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Things to do in North Island

Things to do in  North Island

Welcome to North Island

Home to crystal-clear lakes, volcanic islands, bubbling mud pools, empty beaches, dense forests, and vibrant cities, New Zealand’s beautiful North Island offers something for everyone. Shop 'til you drop in the chic boutiques of Auckland or Wellington, sample award-winning wines among the vineyards of Martinborough, or experience the rugged coastal beauty of the spectacular Coromandel Peninsula—one of New Zealand’s most isolated regions. Using Auckland as a base, you can take in top attractions such as the otherworldly Waitomo Caves, where bright green glowworms hang in cavernous subterranean tunnels. For an altogether different outdoor experience, Rotorua’s steaming geothermal landscapes and the Bay of Islands’ peaceful coves are all within easy reach. The fertile valleys of Waiheke Island offer relaxing food, wine, and art tours; and you can delve into New Zealand’s open wilderness among the mighty Waitakere Ranges. For fans of Frodo, Bilbo, and their respective adventures, “The Lord of the Rings”–themed tours help you fulfill any Tolkien fantasies by visiting the rolling hillsides of Matamata, used as a Middle-earth filming location in the trilogy.

Top 15 attractions in North Island

Auckland Harbour Bridge

The Auckland Harbour Bridge is a landmark site on the city’s skyline. The 8-lane engineering marvel connects downtown Auckland with North Shore suburbs. Visitors can experience the bridge and the stunning views of the Waitemata Harbour from several vantage points: while driving over it, climbing it, or jumping off it.More

Auckland Domain

Enjoy the peace and tranquility of forests, gullies, and green spaces in Auckland Domain, a 185-acre (75-hectare) escape from the frantic Queen Street crowds. Get lost on a nature walk, admire the tropical plants at the Wintergarden, and marvel at the history on display at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.More

Te Puia

Te Puia, located in the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley at the edge of Rotorua features Pohutu Geyser and is home to the impressive New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Visitors can tour the bubbling mud pools with a local Maori guide and choose from among myriad activities.More

Wellington Cable Car

Operating since 1902, the Wellington Cable Car is one of the city’s most famous sights. The ride, from the central business district to the city’s tranquil botanic garden, offers a stunning light show inside the tunnels as well as gorgeous vistas of Mount Victoria and Wellington Harbour as you reach the top.More

Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

Measuring more than 33 feet (10 meters) high, these mammoth Maori sculptures were chiseled into the rocks on the edge of Lake Taupo in the late 1970s. Created by master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell, the carvings depict Ngatoroirangi, who is said to have guided the Te Arawa tribes from their Polynesian homeland to New Zealand.More

Piha Beach

A short drive west of Auckland is Piha Beach, one of the West Coast’s most popular getaways. A small coastal village sandwiched between the Waitakere Ranges and the Tasman Sea, Piha Beach is much loved by surfers and fisherfolk alike, but it’s also a great place for everyone to explore nature, both on the coast and in the hills.More

Auckland War Memorial Museum

The Auckland War Memorial Museum, one of New Zealand’s finest, displays thousands of items—including Maori and Pacific Island collections—reflecting the country’s history, culture, and nature. A dedicated children’s area allows kids to touch animals, fossils, and bugs. Visiting Auckland Museum is a must when spending time in New Zealand’s largest city.More

Auckland Sky Tower

A dizzying 1,076 feet (328 meters) high, the Auckland Sky Tower is not only New Zealand’s highest building but also the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere. The tower offers unbeatable views of Auckland’s skyline, with its distinctive spire visible from all corners of the city.More

Lake Rotorua

The Rotorua area boasts dozens of lakes, but Lake Rotorua is larger, deeper, and older than its neighbors. Geologists believe that Rotorua, the second-largest lake on the North Island, dates back more than 200,000 years, while most of the region’s other waterways were created by the Tarawera eruption of 1886.More


Parnell, Auckland’s oldest suburb, is full of high-quality restaurants, cafes, galleries, and boutique shops, especially jewelers. There are also many noncommercial sites to explore, such as parks, churches, and other buildings. A visit to Parnell is essential for understanding Auckland’s unique, stylish character.More

Hauraki Gulf Islands

Located off the coast of Auckland, Hauraki Gulf’s 16 beautiful islands are ideal for outdoor activities like walking, horse riding, swimming, and dolphin- and whale-watching. From the vineyards of Waiheke to the hiking trails of Rangitoto, the birdwatching of Tiritiri Matangi to the secluded hot springs of Great Barrier, each of the islands offers something special.More

Mission Estate Winery

New Zealand produces some of the world’s most renowned, award-winning wines, and Mission Estate Winery on the outskirts of Napier is where it all began. Founded in 1851, Mission Estate was started by missionaries who journeyed from France with little more than a dream and a couple of vines. Now, nearly two centuries later, Mission Estate continues to operate as one of New Zealand’s best wineries, and is a staple on any shore excursion or wine tasting tour of Napier.Head down the tree lined driveway toward the old fashioned estate and its fountain, and you'll immediately fall for the history and regal charm of the area. Step outside on the hilltop veranda for a view of the vineyard landscapes leading back to Napier’s downtown or to sip in the sun protected by the shade of one of the winery's big, white outdoor umbrellas.More

Viaduct Harbour

Whether you’re embarking on a short day cruise from the marina or enjoying the vibrant nightlife, Viaduct Harbour is an energetic entertainment hub right on the Auckland waterfront. The harbor is best known for its food: there are more than 20 cafés, restaurants, and bars, almost all of them easily found on the harbor’s pedestrian mall.More

Hobbiton Movie Set

Fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films won’t want to miss a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set—the real-life recreation of The Shire, one of the primary settings in those films. Set amid the lush hills of Matamata on New Zealand’s North Island, the purpose-built set features the original hobbit holes, sets, and props from the movies.More

Queen Street

All roads in Auckland lead to Queen Street, the bustling heart of the city. Running from the Downtown Ferry Terminal all the way up to artsy Karangahape Road, Auckland city’s shopping and cultural center is stacked with restaurants, bars, hotels, theaters, and stores catering to all kinds of tastes and budgets.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 2 Days in Wellington

How to Spend 2 Days in Wellington

Top Hot Springs in Rotorua

Top Hot Springs in Rotorua

Top activities in North Island

Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Glowworm Caves Guided Day Trip from Auckland
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Mitai Maori Village Cultural Experience in Rotorua
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Hobbiton, Rotorua and Waitomo Caves Day Trip in Luxury Minibus from Auckland
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Hobbiton™ Movie Set 2-Hour Walking Tour from Shires Rest
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Afternoon Black Sand Beach and Rainforest Tour from Auckland
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Cultural Experience & Seasonal Māori Cuisine at Te Pā Tū
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Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Small Group Tour from Auckland
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Rotorua Highlights Small Group Tour Including Te Puia from Auckland
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Rotorua Day Trip from Auckland with Options -
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All about North Island

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People Also Ask

What is North Island, New Zealand, known for?

New Zealand’s North Island is known for the geothermal geysers and mud pools in Rotorua, its Maori culture, Bay of Islands beaches, multicultural Auckland, and Wellington, its small capital. It’s also New Zealand’s population center, as more than 75 percent of the population lives here.

Where can I holiday on the North Island?

You can holiday almost anywhere on the North Island, as there are many beaches, mountain areas, towns, cities, and a few national parks. Popular North Island travel destinations include the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Waiheke Island, Rotorua, Taupo, Coromandel Peninsula, Tongariro National Park, Napier-Hastings, and Wellington.

How long does it take to drive across the North Island of New Zealand?

Driving the length of the North Island, from Cape Reinga to Wellington, would take around 14 hours. However, most visitors don’t make this trip in one go. Places along the way that are worth stopping at include Auckland, Taupo, Tongariro National Park, and Kapiti coast.

Is North Island better than the South Island in NZ?

No, the North Island is not better than the South Island. Both islands contain a wealth of attractions that travelers enjoy. Some people prefer the culture, beaches, and geothermal attractions of the North Island, while others prefer the mountains and wilderness areas of the sparsely populated South Island.

What’s at the top of the North Island?

Cape Reinga is at the top of the North Island. There’s a lighthouse and walkways down to beautiful, rugged beaches. It’s culturally significant to the local Maori. Although it’s not quite at the northernmost point of the North Island, Ninety Mile Beach is another popular attraction in far northern Northland.

Is the North Island worth visiting?

Yes, the North Island is worth visiting. There are many things to see and do here, no matter your tastes or preferences. Enjoy the beaches of the Bay of Islands and Coromandel Peninsula, hike through the Tongariro National Park, marvel at Rotorua’s geothermal activity, and more.


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