Now if you have planned a New Zealand trip of a life time and you are looking to visit some of the best places in the North Island… then this is your guide!
Recently we began travelling the world full-time with our two children. And just now we are travelling the North Island, AKA our own back yard, because when the world is closed our homeland New Zealand seems like one of the best places to visit and explore! We are currently putting together an extensive guide of all the places that we love and recommend.
Originally from the North Island we have both travelled the beaches, walks, cities and towns… and so have plenty of local knowledge to share.
Link through from this page to other posts where we share in more detail, points of interest in different regions of New Zealand. Bookmark and share your favourite posts from this New Zealand series to return to later, as you begin to travel Aotearoa and experience it for yourself.
The Geography of New Zealand
I’m sure you’ll know by now that New Zealand is divided into two main islands… the North Island and the South Island and in terms of places to visit, each island is uniquely spectacular. This is mainly contributed to the landscape that varies greatly between both.
The South Island is mountainous, less populated, somewhat more rugged with cooler temperatures. This suits travellers looking for the opportunity to get out into the wilderness, hikers and true landscape lovers. While the North Island is certainly busier, warmer and has some of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever experienced. There are also some super thermal destinations to explore and some beautiful islands to trip out to.
So lets get started below on the best places to visit in the North Island of New Zealand.
Naturally I’ll start from the very top and work our way down through the North Island.
We’ll highlight key places to visit along the way, but be sure to follow our links to posts with more specific information. These will help you get the best out of each area in mention.
The lighthouse at the northern tip of New Zealand provides a spectacular view of where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. This is an awe inspiring location and at sunrise and sunset provides a dramatic backdrop to the remote far north.
For beautiful remote beaches you may want to visit and stay in the nearby Department of Conservation (DoC) campgrounds –
- Tapotupotu Bay – this is a small bay with a river that runs to the ocean
- Spirits Bay – a long sweeping beach with great swimming and views
- Karikari Peninsula – Maitai Bay is a beautiful spot a little further south
Ninety Mile Beach and the Giant Sand Dunes
This coast is wild, looooong and stunning. Ninety Mile Beach serves as a main highway to the far north. Yes that is correct… the beach is a highway. At low tide this beach is a busy gateway to the Cape as cars make their way up and down this piece of coast.
At the northern end of Ninety Mile Beach are giant sand dunes that provide plenty of fun and some great photo opportunities to boot.
Let me tell you a quick story about this unique highway beach. Once upon a time, my German buddy and I boldly decided to walk Ninety Mile Beach. Which by the way is actually only 55 miles long. We walked all day, and I ended up with terrible blisters on the soles of my feet. So we ended up hitch hiking out, to save my feet, and for fear of camping the night on the beach with wild horses. I prefer not to think of it as a fail, but instead, a lesson… never underestimate a good pair of walking shoes and the wild!
Bay of Islands
Some of the most beautiful beaches in the North Island of New Zealand, and on my list of favourite places to visit, are the Bay of Islands on the eastern coast. These sub tropical islands boast white sand and crystal clear waters. And this is also an ideal location for taking a sailing trip, boat charter or a ferry beyond the mainland.
Paihia is the gateway to the Bay of Islands, and a small town tourist hub packed full of tourist operators. Start here for your Bay of Islands journey planning. Urupukapuka Island is the largest of the islands and a popular destination to visit.
Other places to check out in this area are Kerikeri and the Stone Store, an historical landmark of the North Island. The town of Russell, New Zealand’s original capital is a great little spot to explore as is Waitangi for more about our history and culture. All the above mentioned, are great for day trips or overnighters.
Some of our favourite beaches on the mainland in this region include –
- Matauri Bay – a pretty bay and a beach where you can dive the Rainbow Warrior wreck
- Taupo Bay – picture perfect paradise
- Tauranga Bay – a great place to park a campervan at the local campground for the night
This is the busiest city of the far north (and the city in which I was born – there is a useless piece of information for you).
The A. H. Reed Memorial Kauri Park in Whangarei is a great family walk. Meander through the forest and admire the infamous towering Kauri trees which are native to New Zealand. Don’t miss Otuihau a stunning 26 metre high waterfall.
Given that we are not typically city travellers, we would recommend that you head to the east coast for the beautiful beaches. Which by the way, are no more than 30km from Whangarei and there are some beaut spots here to pitch a tent or park a camper. The DoC campground in Otamure Bay or Whananaki comes highly recommended.
Check this stunning Airbnb in Parua Bay towards Whangarei Heads. You can’t go wrong if you book a couple of nights here. And if you are looking to fit in some yoga classes then you’ll be excited to know there is a yoga studio onsite!
While you are in the area, also check –
- Matapouri beach and Whale Bay
- Te Kākano – (opening soon) – Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairau Maori Art Gallery
- Mt Parikhaka – walk through native bush to reach the summit and Maori sculpture
Matakana and Surrounding Beaches
If you like wine tasting and craft beers you might want to begin in the northern region of Auckland. Matakana is a great destination for wineries, craft breweries and good food. As it is relatively close to Auckland, there are often a lot of visitors from the city frequenting the local beaches, restaurants and holiday homes.
Take your pick from the many gorgeous wine estates and taste till your hearts desire. For wine mixed with art and sculpture, we can recommend Brick Bay Wines and Sculpture Trail. Book ahead and reserve lunch outdoors under the vines. The food is amazing and the sculpture trail is a peaceful hour walk around the grounds.
For some of the best beaches plan a visit to –
- Omaha Beach – this is a busy holiday beach town. There is a long sweeping beach, white sand and it is a beautiful spot for a sunset swim.
- Tawharanui Beach – this is a fenced in reserve and you will see many New Zealand native birds roaming around. This is a great beach for a full day of sun, sand and surf. Head to the southern end of the beach for a quieter atmosphere.
- Pakiri Beach – there is a great estuary for kids here which is particularly fun on an outgoing tide. The main beach is rugged and feels more remote.
Leigh and Goat Island
Goat Island just outside of Leigh is a Marine Reserve. Grab your snorkel gear and head to Goat Island for an up close and personal encounter with large schools of snapper. See this link for more about what to expect and information about how to book a guided tour.
We also recommend taking the walk just a little further up the road to the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre. We spent more than an hour exploring the creatures in the touch tank and taking in the interactive displays. The staff were super helpful and took the time to educate us about the local ocean life.
The Rugged West Coast Beaches
Piha and Muriwai are two very popular surf beaches on the west coast just out of Auckland. Notorious for strong currents and rips, swimmers need to take care and swim between the flags. But despite the need for caution these two black sand beaches have a rugged quality that makes them definitely worth a visit.
Auckland – The City of Sails
Now to be transparent I will point out that Auckland is a big city, in which there is plenty to do. So I will share below some of our favourite places to visit in the big smoke. But note, this by no means covers all.
Auckland Domain and Museum
This is by far one of my favourite places in the city. A giant green domain, with quiet corners right in the heart of the city. Find yourself under the shade of a giant tree just below the museum, with a good book or picnic and you’ve found the perfect way to spend the afternoon. If you have time of course visit the museum, and also the free to enter Domain Wintergardens.
The Viaduct Basin
Given that Auckland is named the City of Sails, it makes sense to visit the viaduct and wander around the wharf, shops and restaurants. The viaduct is where it’s happening, stroll from one end of the Viaduct Basin to the Wynyard Quarter.
This is also the perfect spot to stay if you are thinking about spending a couple of nights in Auckland city. I have stayed in the Quinovic Apartments and can recommend them very highly. There are great views over the marina and you are central in the CBD of Auckland. Click here to see more and book your room.
Sky City and Activities
Further up the road is the Sky City. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a gambler or like to play the slot machines from time to time, then pop over to the Casino. Alternatively, take the lift up the Sky Tower for great views 220 metres over Auckland city. You can book your tickets in advance right here.
If you’d like to take your time and enjoy a meal while you visit the Sky Tower than check out Orbit 360 a revolving restaurant. This is great place to book if you have a special occasion in mind.
For a late breakfast or brunch then Mission Bay is the place to do it. Select from the many trendy eateries right across the road from the beach, and a stunning view of Rangitoto Island.
There are many districts with fantastic shopping opportunities in Auckland. Some of the following may suit –
- Queen St – this is the main street of Auckland CBD. The shops are on the more commercial end of the spectrum.
- K Road – at the upper end of Queen St, you’ll find colourful and more alternative shopping options.
- Newmarket – just out of the CBD, this is where I prefer to shop. There are some great clothing stores and trendy shops surrounding Newmarket.
- Victoria Park Markets – for an eclectic shopping experience this place has some great finds.
- Onehunga Outlet Mall – further out of the city this mall is the place to pick up some bargains.
Auckland Islands Worth a Visit
We would absolutely recommend a day trip out to one of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf. These islands can be reached by ferry near the Viaduct Basin. Each provides a completely unique experience so choose which is most relevant to your interests.
For the wine and food lovers. Waiheke has a romantic quality, with the many wineries and beaches it never disappoints. Book your wine tour here.
Check out the underground WWII bunkers on the opposite side of the island for something a little bit different. Book your trip here.
If you like something physical, then visit Rangitoto and walk to the top of this volcanic island. The Department of Conservation describe the walking track as easy. The summit is a two hour return walk through lava fields and Pohutakawa forests. Book a return ferry trip here.
Tiritiri Matangi is on our list for when we next get to Auckland. This island is a wildlife sanctuary and has come highly recommended. A great deal of effort has been put into restoring native forest and protecting and reintroducing birds native to New Zealand. Book your day trip here.
We plan to book one night in the Department of Conservation cabin to get the best out of the island. If you chose to do this, book accomodation ahead as spaces are limited.
The Great Barrier Island
If you are looking for a bigger adventure, then the Great Barrier Island is a great destination for off the beaten track travel. It takes longer to reach there, so book yourself one to two nights accomodation. For beaches, hikes and something completely alternative then this is the place to do it. Visit the Great Barrier Island Tourism website for more information.
This region is a diverse mix of farmland, walking tracks and beaches. But starting below with the Coromandel, this area is one of my favourite spots in New Zealand.
The Coromandel is a peninsula of native bush and idyllic white sandy beaches. We have explored this area extensively.
There is enough to keep you exploring for a couple of weeks but the following highlights are a good place to start.
This is one of the most photographed beaches of the North Island in New Zealand, and should without a doubt be on your list of places to visit. The walk to the beach is beautiful and the cave on the beach is very unique.
A dedicated post of Cathedral Cove to come very soon.
Hot Water Beach
Hot springs literally bubble out of the sand at low tide. Thousands of locals and tourists flock here to dig small pools in the sand. There is an art to creating a pool at the right temperature, too much hot water and you’ll burn your toes!
Our Family Favourite Beaches
When we think of the Coromandel we think of the beaches. Some are more known and are therefore more frequented, while others are off the beaten track and secluded. Some of the better known beaches below –
- Whangamata – a bustling surf town during summer
- Hahei – the gateway to the Cathedral Cove
- Cooks Beach – visit the Purangi estuary with kids
- Otama – further north but still a beautiful place for a day trip
Some of our favourite and quieter beaches –
- Whiritoa – there is a cute little walk at the northern end of this beach over to Waimama Bay
- Onemana and Opoutere
- Sailors Grave
- New Chums
Explore further north for a truly remote vacation to the Coromandel township. This town is full of character and quirky. It is home to small festivals in the summer and there are many alternative types living up these ways. Don’t be surprised if you find us settling here in a few years down the track.
The beaches of the northern Coromandel are stunning. Waikawau is currently one of my favourite beaches and destinations to stay. If you book a DoC camping ground here, expect to be completely off-grid. You’ll need to bring in all your camping gear or if you prefer the comforts then look up Bookabach here and you’ll find a couple of cute little places to stay in Little Bay, Waikawau. There aren’t many, so book ahead.
Some of our favourite beaches and bays of the Northern Coromandel include –
- Kennedy Bay
- Waikawau and Little Bay
- Port Charles and Stony Bay
- Port Jackson and Fletcher Bay
If you are a Lord of the Rings buff… then look no further than Matamata. AKA Hobbiton. Set in the middle of farm land Waikato Matamata is proudly home of the hobbit and hobbit house. The best part is that it is a tourist attraction.
Yes my fellowship friends… you can visit those little houses nestled in the hills and feel like Frodo for a day. Book your guided tour to Hobbiton right here. If you are restricted by time of course, you can take a guided day tour from Auckland. We have friends who have experienced it this way, and they thoroughly recommended it.
If you are sick of the salt water and fancy the fresh water for a while head to Arapuni. The Arapuni river connects to the Waikato river, and it’s a calm and peaceful place for a swim. It’s even better if you are in a camper van as this is a great destination for freedom camping.
This walk we highly recommend. A one and a half hour walk each way, be warned this walk will test your knees. The steep incline of the second half of the walk takes you to the very top of the highest waterfall in the North Island. Our youngest two members of the family managed the walk with the some encouragement. So while it might leave you out of breath it is very manageable.
And the view from the top is stellar. Take a picnic lunch up and enjoy a view over the Waikato plains. If you need to cool off, jump into one of the deeper pools at the top it certainly makes for a pleasant dip.
Putaruru Blue Springs
So the story goes, the Putaruru Blue Springs were completely unknown until it was published in a local newspaper. Once upon a time you could swim in these crystal clear waters, sadly now, it’s look but don’t touch.
If you park at the Leslie Road entrance, there is an easy 10-15 minute walk to the main viewing area of the springs. And honestly, it is stunning. The water is incredibly clear and the blue and green hues reflecting from the water are picture perfect. The track does continue, so if you are up for a bigger walk then continue on. Just bearing in mind the track is not a loop track, so at some point you will need to return the way you came.
A popular surf town, Raglan is on the west coast of the north island. Black sand beaches, cafes and alternative living locals make this spot unique. The surf has a huge appeal for New Zealand’s surfers looking to catch a good break. Raglan should definitely be on your list if you like to catch a wave from time to time and you enjoy the slower pace.
Kawhia Hot Water Beach
Did you know that there is a second hot water beach in New Zealand? This was a surprise to us. However finding the hot water is not as easy as it is in Hot Water Beach Coromandel. If you do find it, then you are in for a treat as you’ll likely be one of only a few bathing in the hot water. This is because far fewer visitors make the effort to get there, or even know of this hidden gem.
Similarly, to Coromandel’s Hot Water Beach, you’ll need to plan your visit. Check the tide times online here, and get there two hours ahead of low tide. But that’s not all you’ll need to consider before you go! We cannot stress enough, the importance of also checking the moon phases highlighted in the tide timetable link above. This is because, during the full moon the low tides are even lower and this is necessary given that the hot water is quite far down.
On our visit, the hot water was bubbling just below the tide line. And so we could feel the water on our toes as the waves splashed around our ankles and knees. No digging hot water holes for us!
So just to recap… two hours before low tide, during a full moon phase is the best time to visit. Bring a spade and directly in front of the large dune path down to the beach you’ll find the hot water. There is a large wooden post buried deep in the sand and this serves as a marker. Begin your digging just above the water’s edge in line with the marker and fingers crossed you’ll find your hot water spring.
Lake Taupo is a hive of activity in the central North Island. This is likely due to the large lake which provides plenty to see and do. There is even some thermal action around if you go looking for it. Our list of top things to see and do in Taupo would be as follows.
- Take a tandem skydive over the lake.
- Visit the Huka Falls – Only a few minutes outside of Taupo and a great place to visit when coming in or out of Taupo. The falls are magnificent to see and only a couple minutes walk from the car park. If you feel like experiencing the falls at a faster pace then consider the Huka Falls Jet boat as an alternative option.
- Take a kayaking trip or yacht over the lake to see some impressive Maori carvings etched into the face of a rock wall at Mine Bay.
- Orakei Korako Geothermal Park – This is further out of Taupo on the road to Rotorua. It is definitely worth the visit and one of our favourite geothermal locations to visit.
- Craters of the Moon is a geothermal area near Huka Falls. The entrance fee is minimal and the walk around the park will take no more than 45 minutes.
- Hot pools are a popular place to visit – check the Wairakei Terraces and DeBretts Hot Springs for a paid hot pool experience. Or if you are looking for something free then get to the Otumuheke Stream early in the morning to bath in a natural hot spring.
Bay of Plenty
The Bay of Plenty is where my husband was born and bred, from Mt Maunganui (AKA the Mount) to be exact. So we will be putting more focused content out on this area over the following weeks, as it is a region that we both know very very well.
We will be sharing all the hidden spots of the Mount, known only to the locals.
If you are heading from Auckland to Rotorua, then you’ll know doubt be passing through or around Tauranga. And while it isn’t super touristy it is a very popular summer destination. Over the summer school holidays the Mount and Papamoa become super busy with holiday makers.
There is a fun summer vibe about the place and the beaches are great place to hang out and people watch.
Things to Do in and Around Tauranga
- McLaren’s Falls – on the road towards Hamilton, this is a large reserve and a great place to head for a picnic.
- Katikati Bird Gardens – only 20 minutes out of town. Kids love it here, stroll the grounds and admire the bird life and gardens.
- Walk around or to the top of Mt Maunganui – this is always at the top of our to do list, each time we go home. It never gets old.
- Visit the local and very cool Little Big Markets. And if you love the food truck concept then also keep an eye out for Dinner in the Domain.
- Explore the many hot pools in the Tauranga area – Mount Hot Pools, Oropi Hot Pools and Fernland Spa to name just a few.
- Raparapahoe Falls in Te Puke – we had never heard of these falls until recently. It’s a steep walk in and out, but well worth the effort as it is a great summer swimming hole. Full disclosure… the water is really cold!!!
Without a doubt this is the most popular and most visited tourist destination of the North Island in New Zealand. This is because Rotorua is the geothermal hub of New Zealand. It is here that you can see steaming rivers and streams, bubbling mud pools, geysers and more.
Given that Rotorua is a hive of activity with an endless list of sights and attractions, it can be difficult to choose what to see and do! Below are some of our favourites that we recommend just to get you on your way.
Tip – If you prefer to take the hassle out of your planning, then book a guided tour of Rotorua with Get Your Guide right here. Browse through the available tours and attractions to find the best option for you.
This hits the mark if you don’t have a big budget, but you’ve heard all about the geothermal side of Rotorua and you want to see it in action. It’s free, it’s in a large park and in the heart of town. Head to the Lake Rd side of the Park to see the action. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you begin to see the steam rising through the trees. there are no geysers, but a couple of bubbling mud and steaming rivers to admire.
This is a quiet, pretty walk through a redwood forest that will bring you to a clear fresh water spring. The crystal blue looking water bubbles out of the ground at a surprisingly rapid rate. This water source has created a deep hole and flows away down river to join other smaller water springs in the area, that have made their way to the surface over time. The entrance fee is $18 for adults, $8 for children aged 10-15 years, and there is no fee for children aged 0-9 years.
Redwood Tree Walk
The Redwood Tree Walk is one of the newer attractions in Rotorua and is proving to be very popular. A walkway hangs high in the redwood canopies and is a stunning way to experience the forest. To get a better idea, see their youtube link here. Prices start from $35 per adult and $20 for children aged between 5-15 years. But they have family deals and promotions that are worth checking out on their website here.
Tip – We recommend the night time experience!
Not your average skyline! This attraction has been around for years, and could be considered a national icon. I remember taking the gondola up to the Skyline as a child and enjoying the views over Rotorua and family fun on the luge.
Several years on, and many changes later the Skyline is now home to attractions such as a zip line, mountain biking the sky swing and others. Secure and book your Gondola ride up to Skyline Rotorua right here.
Popular with families, and great for kids, you’ll find all the best of New Zealand wildlife here at Rainbow Springs Nature Park. You’ll spot rainbow trout, kea and kaka as you walk around the park. There is also a kiwi hatchery as part of the kiwi conservation programme operating from here.
This is an entertaining show that represents New Zealand farm life. Get up close and personal with farming life at its best. Take a farm tour, visit the petting area and enjoy the show, complete with a sheep shearing demonstration. It’s a great laugh and very interesting!
Tip – Book tickets in combination with Rainbow Springs and you’ll save on your tickets.
This is another great place to visit for those looking to save their pennies. Kerosene Creek is a natural hot spring and is the perfect temperature and location to sit back relax and take in the native bush around.
On the road between Rotorua and Taupo, you will easily find the location when searching on google maps. Be aware, that there are reports of cars begin broken into at the car park, but we had no trouble during our visit. Keeping this in mind, be sure that your car is locked and that you have no valuables in the car when you visit.
Buried Village of Te Wairoa
This is the site of the devastating volcanic eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886. What was once the infamous pink and white terraces is now a museum, archaeological site and waterfall nature walk. The entrance fee is $25 per adult and $10 for teenagers from 13-17 years.
This location is a fascinating piece of New Zealand history, woven with ghost stories and tragedy of a lost village, villagers and prized silica terraces. To understand more about the pink and white terraces read here.
This region is a very remote destination of New Zealand and not big on the tourist trail in the North Island… if you are wanting to get off the beaten track on your visit then the East Cape offers plenty of places to do so.
Most travellers that choose to explore the East Cape, do so via the coast road. This will take anywhere from a few days to longer and will depend on the time you have available. Expect to see fewer people, but more rural Maori culture and community, remote coast lines and beautiful beaches.
We recommend that you download this guide from Explore the East Cape if you are contemplating this trip. Their website provides detailed information about the attractions, as well as options for places to stay and eat.
Places of Interest in the East Cape
- Opotiki – the gateway to the East Cape from the North. This a good place to get your supermarket and fuel supplies.
- The Motu river – hunting and fishing, jet boating and cycling trails are available here.
- The East Cape Lighthouse – most eastern point of New Zealand and a great place to catch a sunrise.
- Tikitiki – St Mary’s Church – beautifully decorated inside with Maori panels and carvings.
- Tolaga Bay – a wharf of epic proportions at 660 metres long. The beaches in this and surrounding areas of the East Cape are picturesque.
- Gisborne – a small city and the southern gateway to the East Cape. Surrounding beaches and camping spots are stunning during the summer months. This website provides an extended overview of places to visit.
Taranaki, Wanganui, Manawatu and Hawkes Bay
This is an area of New Zealand that we have explored less, with exception of Mt Ruapehu. But I have done the homework and post some great links that will get you started. These southern regions of the North Island, New Zealand are rural and tend to be the kind of places less frequented by travellers, but this should not discourage anyone from a visit. There are always hidden treasures to discover!
Mt Ruapehu and Mt Tongariro
In the olden days (when we were in our 20s) we used to play here on the ski slopes every winter. Mt Ruapehu has two snow parks – Turoa and Whakapapa. If you ask my favourite it would be Turoa. Ohakune is the town at the base of Turoa and is loads of fun in the winter also.
There is is also a growing summer vibe in Ohakune that is seeing an influx in visitors arriving to explore trails and mountain biking. If you like hiking then you might consider the Tongariro Crossing. This full day hike is a great way to see this impressive volcanic National Park. Find a warm, clear summer day, book in your shuttle, (find one option of transport provider here) and bring a camera!
If you rather take the hassle out of organising this hike yourself then book through Get Your Guide here.
Waiouru & the Desert Road
The Desert Road is a stunning drive, especially on a clear day, the snow capped mountains on your right and desert tundra is a pretty scene. Waiouru at the southern end of the Desert Road is a small hub with army museum. These two areas are used by the New Zealand Army as a training base. And occasionally you might see them in action out on the Desert Road or getting around in Waiouru.
The Art Deco capital of New Zealand. If you love wine, art and stone fruit then you’ll love this region.
Book this popular afternoon wine and craft beer tour or hire a bike and explore wineries yourself, because wine is definitely the theme here in Napier. There are also some great walks, and I personally love the walk along the beach to see the gannets nesting high on the cliffs. Find a water park, chocolaterie, dine in great restaurants… there is plenty of sightseeing, drinking and eating to do!
The Napier information centre has a great list of activities to explore if you find yourself here.
This city of the west coast boasts a stunning backdrop of the grand cone shaped Mt Taranaki. New Plymouth is out of the way and not often on the main tourist route, but if you have time then it is a very pretty part of the North Island to visit.
New Zealand locals often plan a trip to see the Festival of Lights, which runs at certain times of the year. And like most of New Zealand there are some amazing walks to take such as the Whitecliff Walkways or the Lake Mangamahoe trail. Read this guide on 8 wonderful walks to do in New Plymouth.
Whanganui is another west coast city and is centred around the Whanganui river and is also very near the beach. Some of the attractions to consider:
- Whanganui river by kayak or paddle steamer
- Art galleries
- Botanic gardens
- Local markets
- Historic churches
- Walks and cycling trail
But the experts with more information about what to see and do is the official tourist site for Whanganui. Follow their link here to read more.
And to finish is Wellington! The lucky last on this post of the best places to visit in the North Island of New Zealand. Our capital city Wellington or Windy Wellington as it is also often described is a creative hub, with alternative undertones.
There is plenty to see and do in this southern most city of the North Island. And naturally, this is where you’ll be able to board a ferry and get yourself to the South Island! So add a couple of days on your itinerary, or a couple of hours if you can and check out a few of the fun things Wellington has to offer. Or even better take a day tour with Get Your Guide!
Te Papa Museum
Te Papa is an amazing museum and the best part… it’s absolutely free (with exception to the occasional exhibition). Stay for a few hours and learn about New Zealand’s history and heritage. Trust me when I say… you’ll love it!
Stroll the Waterfront
After you’ve explored all there is to explore at Te Papa venture out onto the waterfront for a stroll. Take your time, enjoy street art and sculptures, and find a place to take a coffee or a beer. Look out for Frank Kitts Park to the north of the waterfront walk or Freyberg Beach to the southern side – both great places for the kids to stretch their legs.
If you are all about New Zealand bird and wildlife then you’ll love this very special piece of paradise. A not for profit eco-sanctuary has been established in Wellington to support conservation efforts of all things native to New Zealand. A pest proof fence protects 225 hectares of land, home to some 40 species of natives and is a very impressive spot to add to your itinerary.
Check out their website before you visit, which has all the need to know details, such as how to access their free shuttle, as well as information about guided tours.
Shop in Cuba Street
IF you fancy some window shopping or a funky place to grab a bite then Cuba Street is a good place to start. I won’t spoil your fun by recommending where to shop or eat, as choosing your spot is half the FUN!
Lord of the Ring lovers and fans, this one is 100 percent FOR YOU! For as little as $28 you’ll be able to take a guided tour around the WETA Workshop. But for a few more dollars more you can choose from further experiences… go get yourself a feel for what it takes to be a special effects artist.
Browse their website for a complete list of experiences to tempt.
The Pinnacles are a sight not to miss in our opinion and are best explored as a day trip from Wellington. Put your walking shoes on, pack a picnic lunch and hit the road for some funky rock formation fun! Also… you’ll be checking out another filming location from Lord of the Rings… yup… that got your attention now didn’t it.
Craft Brewery Tour
Who doesn’t love a craft beer! Well Wellies is the place to get your craft beer game face on. For the latest check this site on all the best beer joints in town.
And there you have it my friends! We have poured our soul into this post, out of pure love for our homeland. We hope that our recommendations help you discover the very best places to visit in the North Island of New Zealand.
If you are visiting the South Island be sure to read this post on – Day Trips in and Around Nelson – that Won’t Break the Bank!
And if you are in the planning stages of an ultimate holiday around the North Island of New Zealand then don’t forget to pin this guide for later.