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The Top 5 Reasons to Visit the North Island of NZ

These are the top 5 reasons to visit the North Island of NZ:

  • Most of the highlights are close together
  • Auckland and Wellington are the best places to experience New Zealand’s urban scene
  • You’ll find activities for all ages
  • The North Island is a paradise for foodies
  • Most of New Zealand’s best beaches are on the North Island

Though New Zealand’s South Island draws the vast majority of visitors, the North Island is spectacular and varied in its own right.

The Top 5 Reasons to Visit the North Island

1. Most of the highlights are close together

tongariro crossing
Tongariro Crossing

On the South Island, it often takes hours of driving on narrow, winding mountain roads to reach each destination. However, the highlights of the North Island are located within easy reach of one another.

What is close to Auckland?

Within a three-hour drive of Auckland, you can see:

  • Waitomo Glowworm Caves
  • The volcanoes of Tongariro National Park
  • Geothermal reserves around Rotorua and Taupo
  • Hobbiton Movie Set
  • Beaches in the Coromandel Peninsula and the Bay of Islands
  • Picturesque lakes such as Lake Taupo and Lake Rotorua

2. Auckland and Wellington are the best places to experience New Zealand’s urban scene

wellington city life - reasons to visit the North Island of New Zealand
Wellington Harbour

If you want to explore museums, sample New Zealand’s freshest cuisine at award-winning restaurants, and enjoy the bustle of city life, Auckland and Wellington are fun and rewarding destinations.

What can you do in Auckland New Zealand?

  • Ride to the top of the Sky Tower for panoramic views of the twin harbors that cradle the city
  • Take a ferry to Waiheke Island to sample wine and olives grown locally
  • Visit the Mt Eden lookout
  • Visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Explore the Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium
  • Escape the bustle with a visit to one of the charming beaches nearby

Auckland is a much larger city than Wellington, vibrant and multicultural, with a fast-moving business hub downtown.

What are the top attractions to visit in Wellington?

  • Te Papa Museum
  • Weta Workshop
  • Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary
  • The Wellington Cable Car
  • Mount Victoria Lookout

Though Wellington is New Zealand’s capital, its population is much smaller than Auckland, so the city center quickly gives way to gardens and forests on the nearby hillsides. The walkable downtown is packed with top sights plus craft breweries and character-filled cafes.

In addition, Wellington is where most travelers catch the Interislander Ferry to reach the South Island.

3. You’ll find activities for all ages

maori village rotorua - reasons to visit the north island with kids
Te Puia Rotorua

While places like Queenstown are geared towards an older, more adrenaline-hungry crowd, the North Island has activities to delight visitors of all ages.

Reasons to visit the North Island with children

  • The Redwoods Treewalk in Rotorua is an enchanting way for families to discover the forest canopy, especially at night, when the trees are lit with lanterns
  • Ruakuri Cave is stroller-accessible, allowing families with young children to see New Zealand’s famous glowworms
  • Children love the miniature houses at the Hobbiton Movie Set
  • Families will delight in digging their own hot pools at Hot Water Beach
  • The brilliantly-colored geothermal pools, geysers, and mud baths around Rotorua are fun for both children and adults

Moreover, if you enjoy more adventurous travel, the North Island has no shortage of outdoor sports and adrenaline activities. For example, you can sample kayaking, bungy jumping, hiking, skydiving, rafting, ziplining, and adventure caving.

4. The North Island is a paradise for foodies

winery auckland
A winery on the outskirts of Auckland

Much of New Zealand’s fresh produce is grown on the North Island, where the climate is mild year-round.

Firstly, near Tauranga and the Coromandel Peninsula, you’ll find kiwifruit, avocados, and macadamia nuts.

Secondly, on Waiheke Island, you’ll encounter olives, fresh-pressed olive oil, and oysters.

And finally, in wine regions as diverse as Hawke’s Bay, Auckland, Wairarapa, and Waiheke Island, you can sample some of New Zealand’s finest wines.

5. Most of New Zealand’s best beaches lie on the North Island

Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand
Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel Peninsula

Dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach. Surf at the black-sand beaches of Raglan. Walk beneath the iconic stone archway at Cathedral Cove. Sandboard down towering dunes at 90 Mile Beach. Kayak around the volcanic coastline on the Coromandel Peninsula. Discover secluded beaches in the Bay of Islands.

Reasons to visit the North Island beaches

The North Island has warmer waters than the South Island, so its beaches are both lovely to look at and great for swimming. Consequently, if you dream of a relaxing beach getaway, the North Island is the place to go.

In addition, the North Island beaches are easily accessible from other destinations, so you can combine relaxation with sightseeing.

Places to Visit in the North Island

  • Auckland – city life and wineries
  • Rotorua – geothermal reserves and Maori culture
  • Wellington – Weta Workshop and New Zealand’s most excting urban scene
  • The Bay of Islands – beaches and dolphins
  • Taupo – water sports and geothermal reserves
  • The Coromandel Peninsula – beaches and forest walks
  • Tongariro National Park – volcanoes and hiking
  • Tauranga – beaches and orchards
  • Napier – Art Deco and wineries

You now know the reasons to visit the North Island of NZ, so you can start planning your holiday today.


Read About the Best Things to Do in the North Island of NZ Next >


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