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The Best Things to Do in the North Island of New Zealand

These are the best things to do in the North Island of New Zealand:

  • Visit a geothermal reserve
  • See glowworms in the Waitomo Caves
  • Unwind at an idyllic beach
  • Tour the Hobbiton Movie Set
  • Explore volcanoes
  • Enjoy a Maori cultural show
  • Try something unusual

The North Island is an idyllic landscape of rolling farmland, picturesque beaches, and geothermal activity. In addition, the North Island is perfect for a short vacation, since it packs great variety into a small space.

So you can begin planning your holiday, we have compiled a list of the best things to do in the North Island.

The Best Things to Do in the North Island of New Zealand

1. Visit a geothermal reserve

rotorua hot springs
Te Puia Rotorua

The area around Rotorua is packed with geothermal attractions, from jewel-colored mineral springs to geysers and naturally heated waterfalls. No visit to the North Island is completely without seeing at least one.

Top options include Hells Gate, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Te Puia, and Orakei Korako.

2. Marvel at the glowworms in the Waitomo Caves

waitomo glowworm caves - things to do in the North Island
Waitomo Glowworm Caves

New Zealand’s unique glowworms cling to the ceiling of caves, creating a galaxy-like effect in darkness. This stunning phenomenon can be witnessed at any of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Choose from a range of tours–for example, family-friendly boat tours, walking tours, and adventure tours with “blackwater rafting” (cave tubing) or abseiling.

3. Unwind at an idyllic beach

Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand
Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel Peninsula

The North Island has an abundance of beautiful coastline. Some of its most charming beaches are found in the Coromandel Peninsula and the Bay of Islands. The most popular beaches are invariably crowded. However, it’s easy to find a secluded stretch of oceanfront paradise.

Firstly, in the Coromandel Peninsula, Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach are well worth a visit. Secondly, in the Bay of Islands, Paihia is the most convenient base for exploring the region.

4. Tour the Hobbiton Movie Set

hobbiton movie set
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

The Hobbiton Movie Set is charming enough to captivate even those who are not fans of The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. Each miniature house is lovingly built and maintained to a level of impressive realism, with vegetables and flowers growing in every garden.

Moreover, you can enhance your Hobbiton visit with an overnight stay in a hobbit hole.

5. Explore volcanoes of all varieties

Tongariro Alpine Crossing day hike - things to do in the North Island
Tongariro Alpine Crossing day hike

The North Island is littered with volcanoes. However, some of these are more obvious than others. For instance, Auckland boasts 53 volcanoes, most of which have eroded to grassy hills. In addition, Lake Taupo sits in the remains of an old volcanic crater.

The most dramatic volcanoes are found in Tongariro National Park, where Mt Tongariro and Mt Ruapehu dominate the skyline.

Explore the volcanoes with a hike, a helicopter tour, or a floatplane flight.

6. Enjoy a Maori cultural show

Te Puia Poi Display
A cultural show at Te Puia Rotorua

New Zealand’s Maori heritage is alive and well on the North Island. Taking part in a heritage show is a valuable opportunity to experience this rich culture. Likewise, your business helps support education and the passing down of tradition.

Rotorua was and still is one of the most vibrant Maori communities on the North Island. As a result, many geothermal reserves were once historic Maori settlements. At Te Puia and Whakarewarewa, you can explore geothermal features while also learning about Maori songs, dances, and traditional crafts.

7. Try one of the unusual things to do in the North Island

RiverJet The Squeeze - things to do in the North Island
The Squeeze: a walk through a warm-water slot canyon

The North Island is home to many unique activities that you won’t find many other places in the world. For example, you can:

  • Dig your own hot pool in the sands at Hot Water Beach
  • Walk through a lantern-lit redwood canopy on the Redwoods Treewalk
  • Kayak into a blowhole on the volcanic Coromandel coastline
  • Walk up a slot canyon to a warm waterfall heated by a geothermal spring
  • Tube beneath glowworms at the Waitomo Caves
  • Hike through a volcanic crater on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Play golf atop the dizzying cliffs at Cape Kidnappers
  • Climb the Auckland Harbour Bridge with the help of a harness and ropes

Check off these top things to do in the North Island with a customized holiday package

As you begin planning your North Island holiday, browse our itineraries to get an idea for your favorite routes. After that, our team will work with you to customize your holiday package to match exactly what you want.

We offer a wide range of holiday packages, from self-drive packages to privately guided tours. Some of these are available through our specialized brands:

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