My Travel Resolution.
discover hidden myths, taste diverse food and sleep below a sky full of shooting stars and galaxies every night
New Zealand is the furthest possible distance that you can travel from the UK. Auckland is 18,327 km away from London and took us 36 hours to get there (with one stop in Brisbane and one in Dubai). The New Zealand population is around 4.7 million people, for the whole country! This is a tiny amount. For example, the New York population is about 8.6 million people and London is around 8.1 million.

Also, New Zealand is actually bigger than the UK. Therefore, this shows how spread out people are here and how much open space there is. I haven't been everywhere however, so far New Zealand is my favorite place that I have visited. Here I will talk about my favorite places in the North Island and why you should visit them.

places to visit north island new zealand

1. Auckland

Where to visit first in New Zealand?

If you are traveling a long way to get here, then you will probably arrive in Auckland first. Auckland has over 1.6 million residents which puts it roughly at a quarter of the whole population of the country. In addition, the city sits on the coast in the North of the North island, with 2 harbors.

Above all it is by far the biggest and busiest city in New Zealand. Auckland is famous for the Sky Tower, Mt. Eden, the Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland Museum, hundreds of bars, restaurants and shops.

What are the best ways to see Auckland?

A great way to see Auckland is to climb Mt. Eden (or Maungawhau in the native language). It is an extinct volcano that last erupted 15,000 years ago causing it to form a crater at the summit. It stands 196 meters high and from the top you can see over the whole city. The Sky Tower really stands out from here in the city and is a good looking building.

Lots of people climb up here to see the amazing cone like crater and to see Auckland from the highest natural point of the city. Similarly, the Sky Tower is another way to see Auckland from an aerial view. The observation deck is it at 186 m which is about £15 to go up. You can also do a Sky Walk on the top of the Tower which is where they attach you to the building and then you lean off.

This costs about £80 but after my experience of freaking out on the Sydney Harbor Bridge, I thought this probably wasn't for me. Another thing you can do is bungy jump from the tower which is about £120.

2. Wellington

Wellington region located at the southern tip of the North Island is the gateway to the South Island and facing the port on the Cook Strait, which separates the North Island from the South. It is the original city of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Ballet of New Zealand and the National Opera.

One of the most recommended places to visit is the Museum of New Zealand, called in Maori Te Papa Tongarewa or simply Te Papa. Another of the characteristic buildings of Wellington is the hive. Important historical documents are exhibited here, such as the original Treaty of Waitangi - the founding document of the nation. Karori wildlife sanctuary is also an interesting place to see and admire the flora and fauna of New Zealand.

What is the Capital of New Zealand?

The New Zealand capital is Wellington. Home to less than 500,000 people! Wellington is by the coast but also surrounded by mountains, forests and green land. It is so picturesque (not like most cities I've been to). In order to get the full visual experience of Wellington we climbed Mount Victoria.

A 196 m high mountain just at the edge of the city but accessible by foot. From the top you can see over the whole city, from the sea right to the forests. In addition, there was also a rope swing up a tree on the mountain. As 20 and 21 years old, (at the time) me and my cousin spent way too much time playing on the swing. However, it was super cool!

How should I spend my time in the Capital?

Another thing you can do is visit Wellington museum, which is fascinating (and free entry). When we went they had a whole animal kingdom section with even the Colossal Squid being there. Museums are a great way to spend a day learning about a city or country and they are usually free so therefore a great day out for a backpacker.

Furthermore, other things to do in Wellington include visiting the zoo and wildlife reserve. The TV and film museum, riding the Wellington cable car and the cable car museum. All vary in price. However, I would suggest even going to Wellington just relax and enjoy the city for the beautiful place that it is.

places to visit north island new zealand

3. Matamata

Is there a good Lord of the Rings tour in New Zealand?

Hobbiton or Matamata was always very high on my bucket list. On our second day staying in Waitomo we traveled to Matamata or as it is also known, Hobbiton. Being a huge Lord of the Rings fan from an early age I had collected action figures, toys, costumes, the full extended cuts of all 3 movies and also model figurines that I painted myself (#nerd).

So while in New Zealand of course we went on some Lord of the Rings tours, the most impressive and memorable experience was Hobbiton. It costs about £45 to do a guided tour here which lasts around 2 hours.

What is a tour of Hobbiton like?

The tour is very interesting and you learn things about who made the set, characters in the movies and the local area. You visit the house of Frodo/Bilbo Baggins, house of Sam, the courtyard, the Oak tree on the hill of Bag End and the Green Dragon. The Baggin’s house was so awesome, it even had the “No admittance, exception party business” sign on the way up to Bag End.

Sam’s House was my favorite, surrounded by a garden full of flowers, which seemed right for a former gardener. Most of the houses had absolutely nothing inside. They would film around the outside for the Shire and then inside was done at the studios. In addition, the huge Oak tree that towers over Bag End was also very interesting as it is completely fake.

Therefore, it was shipped over in pieces and reassembled here. The whole area of the Shire looks like an active village with washing hung out on lines, tools including ladders in gardens, jars of honey on a table also fruit and veg left outside houses. In conclusion, it is so hard to tell what is real and what is fake as with movie magic it all looks so real!

Check out for more Shire information.

4. Waitomo

What is the most impressive natural thing in New Zealand?

Waitomo and the Glow Worm Caves is a beautiful and peaceful place with plenty of long hikes over the flowing green land. However, most people that go here adventure underground. Waitomo is famous for its extensive labyrinth of limestone cave systems under the lush green farmland. This is where the Glow Worm Grotto is.

There are a few different ways to adventure into the caves to see the glow worms. We did the Black Water Abyss Tour which is about $200. On this tour you get a wetsuit, helmet and a rubber ring.

What is the Black Water Abyss Tour like?

The first step on the tour is to jump into the very cold river, hence the wet suit. The next part is to paddle down the river towards the entrance of the caves, on the rubber ring. Once in the caves some parts you paddle down in the ring and other parts you have to walk and carry the ring. The tour guide told us all about the caves, who discovered them, how long the tours had been running for about the glow worms.

I found that fascinating. So once we had walked through another part of the cave, it was back in the water. After that it's not far in and we could see the glow worms. It was incredible! It’s like being outside under a billion stars in the night star but you are underground! The whole experience was amazing and I would do it again.

5. Rotorua

Rotorua is the place of fascinating Maori culture, hot springs and boiling mud pools. Rotorua is part of an extensive region with high geothermal activity that begins on White Island, located 50 km from the coast, and continues to the volcanic plate south of Lake Taupo. In the city is also the second largest lake in New Zealand (Lake Rotorua), behind Lake Taupo.

The primitive forests that surround this modern city make up a series of landscape wonders, such as the transparent and calm lakes and natural pools, some of them full of trout like in Paradise Valley Springs. Also bubbling pools of mud at high temperatures as in Whakarewarewa, streams that give off a strong scent of sulfur.

The main part of the reserve is the geyser called Pohutu. Next to the Pohutu is the Prince of Wales geyser. Arikapakapa golf course, unique in the world, awaits you with its bubbling mud and water bunkers. In Tyron Street you can visit numerous shops that are dedicated to selling sheep skin and the most varied souvenirs. The stores are grouped around the center called Little Village.

You can also find artists sculpting the famous greenstone or pounamu in traditional Maori forms. And of course, you should not miss visiting the Waimangu Valley thermal area created by the eruption of Mount Tarawera. The most renowned thermal attraction is located in the Wai-O-Tapu Park, with its famous Champagne Pool and its Lady Knox geyser, which erupts every day at 10:15 am.

But in the city there is also a free park! It is the Kuirao park where there are several wells and outdoor pools. If you are looking for relaxation, the Polynesian Spa is what you need! In it you can enjoy different thermal baths and comforting massages and is one of the things to do in North Island.

You can also visit Rainbow Springs Park, to see the famous kiwis and other native fauna. Here you can also enjoy the new attraction: The Big Splash. Another option is to be one of the crew of a scenic flight on White Island, the only active sea volcano in New Zealand.

Are there any tours in New Zealand not to be missed?

Rotorua and the Tamaki Maori Village was voted as one of the top ten experiences in the world! Our time in Rotorua was mainly spent looking at the nature of the beautiful city. After that, on the evening of our day in Rotorua we went to Tamaki Maori Village Encounter. Which I can quite happily say was one of the best nights of my life!

In addition, we didn’t quite know what to expect as our bus driver actually refused to tell us about it. He said that it is a must do and that we wouldn’t be disappointed. However, I can tell you that he was right.

What to expect from the Tamaki Maori Village?

Arriving at the village you get a traditional Maori greeting which involves laying down a leaf as a sign of peace. Once inside it is like going back in time. All the buildings are made like they used to be before the Europeans got there and the Maori locals are wearing traditional clothing.

The large group was split into a few smaller ones. Then each group went to different parts of the village. There is the tattoo artist who tells you about how the tattoos used to be done and why. After that, there is a carpenter who tells you about the woodwork on the buildings. Additionally, you meet the chief who tells you more about the village’s history and why they set this encounter up. After that, then you meet the warriors (or the guys doing the Haka).

After the tour of the village they take you to the hall where there is a feast. Then the chief does a speech and invites you to watch their show. The women do a traditional Maori dance and the men do the Haka. We were sat a meter away from them and they were so loud. It really was incredible. Similarly, to Hobbiton, If this sounds like something you would be interested in the check out

6. Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf has enough attributes to be considered one of the possible terrestrial Eden with kilometers of almost solitary beaches, mountain landscapes, a privileged climate almost all year round, and a dozen wineries. In the middle of the last century it became the home of many people who were looking for a much calmer life in this corner than they could have in towns like Auckland. So there hippies, hermits, healers, ecologists and even fans of marijuana took refuge.

7. Napier

Napier is the Art Deco capital of New Zealand, located in Hawkes Bay, one of the most fertile regions in the east center of the North Island.

In conclusion, New Zealand is an interesting and beautiful place. Everywhere that we stopped there was something impressive to see. In addition, this post is just my favorite places in the North Island. Therefore, I will write another post on the South Island too.

Thanks for reading and speak soon. If you enjoyed reading this then go to to see more from me.
Comment down below your thoughts or questions. Or alternately check out my social media @pubcheftotraveller
  • 16
  • Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Kalyan Kalyan Author


  1. I've been wanting to see New Zealand. Two of my closest friends just moved there and I'd love to visit. I'll take good note of all your tips here. Thanks.

  2. North Island is really beautiful, Especially Rotorua, I loved it.

  3. Everything looks so attractive! LoTR is probably my favorite fantasy universe so if I go to New Zealand it'll be my number one place!

  4. I've never been to New Zealand before, but it looks like such a great place to visit! I'll keep this all in mind, for when I finally get a chance to go there myself.

  5. Have you visited all the places? Or the places are travel tips. Nice one, would love to visit the country.

  6. I've never been to NZ but a friend of mine spent two years there and loved it!!! I can't wait to visit NZ...

  7. Great review of places to visit! More pictures, please. I'd love to see all of those places!

  8. We're living in Australia, so a bit nearer for us - but still yet to visit. We think we'll do two seperate trips to North and South Islands... and I'll definitely keep this bookmarked to help plan!

  9. This was so informative! I’ve never really thought about visiting New Zealand , but the Matamata sounds like it would be super cool to see.

  10. I have never been to New Zealand but this is one of my dream place to visit. I am grateful to read this guidelines and will definitely save this for me to use on my future trip. Thank you!

  11. This is such a detailed guide, New Zealand is such a great place to visit. I will keep this for future reference. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Thank you for highlighting the tours worth checking out. Sometimes I forget they offer this outside of the country. Great way to get some history from the areas you visit from the guides.

  13. So many great places to visit and see in north island in New Zealand. I would love to visit one day x


  14. I dream of coming to New Zealand. I hope it'll come true soon.

  15. I love Lord of the Ring and would love to go to the places they shot the movie in. Those are some awesome places to visit. Hopefully Me and the kids can visit there someday.

  16. I was only aware of Wellington, but the others on your list have only made me more curious. Definitely looking into this further. Thanks for the round up.


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