9 Best Places to Visit in North Island, New Zealand

If you have seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies you may already be familiar with the beauty of New Zealand. Most of the amazing landscapes used in the wanderlust movies were filmed on location on the North and South Islands. The North Island is smaller and known for its geothermal features and sandy beaches.

But then, the beauty of kiwi beaches is out of this world, and they’re mostly pristine and empty - except few urban areas there’s no soul around. There’s a weird euphoria luring a lot of people, even experienced swimmers.

Due to pristine landscape, Wild Camping or Freedom Camping in New Zealand as it is locally known as is one of the most popular activities among adventure travelers. It is basically pulling off by the side of the road and camping out the night amongst the scenic wilderness of the region. This could be in a car, a tent, or a Campervan.

places to visit in north island, New Zealand

1. Auckland

Beaches, forests/bush and mountains are close by - there are amazing restaurants and cafes in Auckland and ever so often have international and local music, sports and festivals that will blow your mind. If you are travelling around NZ and have limited time available then miss out Auckland as a day up North or around the Coromandel or in Hawkes Bay or in the South Island will be more rewarding. If you can stay longer then stay longer - NZ shouldn’t be rushed.

One of the most unique places to eat in Auckland is a small ice cream shop in the Britomart district called Giapo. There is nearly always a queue out the door. Visiting and eating here is an entire experience. From the personal greeting and the individual samples to the artistic displays of unique combinations, it's a not to be missed treat.

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 Important historical documents are exhibited here, such as the original Treaty of Waitangi - the founding document of the nation.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.

3. 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.

4. Piha

Huge, spectacular waves. Two permanent strong rips at either end of the beach so always stay in the center of the beach. Take care to stay on the inner bar. And, of course, the rips.

5. Muriwai

One of the most beautiful beaches with very strong rips, and huge waves. Swim on the inner portion of the inner bar in front of the patrol tower only.

6. Raglan

Ngarunui beach in Waikato has very uneven sea bed, deep holes that can form at any moment in the sea bed. Huge surfing waves are at Manu Bay close by.

7. Tauranga

Bay of Plenty is a shore dump at the northern end, and the strong rip runs out along the southern headland along Mt Maunganui. On higher tides, the water becomes very deep, very quickly, meaning swimmers could be out of their depth right next to the shore.

8. 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. Marine Parade Beach has a sudden drop in depth so waves here can be large and unpredictable. Rogue breaks have snatched people from the shore and sucked them out to sea. There are warning signs all over. Better stay clear and well away from water edge here.

9. Bay of Islands

New Zealand's Bay of Islands is the birthplace of the country as we know it today. It's home to stunning scenery, amazing adventure opportunities, and great food alongside the many historical and cultural things to do. The fast boat to the hole in the rock is one of the thrilling and incredibly beautiful things to do in New Zealand.
Kalyan Panja