Hey everyone! We’re so happy to finally share our New Zealand [North Island] excursions. Also, feel free to search our page for “South Island” if you’d like to read more of our NZ adventures.
To start our north island adventure, we drove our rental car onto the Interislander ferry in Picton and made our way to Wellington. This was our first time using a car ferry and would highly recommend it. Avis Rental Cars provided a great vehicle for our trip.
We spent 15 days on the north island and picked some of the highlight cities we really wanted to visit. Not having a set schedule allowed us to be flexible and spontaneous throughout our journey. Some of the highlight cities we visited were: Wellington, Rotorua, Taupo, Auckland, and Piha.
We highlighted our top 10 things to do while exploring New Zealand’s North Island below.
Top 10 Things to Do in New Zealand: North Island
1. Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island is the most populated and most accessible island in New Zealand. We took the ferry from Auckland and walked around without planning out or day. Cable Bay Winery is a must while on the island! We suggest sitting outside in the oversized bean bag chairs. You’ll get an amazing view of Auckland while sipping some of the best wine.
2. Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Visiting the Glow Worm Caves was another memorable adventure on the North Island. Float down underground river and jump off waterfalls while taking in the magic of the glow worm caves! Our tubing trip was booked with Black Water Rafting. You can also check out Discover Waitomo for other ways to explore the caves.
3. Hobbiton Movie Set
Whether you are a fan of Lord of the Rings or not, you’ll appreciate the views and story behind the Hobbiton Movie Set. We booked a tour with Hobbiton Tours and had fun exploring the picturesque farm used for filming The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. At the end of the tour, you get to enjoy a free beer at the Green Dragon. It’s quite a unique experience and a must-do while visiting New Zealand.
4. Piha Beach
We stumbled upon Piha Beach since we had some extra time toward the end of our trip. This beach is a famous surfing beach located on the west coast. It is absolutely stunning and makes you feel like you’re in a post card! We highly recommend spending an afternoon here if you have time.
While in Auckland, we followed the Downtown City Walk recommended by Lonely Planet. There’s no better way to explore than by foot! Sky Tower, Auckland Zoo and One Tree Hill are just a few things to do while visiting the city. Restaurant options are endless, but we recommend The Brit (burger bar), Lord of the Fries (vegan friendly), and The Churchill (cocktails).
Rotorua is a town set in New Zealand and is renowned for its geothermal activity. You’ll see bubbling mud pools in Whakarewarewa Valley. You can take a tour through the village, watch a Maori performance and see the 30m Pohutu Geyser! We dedicated one day to fully enjoy this experience and learn more about the New Zealand culture.
7. Huka Falls
Huka Falls are a set of waterfalls on the Waikato River. These waterfalls are the most-visited natural attraction in New Zealand. This is a must-see while exploring the north island!
8. Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park is the oldest National Park in New Zealand. This park offers hiking, camping, hunting, mountain biking and views of three active volcanic mountains! We spent 4 hours and close to 8 miles hiking this incredible national park.
9. Te Papa Museum
Te Papa is a beautiful art and history museum located in Wellington. The museum’s role is to present and preserve the heritage of its cultures and knowledge of the natural environment. It provides a range of highly engaging visual and interactive displays. This is a great experience if you have extra time in the city.
10. Explore Wellington
Since we visited in December, we just happened to be in the city when the Santa Parade was taking place. We spent the afternoon taking in the sights and sounds while soaking up the holiday spirit. Save a day to explore the capital city.
Have you ever traveled during the holidays? What was your experience?
Kayla + Logan