Top Ten North Island Destinations

New Zealand’s North Island is sometimes overlooked because it doesn’t quite have the spectacular scenery and mountainous landscapes which are more prevalent in the South. Despite this, there are plenty of activities and incredible cultural experiences to be enjoyed, as well as a smattering of majestic natural wonders. Possible trips include visits to the cosmopolitan cities of Wellington and Auckland, dipping your toes into one of the many geothermal pools, and the chance to immerse yourself in Maori culture. Here are my top ten North Island destinations...

1. Take in an authentic Maori Experience 

Top Ten North Island Destinations

A visit to Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua will immerse you in a culture which goes back thousands of years. Grab the chance to experience a series of Maori traditions, including an ancient welcoming ceremony and weaponry displays (not as life threatening as it sounds) - not to mention a fantastic three course feast at the end of your tour. This really is a unique commemoration to Maori heritage, and has become New Zealand’s most award winning Maori culture attraction.

2. Check out the rugby at Eden Park 

If you’re lucky enough to be on the North Island during the rugby season, then a visit to Eden Park is a must. Not only is it New Zealand’s largest stadium, but it is also the home of the All Blacks, and the focal point of the country’s national sport. New Zealand are the dominant force in International rugby at the moment, and this stadium is their fortress as well as being the home ground for local team Auckland.

3. Appreciate Wellington, the world’s most southerly capital city

Top Ten North Island Destinations

Wellington is certainly a quirky little city with a massive reputation. With a population of just over 200,000 people, it certainly punches above its weight in terms of memorable destinations. Culturally, visitors can choose between a variety of galleries, theatres and museums, whilst there are a staggering number of fantastic bars and restaurants, especially on the famous Cuba Street.  

4. Visit the Whangarei Falls

Top Ten North Island Destinations

Just north of Auckland the waterfall at Whangarei is a truly spectacular sight. A well trodden walking trail goes around the perimeter, and you can gaze on as the water thunders down from a height of almost 30m. 

5. Take a trip to the Hallertau Brewbar and Restaurant

Just a twenty minute drive from Auckland, Hallertau Brewery produces some of the best craft beer in New Zealand, and has a fantastic restaurant with food to match. This small, family run brewery has only been in operation since 2005, but is fast becoming a popular destination for visiting food and drink lovers, looking for a unique Kiwi twist on various international brewing styles.    

6. Get out on the water in the Bay of Islands

Top Ten North Island Destinations

A short flight north out of Auckland will take you toward the Bay of Islands, just north-east of the town of Russell. The coast is littered with small, sub-tropical islands, and is a hidden paradise for those who enjoy picturesque beaches, pristine waters and abundant sea life. Book a trip on a scheduled cruise, or hire yourself a kayak or yacht, and venture through some of the most spectacular waters in the world. 

7. Visit Auckland

Top Ten North Island Destinations

A trip to New Zealand’s largest, most diverse city will not leave you short of things to do. The city is nestled between two beautiful harbours, and has countless museums, restaurants and places of interest. Among the most popular attractions is the famous Sky Tower, as well as day trips to the Rangitoto and Waiheke Islands.   

8. Explore the breathtaking Tongariro National Park

Top Ten North Island Destinations

Whilst the North Island is not especially known for its scenery in comparison with the South, the Tongariro National Park provides stunning views and majestic volcanic landscapes. Visitors can experience fantastic views of three picturesque and culturally significant volcanoes; namely Mt Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu, and Mt Ngauruhoe – the latter is now recognised around the world after it featured as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  

9. Take a dip in one of the many geothermal springs

The North Island is full of volcanoes and seismic activity, and a wonderful result of this is an extraordinary number of natural hot springs. These no doubt help to soothe locals and tourists alike from the constant threat of volcanic eruption. A relaxing dip in one of the pools is a must, and some popular springs can be found on Great Barrier Island, or at Te Aroha and Coromandel.     

10. Marvel at the Buried Village in Rotorua

Over 100 years ago, the eruption of Mount Tarawera buried an entire village. The incredible remains are now open to the public, with the excavated ruins of the village alongside a museum detailing the history of the eruption.