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14 Places to Visit on New Zealand’s North Island

This collection of the best places to visit on the North Island will tell you all the spots you have to visit on the island.

The landscapes in this part of the world are just breathtaking, be it beaches or mountains there’s beauty around every corner!

There are plenty of places to visit on New Zealand’s North Island, which contains all of the above.

Places such as Rotorua, Taupo and the Bay of Islands are some of the best New Zealand North Island places to see!

The good thing about visiting the North Island is that there’s so much to see and do!

You can go hiking on the Tongariro Crossing or relax on one of the many beaches in the Bay of Islands!

Below are just some of the best places to visit on the North Island that you should include when backpacking New Zealand!

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Best Places to Visit on New Zealand’s North Island

The great thing about the North Island is that there are so many places to visit. It doesn’t what part of the island you’re on, there’s always somewhere great to see nearby.

The below isn’t exhaustive by any means. There are many more places to see, but these are some of the ones I consider to be the best and places I recommend you add to your New Zealand North Island itinerary.


Auckland skyline

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Where to stay

Haka Lodge

Here’s the thing:

The chances are that you’re going to visit Auckland at some point during your trip to New Zealand. As New Zealand’s biggest city, it’s the principal entry and exit point into the country!

There’s plenty to do here, as you’d expect in a big city. You can go to the beach, hike an ancient volcano and check out some of the great museums in the city.

You can also visit the Sky Tower, which is the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere. There’s a casino inside and lots of bars and restaurants too, as well as an observation deck that gives you stunning views of the surrounding area.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Auckland, but it’s somewhere you should definitely visit. There’s every chance that you’ll love the place!

There’s always something happening and it’s a lively place, that reminded me of Sydney!

Read more: 3 days in Auckland

Bay of Islands

a volcano with smoke emanating from the cone in the By of Islands

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Best Activity

Discovery Cruise

The Bay of Islands is one of the most amazing places to see while travelling on the North Island!

Like virtually everywhere in New Zealand, there’s a lot of spectacular scenery. You have picturesque bays and beautiful turquoise waters, what’s not to like?

There are plenty of things to do in the Bay of Islands as well. You can go and relax at the numerous stunning beaches or do an activity such as this Dolphin Watching Tour. You’ll get to see the numerous islands and amazing wildlife!

Don’t make the same mistake as me and be sure to include the Bay of Islands on your North Island itinerary!

Bay of Plenty

Mount Maunganui

Not far from Coromandel, the Bay of Plenty is a beautiful location on the North Island of New Zealand.

This was one of the most beautiful places that I visited while I was on the North Island. Mount Maunganui and Tauranga are fantastic places with golden beaches.

Mount Maunganui has a picturesque beach that is amazing. The Mount in the middle of the beach frames the area really well and makes for a spectacular location!

As with everywhere in New Zealand, there are a lot of things to do here. There are opportunities to go surfing, on a boat tour and do numerous outdoor activities!

There’s plenty to do in the Bay of Plenty (excuse the pun!), so be sure not to miss out while you’re on the North Island!

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Coromandel Peninsula

cathedral cove

The Coromandel Peninsula is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand’s North Island!

The scenery here, on the east coast of the island at the bottom of the Hauraki Gulf, is fantastic. You can see beautiful beaches, incredible mountains and cliffs looking out to the Pacific Ocean. Coromandel was one of my favourite places that I visited.

Driving there through the winding mountains was incredible, and the places you can see on the Coromandel Peninsula aren’t bad either.

There’s Cathedral Cove, which is a beautiful beach, that has, surprise, a cove shaped like a Cathedral! There’s also Hot Water Beach nearby, Where you can create your own hot pool if you dig a hole in the beach! It’s incredible!

The Coromandel Peninsula is one of the best places to see on the North Island, so don’t miss out!


Hobitton in New Zealand

If you love the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, then you have to visit Hobbiton.

This is the set of The Shire in the films and it is amazing and beautiful! For $80 you get a tour of the Hobbiton movie set, detailed descriptions of what happened during the filming and a free cider at the end! What’s not to love?

Here’s the thing:

If you’re not a fan of the films, it may be hard to justify the $80 fee. Apart from the scenery, you might not understand what’s going on. That’s a lot of money to spend to look at a Hobbit village.

If this doesn’t apply to you, then a stop at Hobbiton is a must. The tour and getting to see the hobbit holes is amazing! You also get a free drink at the Green Dragon Inn at the end of the tour!

It’s undoubtedly one of the best things to do in New Zealand!

Huka Falls

Huka Falls

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Where to stay

Haka Lodge

Huka Falls may not be one of the most famous places to visit on New Zealand’s North Island, but it’s certainly one of the best!

As New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction, I was quite surprised that I hadn’t heard about it before I visited!

The Huka Falls are only a few miles north of Taupo and a must-visit when you’re in the area! The 11-metre-high waterfall sees over 220,000 litres flowing per second on this part of the Waikato River.

It truly is an amazing sight, as the water rushes past you at an exceptional speed. The only issue is that the Huka Falls is full of tourists and it can be hard to navigate your way around the sea of selfie sticks!

Otherwise, Huka Falls is a must-visit! As always, nature in New Zealand is mesmerising!


View of lake rotorua

There’s no doubt in my mind that Rotorua is one of the best places to see on the North Island!

Here are two reasons why:

The first one is that there are plenty of things to do in Rotorua. You can race luges, go zorbing and check out some amazing architecture here.

Secondly, the scenery is brilliant. Lake Rotorua is a truly beautiful spot and you could easily spend the whole day relaxing there!

One thing to note is that Rotorua smells, really smells. This is because of the geothermal wonders that lie underneath the ground. It’s built on top of sulphur and the smell of eggs is everywhere! You adapt, but it does stink at first!

That’s about the only bad thing about the place! For me, Rotorua is one of the best places to visit on the North Island! Be sure to check it out!


Lake Taupo

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Where to stay

Haka Lodge

Taupo was one of the places that I knew very little about when I visited the North Island.

Well, it’s safe to say I was pleasantly surprised when I got there. Lake Taupō dominates the area, and makes for a spectacular setting!

The views across the lake are majestic and it’s a great place to relax in the New Zealand sun! There are quite a few other things to do in Taupo as well.

You can go skydiving and hiking among others. One activity that I enjoyed was visiting Action World.

It’s essentially a giant playground for children and adults and it was great fun doing all the activities for an hour or two!

There are plenty of day trips from Taupo you can do, which makes it a great place to base yourself while you’re on the North Island.

Te Papa museum

Me and Stan the T-Rex
With Stan the T-Rex in Te Papa museum

The Te Papa museum was one of the best places I visited while I was on the North Island.

It’s the National Museum of New Zealand and documents the history of the country really well. It also has a lot of interesting natural history exhibits.

While I was there they also had some cool sculptures from The Hobbit as well!

As a dinosaur lover, perhaps the best thing about Te Papa was that they had a great collection of Dinosaurs! just look at how happy I was to be standing next to Stan the T-Rex!

If you’re a history or nature buff, then a visit to Te Papa will be right up your street!

Tongariro Crossing

Tongariro Crossing

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Best Activity

Guided Trek

Without a doubt, hiking the Tongariro Crossing was one of the best places to visit on New Zealand’s North Island!

The hike’s a long one, but it’s worth it, as the views and the stunning scenery are epic! I’m not sure if this was the location for Mordor in the Lord of the Rings, but it certainly felt like I was hiking there!

The landscape is barren in places and you could be forgiven for thinking you’d been transplanted to Mars on this North Island adventure! The looming mountains and hot volcanic landscape are incredible as you traverse the crossing!

It’s an ideal stop on an Auckland to Queenstown road trip. Make sure you set aside a whole day to do the hike!

Tongariro is one of the best places to visit on the North Island! Even if you don’t like hiking, I still recommend it as the views are great!


Wellington skyline one of the many reasons to visit New Zealand

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Where to stay

The Dwellington

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Best Activity

Weta Workshop Experience

Wellington is one of the most beautiful cities in New Zealand a and lively destination at the bottom of the North Island. Even though I visited on Christmas Day and it was really quiet, I still enjoyed my time there immensely!

The capital city of New Zealand is beautiful, even if the weather can get a little bit extreme at times! The waterfront is a beautiful spot as you look across the water. With the Te Papa museum here as well, it’s a must-visit in Wellington!

My visit only lasted for a day, so I couldn’t see everything, but you’ll find plenty of things to do in Wellington. You can visit the zoo, take a cable car ride and see amazing views from the top of Mount Victoria!

Wellington may only be a small city, but it’s somewhere you should visit while on the North Island! The culture and the scenery will leave you wanting to stay for longer!

It’s also a great place to start one of the numerous New Zealand road trips!

Poor Knights Islands

Aorangi Island and Archway Island, part of Poor Knight Islands

Poor Knights Islands is a group of islands near New Zealand’s North Island off the east coast of the island.

You’ll need to get a boat to get there, but it’s worth it. The waters around the islands are a marine reserve, which makes it a perfect place to go snorkelling and scuba diving and see this underwater world.

If you don’t fancy scuba diving, you can go kayaking or paddleboarding to check out the numerous caves, such as the Rikoriko Sea Cave, which is the largest sea cave in the world.

Another good idea is to go on a boat tour to check out the islands. This is one of the best North Island experiences and allows you to see the beautiful ocean water and surroundings of Poor Knights Islands.

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is one of the nicest places on New Zealand’s North Island.

The island is a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland in the Hauraki Gulf and is the perfect place to spend the day if you want to get out of the city.

Waiheke Island is famous for its wineries, and there are numerous ones you can take a tour of. This is a perfect activity for a sunny day.

Adventure seekers shouldn’t be disappointed as you can go mountain biking, and even bring your car on the ferry if you fancy doing some road trips and seeing the sights of the island.

You’ll find some of the best beaches on the North Island on Waiheke Island and if you head to the eastern side of the island via Stony Batter walkway, you’ll find gun placements and underground tunnels from World War II.

Egmont National Park

Mt Taranaki in Egmont National Park

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Where to stay

Ariki Backpackers

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Best Activity

Walking trails around Mt Taranaki

Egmont National Park is located close to the west coast in the southern part of North Island New Zealand.

It’s a beautiful national park that’s famous for being home to an active volcano, Mt Taranaki, which is considered a key part of Maori history.

As well as seeing Mt Taranaki, there’s a lot to do here. There are numerous walking tracks that take you around all the natural wonders in the park such as waterfalls, rainforests and swamps.

Whether it’s climbing Mt Tarankai or enjoying the walking trails in the park, a visit to Egmont is a must if you like being outdoors.

Where to Stay on The North Island

Some of the best hostels in New Zealand are located on the North Island. In the big cities of Auckland and Wellington, you have no shortage of options, which can be a good and bad thing.

Elsewhere, there are plenty of cheap hostels on the North Island scattered about. Popular backpacker hotspots such as Rotorua and Taupo have plenty of accommodation.

Areas around Tongariro and the Coromandel Peninsula aren’t short of places to stay either!

Below are a few hostels that I recommend staying at during a trip to the North Island!

The Attic BackpackersAucklandA vibrant and modern hostel in central Auckland. Great atmosphere here.Book Now
Plateau LodgeTongariroPerfect place to stay if you’re going to Tongariro National Park. Hostel offers a ride there and back daily.Book Now
Rock Solid BackpackersRotoruaA clean and spacious hostel in Rotorua that is very sociable! Really enjoyed my stay here and would highly recommend it!Book Now
YHA TaupoTaupoA hostel with a great location close to Lake Taupo. Facilities are good and the staff were helpful too!Book Now
Waiheke Backpackers HostelWaiheke IslandThis hostel has some of the best views in New Zealand. Worth staying for those alone!Book Now
The MarionWellingtonNice hostel close to the centre of Wellington. Spacious rooms and also has a rooftop terrace!Book Now

Best Time to Visit the North Island

Considering the best time to visit New Zealand is important when visiting the country. The climate does vary between the two main islands and it can be quite different on those islands depending on where you are.

Of the two islands, the North Island is hotter. Temperatures can easily reach the 30s during the summer, with that summer being stretched out into March as well. winter is colder and quite similar in climate to that of Victoria and South Australia in Australia.

You have temperatures around 10 degrees with days that can get considerably colder and a fair amount of rain. Unless you like rain it might be best to avoid visiting during the winter.

Arguably, the best months to visit the North Island are from October to March, when the temperatures are high and the weather is at its best.

With that said, the climate can be volatile at times in New Zealand, so be prepared for any eventuality!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth going to the North Island of New Zealand?

Yes, the North Island is beautiful and there is so much to see and do on the island. You can check out awesome cities such as Auckland and Wellington, and see some spectacular scenery at places like Hamilton Gardens, Kapiti Island and Taupo.

There are plenty of great beaches to check out as well such as Piha Beach and a road trip around the island is one of the best you can do in the country.

How long do you need for the North Island?

You’ll need at least two weeks to see most of the main highlights on the North Island. The island is much bigger than people realise and trying to see everything from Hawkes Bay to Cape Reinga at the top of Northland is difficult even in two weeks.

What is North Island New Zealand known for?

The North Island, much like the South Island, is known for its spectacular scenery. This includes hot springs, Maori rock carvings, towering mountains and volcanoes, stunning beaches, beautiful islands and much more.

Concluding Thoughts

Visiting the North Island is something that you will more than likely do while travelling in New Zealand. The great thing about the country is that no matter where you are, there are loads of places to visit.

The same is true of travelling the South Island. You’re not short of places to visit in New Zealand!

My list of places to visit on New Zealand’s North Island is only scratching the surface. There’s plenty to see on this diverse and beautiful island.

Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Leave me a comment below to let me know what you think!

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Places to visit on the North Island

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