Spring is right on our doorstep, and it’s time to start packing away your winter woollies and plan your getaway for the warmer months. The North Island has so much to offer and we think it’s the perfect destination to explore this spring and summer.
To help you out, we’ve created a list of the top 9 things to do around the North Island to add to your spring and summer must-do list.
1. Taupō: Glide across the lake with Taupō Kayaking Adventures.
Cruise around Lake Taupō and take in the sights at your own pace. Taupō Kayaking Adventures offers a range of options to suit your ideas and fitness level. From Maori Rock Carvings Tour to Overnight Tours, there is something for everyone, and it is guaranteed to be a day full of fun for all.
Need somewhere to crash after your day of exploration? Check out all of our Taupō properties here.
Taupō: Gaze upon the natural wonder of Huka Falls.
You won’t be surprised to hear the Huka Falls are one of the most visited natural attractions in New Zealand. With water as blue as the sky and a rumbling sound to fill your ears, these falls are sure to take your breath away. Located only 5 minutes drive from Taupō, this is the perfect adventure for the whole family to enjoy.
Taupō: Get your adrenaline pumping at Taupō Bungy & Swing.
If you are a thrill seeker and ready to throw yourself into the deep end (literally), Taupō Bungy & Swing is the perfect place to get your heart racing. Leap from New Zealand’s only cliff-top Bungy or soar through the air on an exhilarating giant swing. A truly once-in-a-lifetime experience!
After all that adrenaline, you will need somewhere cosy to relax. Put your feet up in one of our Taupō holiday homes.
2. Rotorua: Rejuvenate your skin at Hell’s Gate geothermal reserve and mud spa.
Immerse yourself in myth and legend at New Zealand’s most unique geothermal experience; Hell’s Gate. Take part in a guided or self-guided interactive walk, followed by a relaxing soak in the geothermal mud and sulphur waters to experience the healing properties local Māori have been using for centuries. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
Don’t let your relaxation stop there. Check out all of our Rotorua properties to treat yourself to some R&R.
Rotorua: Take a snap of the world-famous Pink and White Terraces at Waimangu Volcanic Valley.
New Zealand is renowned for its geothermal activity, which makes for a truly insightful experience. Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the world’s youngest geothermal area following an explosion in 1886 and is famous for hosting the most extensive natural hot spring, Frying Pan Lake.
Feel intrigued? You will need to make a weekend of it and check it out yourself! View all of our Rotorua properties here.
3. Waikato: Discover the world-class Hamilton Gardens.
Wander through captivating spaces at the Hamilton Gardens, a true one-of-a-kind botanical experience. Each themed garden tells a story and transitions across various eras of time and cultures. Take a moment to relax in the Japanese Garden of Contemplation, travel back in time amongst the Italian Renaissance Garden or for a bit of magic, head over to the Surrealist Garden for a playful take on Alice in Wonderland.
Need some more time to explore? Make a weekend of it and stay at one of our Waikato holiday homes.
4. Great Barrier Island: Pack your bags and head to Great Barrier Island.
A short 30-minute scenic flight from Auckland, Great Barrier Island is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. Immerse yourself in the lush bush, spectacular walks and crystal clear water. With over 70% of the island being a protected conservation park, you will feel like you have travelled back in time to an untouched destination.
Want to spend more time discovering Great Barrier Island? Check out Frosty’s Retreat to experience ultimate serenity from the outside world. Or check out all of our Auckland holiday homes for a different type of getaway.
5. Matakana: Browse fresh produce stalls and local treasures at Matakana Market.
Matakana is an easy 45-minute drive from the city of sails and is the perfect day trip or weekend getaway location. The charming village hosts stylish boutiques, delightful food and wine, art galleries and more.
Every Saturday, you will find the Matakana Village Farmers’ Market (rain, hail or shine). From coffee to local live music, there is something for everyone.
Rest your legs after a day of browsing the stalls, check out our Matakana accommodation here.
6. Coromandel: Dig your own natural hot pool at Hot Water Beach.
Pack a spade and a bucket, and have a go at digging your own personal ‘spa’ at Coromandel’s famous Hot Water Beach. Under the surface, naturally, heated mineral water emerges from deep within the earth the deeper you dig to create a pool of hot water just metres from the refreshing ocean.
There’s so much more to explore in the Coromandel, stay for the weekend and discover it yourself. Check out all Coromandel holiday homes here.
7. Hawkes Bay: Wine and dine amongst the vines in Hawke’s Bay.
Hawke’s Bay is the getaway place for you if you’re a fan of fine wine, delightful food, art deco and outdoor experiences. Within this region, you will find some of New Zealand’s top vineyards, including Craggy Range, Clearview Estate and Trinity Hill.
Not ready to leave the fabulous Hawkes Bay just yet? Snuggle up in one of our Hawkes Bay holiday homes for the weekend.
8. Northland: Have an action-packed day of fun at Te Paki sand dunes.
If you’re after both an adrenaline rush and a leg workout, then we have the activity just for you! Give Sandboarding a go as you slip and slide down the sandy slopes at Te Paki sand dunes. A perfect pit stop on your next Northland roadie and an excellent activity for the whole family.
If you need somewhere to rest your legs after your thrilling day of fun, check out our Northland accommodation for somewhere to relax.
9. Wellington: Pack some snacks and head to Wellington Zoo for the day.
Have a wild day out at New Zealand’s first zoo and Wellington’s oldest conservation organisation – Wellington Zoo. Get up close and personal with Giraffes, Meerkats, Red Pandas and more. With daily animal talks and two delicious places to refuel on caffeine and snacks, there is so much for the whole family to enjoy.
Things To Do in the North Island – A Local Guide’s Itinerary
Ready to get out and about and explore all that the North Island has to offer? Browse all North Island properties here and find your happy place.
Odds are if you’re reading this you have either planned a trip to New Zealand or want to plan a trip. If you happen to be in that second group, do yourself a favour and get planning. Even it’s a year or two in advance, I promise you that it’s worth it. The people, culture and geography of this country is something special.
To help you build your North Island Itinerary, here are the highlights from my North Island experience with my Kiwi firends.
My flight from the east coast of the United States to New Zealand brought me one day into the future, giving me lots of jet lag with it. After recovering from my time travel, my first journey was to the beaches. I was told to grab my “togs” and “jandals”, whatever those things were… (I was later informed togs are your swimsuit and jandals were flip flops or sandals).
My first New Zealand beach experience was to the tucked away Anawhata Beach just 38 km (23.6 miles for us imperial system users) from Auckland. Everyone told me it was “cool as”.
This mysterious beach is truly a hidden gem amongst the forest. After turning off the main road and onto a windy and narrow 7 km dirt road we eventually come out to a small clearing used as the car park. The car park sat on a lovely lookout overseeing the beach giving me a moment to soak it all in.
There is about a 20 to 30 minute walk down to the beach (depending on how excited you are). Towards the middle of the beach is a rock formation that has a small path to the top of the rock to give you another view of the beach.
During the time we were there we didn’t see a soul so if you’re looking for a quiet and more personal experience, Anawhata is a must!
Anawhata has a bigger and noisier neighbour named Piha. This well known Beach was definitely near the top of my list for beaches to see with its famous Lions Rock and for being only 40 km (24.8 miles) from Auckland.
Piha does not require windy dirt roads or walks through the woods. We just found a spot to park and strolled onto the beach. I was wonderfully greeted by the towering Lion Rock and the long, wide beach perfect for sunset strolls.
I couldn’t resist taking a walk up Lions Rock. It has an amazing view of Piha and the surrounding hills with beautiful houses scattered amongst them.
View our selection of Piha Accommodation & Holiday Homes by clicking here!
Being just down the road from Piha I couldn’t say no to a nice walk into the forest to see these falls. After about a 30 minute walk we came out to the base. From there, we decided to hike up another 20 minutes to the top.
Due to recent rainfall, it ended up taking about 30 minutes because of how slippery the mud was. The view from the top overlooks the large waterfall and the surrounding hills – well worth the muddy shoes!
Cathedral Cove at Hahei
If you’re looking for a beach that takes the wow factor up a notch the east coast beach area of Hahei is the place to go. A fair warning if you are planning to stay in Auckland. Hahei will be about a 2 hour and 25 minute car ride so plan on finding a place to stay while you’re there.
We took a ride right through the Coromandel Forest Park so there was plenty of natural entertainment. The park is full of breathtaking mountains with farms spread out along the rolling hills before the jagged mountains.
If you had googled Hahei before this you would have probably seen some beach with an enormous cave. This would be Cathedral Cove. It is about a 30 to 45 min walk in from the path just outside the main town of Hahei. The path took us through the forest along the coastline.
Every so often we’d come across a lookout to reveal the beautiful cliffs that shape the coast and the many islands that look like the tops of mountains poking out from the sea.
Hahei Beach is often overlooked, caught in the shadow of its more famous neighbour Cathedral Cove. It’s genuine beauty is underrated, and something not to be missed.
Being the local beach to Hahei town centre, you can run outside and be at the water in minutes no matter where you stay. Although its not as dramatic as Cathedral Cove with the big cave and cliffs, I had just as much fun body surfing the waves in the middle of winter.
FUN TIP: There’s a hidden rope swing on the far left side of the beach that is great fun for the kids (or if you’re still a kid at heart). We sure had a tonne of fun!
Luge at Rotorua
Next stop after the beaches was to the thrill-seeking town of Rotorua 3 hours outside of Auckland (also known as “Rotovegas” to the locals). From the many activities to take part in we made our way the well-known luging at Skyline.
There’s three courses to choose ranging from easy to difficult and a chairlift to take you back up for nonstop fun. Being the “American Tourist” my Kiwi friends immediately took me onto the most difficult course to test my abilities on the fly. I was given the reassurance that “she’ll be right!”. Thankfully I met their expectations!
I was brought to Te Puia to get a glimpse of New Zealand’s natural geothermal wonders, Kiwi birds, Maori culture and that wonderful smell of sulfur. Whether you’re interested in geography, the power of nature or New Zealand’s culture, this is a good place to start.
Around the area are lots of walkways and bridges to observe all the steaming and bubbling holes scattered around the park. After walking around the park we made our way to this black dome shaped building to see the famous Kiwi bird.
Inside the building it’s completely dark with only a faint red light to guide you to the birds protected area. We had to be very silent and were not allowed to take any pictures while in the habitat. Fortunately we were lucky and patient enough to get a quick look at a Kiwi bird waddling its way around the habitat.
Redwood Tree walk (Redwood Nightlights)
To finish off the day in Rotorua we ventured a few minutes out of town to the Redwood Tree Walk. Unlike most walks this one is hung 12 meters above the ground. It’s made up of suspension bridges connecting 22 different redwood trees to make a 553 meter walk.
At night trees all around park are decorated with unique handmade lights by David Trubridge to make the tree walk at night a totally different experience. Walking at night with the lights and being high up off the ground was truly a one of a kind experience.
Coming from a Snowboarding background, New Zealand in the winter was just what I needed. To satisfy my need for snow we headed to the volcanic Mt. Ruapehu. The journey takes about 4 hours and 30 minutes so we booked a cozy chalet to stay in for the weekend.
The first day we all went up to the mountain to enjoy the early season snowfall from the day before. The terrain on the mountain was unlike anything I have ridden before. With no trees what so ever on the mountain, large rocks and boulders took their place to shape each trail.
This terrain gave me plenty of cliff drops and snow drifts to have fun on. A warning for those who like to venture off the beaten path; Rocks hide very cleverly under the thin early season snowpack so beware of your expensive gear.
Embrace the thrill at Tongariro River Rafting.
Awaken your senses and kickstart your adrenaline at Tongariro River Rafting. You’ll be wrapped up nice and snug in polar fleece, waterproof jackets, a snug wetsuit and boots – you won’t even feel the cold…. unless you fall in! An activity for the brave but one that will never be forgotten.
Need a place to snuggle up and get cosy in? View all of our Mt Ruapehu properties here.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The next day we headed to the acclaimed Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Unfortunately due to snow and insufficient gear we couldn’t complete the full 19.4 km hike. We hiked about 7 km to the saddle near the summit before hunkering down for lunch, taking in the beautiful landscape. Well worth the walk. We had an amazing view of Mt. Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom for you Lord of the Rings fans) and the surrounding mountains and craters.
The Tongariro Crossing is considered a moderately difficult hike but in the winter, weather can change very quickly and make a fun day on the mountain not so fun. For more information on the Tongariro Crossing during the winter click here.