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New Zealand

North Island holidays

Things to do

North Island holiday? No worries.

For some reason, New Zealand’s South Island seems to get most of the attention. But you’d be silly to overlook the charms of the North Island. A diverse destination, it packs in varied landscapes, vibrant cities and loads of opportunities to experience authentic Maori culture. So you can guarantee that, wherever you go, a North Island holiday will be packed with adventure.

Chances are you’ll kick things off in Auckland. New Zealand’s most populous city, it’s got loads of great shops, bars and restaurants – plus fantastic ocean views. But the City of Sails isn’t the only place to enjoy an urban adventure. The capital city, Wellington, has a real artsy vibe, as well as excellent coffee and craft beer scenes. Meanwhile Napier, with its abundance of Thirties buildings, has the air of an English seaside town.

Away from the bright lights of the cities, the North Island has a whole heap of different landscapes just waiting to be explored. In subtropical Northland you’ll find mesmerising kauri forests, high sand dunes and glittering bays occupied by whales and playful dolphins. At Cape Reinga, you can witness two oceans colliding, while the Bay of Islands and the Coromandel Peninsula are famed for their undeveloped beaches.

The central part of the North Island is the place to go for volcanic thrills. First up there’s Rotorua – a geothermal wonderland, this place is all bubbling mud pools, clouds of steam, and natural hot springs. Then there’s Taupo, home to New Zealand’s largest lake, which occupies the collapsed crater of a supervolcano. Taupo is also the gateway to Tongariro National Park. Here you can embark on some of the best hikes in the world, or ski or snowboard down the slopes of still-active Mt Ruapehu.

But hiking and snowsports are by no means the only activities you can enjoy on a North Island holiday. New Zealand has long had a reputation for being the adventure capital of the world – and for good reason. Bungee jumping, skydiving, white-water rafting, canyoning, kayaking and diving are all on offer. So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with our experts and start planning your holiday to New Zealand’s North Island.

Auckland & Wellington

Maori Culture

Things to do

Best time to go

Auckland & Wellington

The North Island’s home to two of New Zealand’s biggest urban centres. Around a third of the entire population live in its largest city, Auckland – and, if you’re arriving from abroad, this is likely where you’ll begin your North Island holiday.

Thanks to two expansive harbours and a spectacular setting on both the Tasman Sea and the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland’s earned itself the nickname the City of Sails – and sailing is indeed a great way to spend your time here. But when you’re not off exploring the water, or cruising to nearby islands, you might want to check out the views from atop Mount Eden or the cloud-piercing Sky Tower.

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Meanwhile, on the south coast of the North Island, you’ll find New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. Although far smaller than Auckland, it’s just as pretty and has loads going on. The downtown area crams in heaps of theatres, galleries and museums, with Te Papa – New Zealand’s national museum – being an absolute must-visit on your North Island holiday. But aside from a thriving arts scene, Wellington’s also got a renowned cafe culture and some excellent craft beer bars.

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Maori Culture

The customs and practices of the indigenous Maori people are an integral part of New Zealand’s culture. And although their influence spreads throughout the country, it’s more keenly felt on the North Island than the South Island.

In Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, you’ll find New Zealand’s most important historic site – the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Here, in 1840, the first 43 Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the British Crown. Pay a visit and you’ll be able to watch enchanting cultural performances in an authentic Meeting House, see a traditional Maori canoe, and discover Maori stories at two museums.

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If you journey further north, you’ll eventually reach Cape Reinga, the northernmost accessible point in the country. In Maori it has a name meaning ‘leaping off place of spirits’ as they believe this is where spirits of the deceased depart from this world and begin their final journey to the afterlife. And if you visit Rotorua during your North Island holiday you can learn all about Maori arts, and see talented carvers and weavers at work, at Te Puia – the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.

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Show Less

Things to do on the North Island

The list of things to do on a North Island holiday is virtually endless. Those looking for an urban adventure should soak up the culture in Auckland and Wellington, or check out the Art Deco charms of Napier. Foodies will be spoiled for choice practically everywhere, but if you’re into your wine you should find time for a vineyard trip. There are nine different wine regions to choose from, with Hawke’s Bay, Martinborough and Gisborne being three of the most popular.

Meanwhile, film buffs will want to book a tour of Hobbiton™ – one of the primary filming locations for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And from there it’s a just a short drive to the geothermal hotspot of Rotorua, famed for its bubbling mud pools and spurting geysers.

Show More
Show Less

Hiking’s one of the most popular things to do on a North Island holiday. There are tonnes of magical landscapes to explore, but for something really special try the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – consistently voted among the best one-day treks in the world. Or if your holiday to the North Island falls during winter, you might want to tackle the slopes of Mt Ruapehu on skis or a snowboard.

But one thing you absolutely have to do during a North Island holiday is spend time at the beach. After all, beaches are what the North Island does best – and where it really gives the South Island a run for its money.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to visit New Zealand's North Island

New Zealand has a largely temperate climate and a fairly small temperature range, although things do get colder the further south you go. So the North Island is generally warmer than the South Island at all times of the year. The summer months – which, on this side of the world, run from December to February – see an abundance of sunshine, with highs hovering around the mid twenties. In the far north, though, things tend to be even hotter and slightly humid. This is a great time of year for a North Island holiday if you’re keen to hit the beach – just bear in mind it’s also when visitor numbers are at their peak.

Show More
Show Less

If you’d prefer to travel when things are a little quieter, you may want to plan your North Island holiday for spring or autumn instead. Temperatures will still be in the high teens or low twenties, but it is likely to be slightly wetter. Winter arrives in New Zealand in June and with it comes yet more rain and colder temperatures – although it still rarely drops much below 10°C. Nevertheless, the mountainous parts of the island will be covered in snow, and skiing is possible right the way through to October.

Show More
Show Less

Auckland & Wellington

Auckland & Wellington

The North Island’s home to two of New Zealand’s biggest urban centres. Around a third of the entire population live in its largest city, Auckland – and, if you’re arriving from abroad, this is likely where you’ll begin your North Island holiday.

Thanks to two expansive harbours and a spectacular setting on both the Tasman Sea and the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland’s earned itself the nickname the City of Sails – and sailing is indeed a great way to spend your time here. But when you’re not off exploring the water, or cruising to nearby islands, you might want to check out the views from atop Mount Eden or the cloud-piercing Sky Tower.

Show More
Show Less

Meanwhile, on the south coast of the North Island, you’ll find New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. Although far smaller than Auckland, it’s just as pretty and has loads going on. The downtown area crams in heaps of theatres, galleries and museums, with Te Papa – New Zealand’s national museum – being an absolute must-visit on your North Island holiday. But aside from a thriving arts scene, Wellington’s also got a renowned cafe culture and some excellent craft beer bars.

Show More
Show Less

Maori Culture

Maori Culture

The customs and practices of the indigenous Maori people are an integral part of New Zealand’s culture. And although their influence spreads throughout the country, it’s more keenly felt on the North Island than the South Island.

In Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, you’ll find New Zealand’s most important historic site – the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Here, in 1840, the first 43 Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the British Crown. Pay a visit and you’ll be able to watch enchanting cultural performances in an authentic Meeting House, see a traditional Maori canoe, and discover Maori stories at two museums.

Show More
Show Less

If you journey further north, you’ll eventually reach Cape Reinga, the northernmost accessible point in the country. In Maori it has a name meaning ‘leaping off place of spirits’ as they believe this is where spirits of the deceased depart from this world and begin their final journey to the afterlife. And if you visit Rotorua during your North Island holiday you can learn all about Maori arts, and see talented carvers and weavers at work, at Te Puia – the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do on the North Island

The list of things to do on a North Island holiday is virtually endless. Those looking for an urban adventure should soak up the culture in Auckland and Wellington, or check out the Art Deco charms of Napier. Foodies will be spoiled for choice practically everywhere, but if you’re into your wine you should find time for a vineyard trip. There are nine different wine regions to choose from, with Hawke’s Bay, Martinborough and Gisborne being three of the most popular.

Meanwhile, film buffs will want to book a tour of Hobbiton™ – one of the primary filming locations for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And from there it’s a just a short drive to the geothermal hotspot of Rotorua, famed for its bubbling mud pools and spurting geysers.

Show More
Show Less

Hiking’s one of the most popular things to do on a North Island holiday. There are tonnes of magical landscapes to explore, but for something really special try the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – consistently voted among the best one-day treks in the world. Or if your holiday to the North Island falls during winter, you might want to tackle the slopes of Mt Ruapehu on skis or a snowboard.

But one thing you absolutely have to do during a North Island holiday is spend time at the beach. After all, beaches are what the North Island does best – and where it really gives the South Island a run for its money.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit New Zealand's North Island

New Zealand has a largely temperate climate and a fairly small temperature range, although things do get colder the further south you go. So the North Island is generally warmer than the South Island at all times of the year. The summer months – which, on this side of the world, run from December to February – see an abundance of sunshine, with highs hovering around the mid twenties. In the far north, though, things tend to be even hotter and slightly humid. This is a great time of year for a North Island holiday if you’re keen to hit the beach – just bear in mind it’s also when visitor numbers are at their peak.

Show More
Show Less

If you’d prefer to travel when things are a little quieter, you may want to plan your North Island holiday for spring or autumn instead. Temperatures will still be in the high teens or low twenties, but it is likely to be slightly wetter. Winter arrives in New Zealand in June and with it comes yet more rain and colder temperatures – although it still rarely drops much below 10°C. Nevertheless, the mountainous parts of the island will be covered in snow, and skiing is possible right the way through to October.

Show More
Show Less

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We Recommend

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

This world-class hike takes in ancient lava flows, glacial valleys and alpine vegetation – plus some spectacularly vivid crater lakes.

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Waitomo Caves

At this underground cave system, illuminated by thousands of tiny glow worms, you can sail along on a boat tour or even try black-water rafting.

We Recommend

Hobbiton

Find yourself transported to Middle Earth with a tour of the Hobbiton™ movie set – a significant filming location for both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

We Recommend

Waiheke Island

Just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, this beautiful island is jam-packed with beaches, vineyards and olive groves.

We Recommend

Cathedral Cove

Accessed via cliff top walking track, this secluded cove on the Coromandel Peninsula is one of the most picturesque spots on the North Island (although it has some stiff competition).

Itineraries

Hotels

How to do New Zealand’s North Island

Keen to kick off your holiday planning but unsure where to start? Our experts will sort everything for you

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Take a look at these popular destinations on the North Island

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Our tailor-made packages make it easy for you to discover more of the world.

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Whether you're looking for luxury or simplicity, we've got the perfect holiday for you.

Trust

Travelbag is fully protected by ATOL and ABTA, so your booking is completely secure.

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