New Zealand’s North Island Attractions

The North Island of New Zealand, Te Ika-a-Maui if you’re Maori, is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the larger but less populated South Island by Cook Strait.

The North Island of New Zealand is where New Zealand’s main population lives, it’s where New Zealand’s largest city, and main international gateway of Auckland is located as well as New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington.

Photo courtesy of Christopher

Photo courtesy of Christopher

The Twin Coast Discovery Highway, a journey you simply must take when you visit the North Island, begins in Auckland and travels north, tracing both east and west coasts to Cape Reinga and back.

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It will take you to the iconic Bay of Islands, as well as the Kauri Coast, the Far North, and Whangarei.

The east coast is spectacular, with white sandy beaches, relaxed seaside towns and ports where you can catch a cruise or dive trip.

The west coast on the other hand has fewer people, wilder beaches and giant kauri trees.

It’s on the west coast you’ll find the magnificent Tane Mahuta, the biggest kauri tree in existence.

Then you should travel north to Hokianga Harbour and Ninety-Mile Beach, areas with huge white sand dunes and laid back beach communities.

The Bay of Plenty.The North Island of New Zealand is perhaps best known for the unique volcanic plateau at its centre.

This thermal belt contains the active volcanoes Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro and magnificent examples of geysers, boiling mud pools, hot springs and steam vents.

In Waitomo District, the Waitomo Caves, with their caverns, underground rivers and glittering glowworms, are one of the island’s most popular attractions, while up north the historic Bay of Islands is famous for its scenic islands and secluded coves.

Of course active volcanoes, island sanctuaries and historical sites top the list of must see places when visiting New Zealand’s North Island.

In the beautiful Bay of Islands you can take a boat cruise, swim with dolphins, dive, fish or just relax in the sun and don’t forget to visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds, one of New Zealand’s most significant historic sites.

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are part of a 1000 acre gifted site, are referred to as the birthplace of New Zealand.

(1000 acres is about 1.5 square miles or just over 400 hectares.)

The grounds include one of New Zealand’s oldest and most visited historic homes.

Treaty House - The birthplace of the Treaty of Waitangi. Photo courtesy of puting bagwis

Treaty House – The birthplace of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Photo courtesy of puting bagwis

Treaty House, originally named ‘The Residency’ was built for the first British resident, James Busby, and his family.

The name was changed to Treaty House at the request of Lord Bledisloe after the house was restored in 1933.

(Lord Bledisloe was a former Governor General of New Zealand.)

At the very northern tip of the country, Cape Reinga, you can watch the waters of the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea come together.

Northland, one of sixteen “local councils” in New Zealand is a colourful world of beaches, bays and subtropical pleasures.

Northland’s only city, Whangarei, has plenty of accommodation and is an excellent place to enjoy the Northland lifestyle.

Sit at a quayside café and watch the yachts or visit the farmers’ market on a Saturday morning and stock up on the freshest local food.

Go diving, fishing, hiking, swimming, surfing, mountain biking and sightseeing in Northland.

The Northland NZ region incorporates the Bay of Islands and the Far North.

Main centres in Northland include Kaitaia, Paihia, Whangarei, Dargaville, Kerikeri, Waitangi and Russell.

There’s so much to see and do in the North Island you’ll need “a month of Sundays” as my mother used to say but here’s a small sampling of places not to be missed when you visit:


Rotorua Museum.

New Zealand’s Maori Heritage capital and the centre of New Zealand’s thermal activities, Rotorua is the number one place to visit in New Zealand’s north Island.

With a host of different attractions, Rotorua is a place definately not to be missed and you probably you need to allow yourself at least a couple of nights.


The capital of New Zealand, Wellington is a small city built around the harbour, with a lively cafe and bar culture, great shopping and dynamic theatre scene.

Wellington is where the InterIsland ferries connect, when travelling between the North and South Islands.

Bay of Plenty

One of the sunniest regions in New Zealand, the Bay of Plenty is a popular holiday destination for New Zealanders.

A fruit growing area, with orchards, maori culture and spectacular surfing beaches the Bay of Plenty is a major area for the production of kiwi fruit.

The Bay of Plenty is located on the Pacific Coast Highway between Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula and Hawkes Bay.

Reinga Beach.

Bay of Islands

New Zealand’s sub tropical north, where cruising the famous Bay of Island’s to see the “Hole in the Rock” and the dolphins as well as visiting Waitangi National Park, where the famous treaty was signed between Europeans and the Maori should be on everyone’s list.

Hawkes Bay

The wine growing centre of New Zealand’s north island, Hawkes Bay is famous for food and wine.

Not to be missed are the weekend farmer markets, where you can stroll around the stalls and buy some of the local produce.

White Island

White Island is a little off the beaten track for international visitors however, the trip is well worth the time.

The site of New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, you can explore the inner volcano, see the colourful fumaroles and steaming crater-lake by taking a boat trip from Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty for a 6 hour tour.

Not to be missed

Coromandel Peninsula, Waitomo, Auckland, Lake Taupo, Tongariro National Park, there are so many “not to be missed” sites on New Zealand’s North Island that I can’t possibly list them all here, I guess you’ll just have to go for yourself and find them all and when you do I’m sure you’ll……..enjoy,