New Zealand North Island Experiences To Check Off Your Bucketlist

New Zealand's Southern Lights green purple

New Zealand is high on a lot of people’s lists of places to travel, and with good reason. It’s one of the most beautiful, adventurous, and unique destinations anywhere on the globe, and is truly the sort of place where you can make memories that last a lifetime. As with most destinations that good, there’s almost too much to do for a single trip. For that reason, we’re going to narrow this list of attractions and activities down to New Zealand’s North Island. Here are 10 things you should try to fit in.

Read: New Zealand South Island Attractions You Must See On Your Road Trip

10 Attractions in North New Zealand You Absolutely Must Visit

1. Tour Hobbiton

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour Lord of The Rings Matamata entr

The beautiful rolling hills of The Shire from The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit are considered to comprise some of the most beautiful movie sets in modern cinema, if not of all time. And they actually exist in the north of New Zealand. You can sign up for tours through this fantasy land and get lost among the hobbit holes like you’re just another Tolkien character in Hobbiton. It’s a must-see location for fantasy fans or anyone that enjoyed the movies.

Read: The Hobbit Behind The Scenes; Hobbiton Movie Set Tour at Matamata

2. Zorbing at Rotorua

Zorbing—where you roll around within a protective air-filled ball—has caught on all around the world. But it got started in New Zealand, and you can try it for yourself at Rotorua. Climb inside one of the bouncy balls and take a roll down a beautiful grassy hill with the rest of the family. It’s a fun and safe activity for anyone who loves a thrill, and will definitely be something new for you to try!

We rolled down the hills of OGO Rotorua, and didn’t regret it one bit! Because we went at the start of winter, we were worried that being dressed in a swimsuit will freeze the hell out of us in the 10+ degree celcius weather. We were basking in the warmth of the warm water within the ball, and the thrill of being topsy and turvy as the ball rolled downhill was dizzyingly fun! At the end of the experience, we even got to soak in an outdoor jacuzzi tub filled with warm water – there could be no better way to end this exciting sport!

3. Visit the Waiheke Island Vineyards

New Zealand has become known as a terrific wine producing region, and many of the best wines from the country come from a small island near Auckland, called Waiheke Island. It’s worth a visit – it’s a beautiful place that manages to stand out even among the rest of New Zealand’s natural wonders. It’s also a fantastic place to tour vineyards and sample world-class wine. Call ahead to set up a tour for yourself and enjoy an afternoon tasting some of the best that New Zealand has to offer.

4. Skydive at Lake Taupo

There are a few places to try skydiving in this part of the world. But not many of them have the kind of view that can beat seeing Lake Taupo while you’re hurtling down through the air. The lake is among New Zealand’s most famous attractions, and makes for an incredible backdrop for one of the most thrilling experiences of your life. Keep in mind that you’re not actually skydiving into the lake, but you can certainly go for a swim or rent a boat once you’re finished.

Read: 20 Favourite New Zealand Instagram Shots To Swoon Over (& Where To Find Them!)

5. Relax at SKYCITY Auckland

This is an unexpected attraction given that New Zealand has gotten on board the online casino train lately. The best sites in New Zealand now offer all the most popular table games, in addition to pokies, card games, roulette and much more. Despite this development, SKYCITY Auckland remains a popular attraction for those looking to try their luck on the North Island. It comes with all the gaudy charms and amenities you expect of a casino, and makes for a nice dose of relaxation in a country filled with nature and adventure.

6. Take a Maori Tour

Maori cultural village, New Zealand | Bel Around The World
Maori cultural village, New Zealand

There are actually all kinds of way ways to experience the famed Maori culture of New Zealand, and most of them are on the North Island. In some cases you can tour a village or settlement. In others you can watch a performance to appreciate the rich and unique traditions of the Maori people. Sometimes you can even stay in an area populated by Maori and meant to provide the full cultural experience for visitors. If you’re a history and culture buff in particular, this is a necessary addition to your New Zealand travel list.

7. Check out the Waiotapu Geothermal Reserve

Waiotapu geothermal geyser

Most of New Zealand is gorgeous, but few places are as unique to behold as the geothermal reserves at Waiotapu. These are volcanic areas that have over thousands of years produced colourful, otherworldly pools. There are also fascinating mud pools, and you have to make sure you check out the Lady Knox Geyser while you’re there, too! Waiotapu is a must-see natural adventure that shouldn’t be passed up by anyone trying to experience the wonders of the North Island.

8. Explore the Waitomo Glowworm Caves

20 Favourite New Zealand Instagram Shots To Swoon Over

Continuing with the idea of exploring unique sights on the North Island, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves are also pretty exceptional. It’s a brief tour, but you’ll take a boat ride through caverns where tiny wildlife make the walls and ceilings glow like a starry night. It’s almost like something out of the movie Avatar. In fact, director James Cameron based much of his alien vision on bioluminescent life forms in exotic places.

If you’re a daredevil like me, try blackwater rafting! You’ll see equally exceptional sights of the glowworm in the dark caves, while experiencing the thrill of rafting in the pitch black cave!

9. Visit the Auckland Zoo

Particularly if you have children with you on your trip to New Zealand, you might want to stop by the Auckland Zoo. A zoo in this part of the world has a lot to live up to given the region’s reputation for wildlife and natural beauty, and the Auckland Zoo doesn’t disappoint. It’s home to 138 different species, including big cats, fascinating primates, exotic reptiles, and even a gorgeous array of birds. There’s even a separate area just for elephants!

10. Ski Turoa

You might not expect it, but New Zealand is also home to a quality ski resort. Turoa is known for catering to skiers of all different levels, and it’s a very different kind of skiing or snowboarding experience. The views on the way down are flatter than in a lot of other skiing destinations, and there is a little less focus on resort amenities and hospitality. But the skiing is good and is quite the treat for those looking for something different during their trip.

We just can’t get enough of New Zealand, can we?

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2 Replies to “New Zealand North Island Experiences To Check Off Your Bucketlist”

  1. Nice list, Isabel, except that Wanaka is on the South Island. You can replace it with the Poor Knights Islands, Tane Mahuta, Koutu beach or Lake Taupo. Zealandia might also be more memorable than Auckland Zoo.

    1. Thanks for your sharp eye Nicholas! You’re truly a world traveller. 🙂

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