Weekend Getaways NZ North Island: Incredible Things To Do in New Zealand North Island

Weekend Getaways NZ North Island: Time to Get Planning With These Incredible Things To Do in New Zealand North Island!

A firm favourite amongst travellers, New Zealand frequently tops the most-see list for tourists.  Though we have many itineraries to help travellers to New Zealand, this post is targeted at those looking to escape for just a couple of days. 

Maybe you were born in New Zealand and are looking for fresh weekend getaway inspiration?  Maybe you’ve temporarily made it your home and are looking to maximise your weekends to see the country?  Either way, we’re here to help you plan your weekend getaways in NZ’s North Island.

With so many amazing things to do in New Zealand North Island, it can be hard to know where to begin!

To make life easy for you, we’ve organised the following NZ North Island weekend getaways from north to south and have also mentioned the best season(s) to visit.  However, thanks to the mild climate in New Zealand and the massive variety of things to do, there really isn’t a bad time to plan your weekend break.

Each of the weekend getaways NZ North Island that we’ve listed have multiple activity ideas; far too many, in fact, for just the one weekend away.  With that in mind, you’ll want to either choose the activities that appeal most to you, or cherry-pick your favourites and then get right onto planning your next weekend break!

Each and every North Island weekend getaway that we recommend is fantastic, so it’s really just a matter of choosing what you think are the best things to do in New Zealand North Island and hitting the road.

So, let’s get planning the very best of these weekend getaways NZ North Island…


Northland: The Start of our Amazing Things To Do in New Zealand North Island

Tropical, chilled and distinctly Kiwi, the northern-most part of the North Island offers so much to visitors – so much so that you’ll probably want to plan a second trip back!

When to Visit Northland

Beautiful at any time time of year, Northland is the warmest part of New Zealand.  If you’re planning on getting into the water though, we do recommend visiting from December/January onwards (or being prepared to slip into a wetsuit).

Where to Stay

What to Do in Northland


Weekend Getaways NZ North Island:  Auckland

The most populated region in New Zealand, Auckland deserves more attention than it often gets.  With the rare mix of big-city fun and outdoors adventure, the city offers much more than you might at first expect.

When to Visit Tāmaki Makaurau

With relatively temperate weather and lots to do indoors, Auckland really is suited to any season.  Summer and spring are our favourite seasons in the city though.

Where to Stay

What to Do in Auckland



Waikato

A stone’s-throw from Auckland, the Waikato offers a number of awesome weekend getaway options.  The region offers a little bit of everything – from world-class tourist attractions (surely you’ve heard of the Waitomo Caves?) to farm stays and surf beaches, there’s plenty to do in the mighty Waikato.

When to Visit the Waikato

The Waikato is another spots that’s great at any time of year.  We especially love it there in the spring-time, when the grass is fresh, the lambs are new and the weather is just starting to warm up.

If you’re in the region in mid/late March, be sure to check out the Balloons over Waikato Festival.

Where to Stay

What to Do in the Waikato

  • Visit the world-famous Waitomo Caves.  Choose from the more commercial operation (best for people with limited mobility) or the family-owned Glowing Tours (which we personally recommend).  If you’re looking for a real adventure, get into a wetsuit and go blackwater rafting!
  • Enjoy the cafe scene and hit the surf at Raglan.
  • Head along to Matamata where you’ll find Hobbiton; the infamous backdrop to the Lord of the Rings movies.
  • Enjoy the Hamilton Gardens, being sure to spend time at the Indian Char Bagh Garden – it’s stunning!
  • Visit the Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park.  This is one of your best opportunities to see our incredible native birds (most notably kiwis) and tuatara too.
  • Enjoy the beautiful 55m-high Bridal Veil Falls.
  • Visit Tirau, the ‘Corrugated Capital of the World’ and prepare to snap some photos.
  • Be amazed by the incredible waters of the Blue Spring as you wander Te Waihou Walkway.

The Coromandel: Weekend Getaways NZ North Island

The Coromandel Peninsula is known for its gorgeous coastlines and native bush.  Being so central in the North Island, it makes for a convenient getaway from many other spots.

When to Visit the Coromandel

Spring/summer/autumn.  Keep it mind that the Coromandel will be noticeably busier during the summer season so book in advance if that’s when you’re planning this weekend getaway.

Where to Stay

What to Do in the Coromandel

  • Pay a visit to one of our most unique beaches; Hot Water Beach.  Take a shovel, dig yourself a hole and relax in the naturally occurring geothermal waters.
  • Enjoy Cathedral Cove by either hiking in or catching a ride on a boat.
  • Take on the challenge of canyoning in one of the most spectacular spots you can possibly do it!
  • Hike
  • Check out ‘the 309 Road‘.  There you’ll meet Stu and his pigs, enjoy marvelling at kauri trees and be able to visit a home-grown park, the Waterworks.
  • Relax in absolute bliss at the Lost Springs thermal pools.
  • Hire a kayak and enjoy one of the real highlights of the region; head over to the Whenuakura Wildlife Sanctuary (Donut Island).
  • Enjoy the Gemstone Bay Snorkel Trail.
  • Hike or bike the Karangahake Gorge – it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic lunch.
  • See a working gold mine in action in Waihi – you can even join a guided tour.
  • Hike up and over to New Chums Beach.  This privately accessed beach is one of the most beautiful in the country.


Rotorua – Home to the Best Things To Do in New Zealand North Island

If you’re looking for adventure in the North Island of New Zealand, look no further than Rotorua!  Add to that incredible geothermal activity and your best shot at experiencing an authentic Maori evening out, and you’ll find Rotorua ticks all of your tourist-loving boxes.

Be warned though, there is so much to do in Rotorua that the list we’ve included below barely scratches the surface.

When to Visit Rotorua

We love Rotorua any time of year! Summer’s are the perfect time to hit the local lakes but the slightly cooler seasons are great soon; all of the tourist providers are equipped to welcome you in cooler weather and the hot pools are at their best then.

Where to Stay

What to Do in Rotorua

You’ll have no shortage of amazing things to do in New Zealand North Island whilst visiting Rotorua!

Rotorua is one of our favourite places to visit in the North Island.  Be sure to read up on all of the adventures that we’ve had there!



The Bay of Plenty: Tauranga/Mt Maunganui

Home to one of the most picturesque surf beaches in the country, visitors could be forgiven for thinking they’ve landed on the Gold Coast of Australia whilst soaking up the sun at ‘the Mount’.

When to Visit the Bay of Plenty

This is another spot that is suited to all seasons, but in our opinion, you just can’t beat the Mount in the summertime.

Where to Stay

What to Do in the Bay of Plenty

  • Go for a swim at the base of the Mount.  The Mount Hot Pools warm salt water to perfection so it’s a great spot to unwind.
  • Take a swim at Mt Maunganui – one of the most spectacular surf beaches in the country.
  • Climb Mt Maunganui (the Mount), for spectacular views back over the beach (and a good dose of exercise at the same time).
  • Head out on the Bay Explorer for a great chance at seeing dolphins in the wild!
  • Live your US summer camp dreams at Waimarino Adventure Park.
  • When the sun goes down, jump in a kayak and enjoy time in the most densely populated glow worm canyon in the entire country.  Even better, they provide wine and cheese on the tour!
  • Take it incredible local scenery by horseback.
  • Enjoy the Tauranga Art Gallery – best of all, entry is free.
  • Visit the Hairy Maclary sculpture park.  Any Kiwi kid will be able to tell you all about the colourful characters brought to life by Dame Lynley Dodd.


Taupo

Right in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island, the Taupo region offers a great deal to tourists, especially those looking to get outdoors and immersed in snow sports.  Also home to the largest lake in Aotearoa, Taupo makes an excellent stop as you move up and down the country.

When to Visit Taupo

Taupo is perfect in the depths of winter, when the snow is on the mountains and the steam from hot pools rises into the air.  If you’re keen to party as the base of the slopes, be sure to head along to Ohakune for Mardi Gras, held in June.  The ski season generally runs from June until October.

Where to Stay

What to Do in and around Taupo – There are so many things to do in New Zealand North Island there!

  • Head over to Mt Ruapehu and ski or snowboard.  This is the main place in the North Island where we have snowsports on offer.  Depending on where you’re staying and the experience that you’re after, you’ll choose to access either Turoa or Whakapapa; both are accessed using the same lift pass, but as they’re a fair distance from one another, you’ll want to choose one side of the mountain for each day you’re up there.  Our personal favourite is Whakapapa.
  • Snap a photo with the giant carrot in Ohakune (it’s the biggest in the world, don’t you know?).
  • Be sure to pick up a chocolate eclair whilst in Ohakune – they’re seriously good!
  • Take on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – it’s the only Great Walk that is undertaken in just a day.
  • Once back in Taupo, try your luck at the ‘hole in one’ challenge on the lake.
  • Check out the geothermal activity at Craters of the Moon.
  • Enjoy the view of the Huka Falls, or should you choose, hit the water on the Hukafalls Jet.
  • Join a tour and kayak over to ancient Maori carvings, tucked away at Mine Bay on Lake Taupo.
  • Eat inside a real airplane at McDonalds!
  • Throw yourself off a bridge with Taupo Bungy.
  • Jump out of a plane with Skydive Taupo.
  • Soak your tired muscles at DeBretts – beautiful natural hot pools that will let you relax (whilst the kids go crazy on the slides).


Taranaki: New Plymouth

One of the smaller centres on our list, Taranaki still has plenty to offer, especially if you’re a nature-lover.

When to Visit New Plymouth

From mid December until early February, you’ll be able to experience the Festival of Lights.

Where to Stay

What to Do in New Plymouth

  • Visit the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.  This space is stunning and is recognised as being the “most courageous contemporary art museum” in New Zealand.
  • Hike the Pouakai Crossing to Pouakai Tarns where you’ll be rewarded with the most spectacular views of Mount Taranaki (and a picture perfect reflection if the weather is still enough).
  • If you’re feeling brave (and fit), climb/hike all the way to the top of Mt Taranaki.
  • From mid December to early February, check out the Festival of Lights – the only one of its kind in New Zealand.
  • Take your time on the Forgotten World Highway; the only remaining unsealed portion of our state highway network.
  • Check out the architectural Te Rewa Rewa bridge, a part of the coastal walkway.
  • If travelling during winter, you might like to check out the Manganui Ski Area.  It’s a lovely little home-grown ski field.

Wellington (& the Wairarapa): Last but Not Least of our Weekend Getaways NZ North Island

The capital of Aotearoa, Wellington is renowned for its vibrant arts scene and fantastic cafe culture.  It’s also the perfect place to catch a ferry and head over to the South Island (if you’ve got a little more time on your hands).

When to Visit Wellington

Like Auckland, Wellington has a range of activities that will keep you busy during any season.  If you are able to, we suggest timing your visit to coincide with either the

  • WOW (World of WearableArt) – late September – mid October, or
  • CubaDupa: New Zealand’s largest street festival – late March.

Where to Stay

What to Do in and around Wellington

The North Island of New Zealand is diverse, interesting and just waiting to be discovered.  Where will you head first?


Planning your own exciting weekend getaways NZ North Island and looking for the best things to do in New Zealand North Island?  Pin this post…

Photo Credits: David Kirkland, Northland NZ, Auckland Council, Whakarewarewa Living Maori Village, Katie Cox, Department of Conservation Tauranga, Johnny Hendrikus, Rebecca Kempton, Jeremy Beckers

Plan your North Island adventure in New Zealand. With activities and accommodation for all of the key tourist centres in the North Island, you\'ll have everything you need to plan an amazing vacation in Aotearoa (New Zealand). #travel #newzealand

One thought on “Weekend Getaways NZ North Island: Incredible Things To Do in New Zealand North Island

  1. stufahy says:

    I’m hopefully heading back to New Zealand in February for my third visit. Whilst I prefer the South Island there’s still loads to see in the North, a lot of the ones on your list I didn’t know about! One thing I desperately want to do when I go back is the Tongariro Crossing near Taupo. This article has given me more things to look out for too.

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