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Things to Do in North Island - page 5

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Auckland Fish Market
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3 Tours and Activities

Whether you see it, hear it, or smell it first, approaching the bustling Auckland Fish Market is always an exciting experience. Here along Auckland’s famous waterfront, fishermen returning to the docks come to sell their fresh catches at auction, and diners come to feast on fish that was literally caught that morning.

At the popular Auckland Seafood School, visitors can learn how to cook and prepare new dishes with a rotating schedule of classes, or simply stroll through the retail market where a dozen restaurants, shops and grocers sell everything pertaining to fish. There’s sushi served in tight hand rolls and baskets of fish and chips, plus markets selling everything from smoked fish and lobster to wine from Auckland’s best vineyards.

Go behind the scenes on a special tour that shows how the fish market functions—from where the fishermen drop off their catch after spending all night at sea, to where local chefs and restaurateurs come to purchase the freshly caught fish. Or for a truly authentic Auckland experience, watch the fish auction on weekday mornings that takes place at 6am, where dozens of buyers gather before dawn to bid on the ocean’s bounty, and nearly 20 tons of seafood are sold each morning here at the Auckland fish auction.

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Kaitoke Regional Park
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Most people know Kaitoke Regional Park as Rivendell, the Elven city where the Fellowship forms in Peter Jackson’sLord of the Rings. But it’s more than that: Kaitoke Regional Park, just outside of Wellington, is an ancient rain forest full of old native trees and winding rivers, and a tranquil place to escape the city for a day or more.

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Sky City Auckland
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2 Tours and Activities

At the base of the Auckland skyline’s most prominent building, you’ll find SKYCITY, an entertainment complex with something for almost everyone. Learn to play table games in the casino, dine in some of Auckland’s most celebrated restaurants, or just take in the sweeping views from the Sky Tower.

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St Patrick's Cathedral
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Located right in the middle of Auckland’s downtown, St. Patrick’s Cathedral stands in stark contrast to the modern city skyline. Founded in 1841 along with Auckland itself, the Catholic cathedral has seen modern-day Auckland literally grow up around it. Today, about 2,500 parishioners gather there for weekly Mass each Sunday morning.

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Lake Rotokakahi (Green Lake)
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1 Tour and Activity

Though it’s right next to the wildly popular Blue Lake, the Green Lake—or Rotokakahi—is a privately owned lake that isn’t open to swimming, fishing, or boating. It is sacred to the Te Arawaiwi (tribe), who are the area’s original Maori inhabitants, because the lake was the site of important battles and numerous sacred burial grounds.

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Puketi Forest (Puketi Kauri Forest)
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2 Tours and Activities

Sprawling across 51,000 acres (20,640 hectares) west of Kerikeri, Puketi Forest (Puketi Kauri Forest) is one of New Zealand’s remaining kauri rain forests. Get close to these giant native trees on the forest’s elevated boardwalks, or try one of the forest’s longer walks and discover some of the more than 360 indigenous plant species that call Puketi home.

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Auckland Town Hall
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2 Tours and Activities

Grandiose in its Baroque design, Auckland’s Town Hall is one of Queen Street’s most prominent and notable buildings. Constructed back in 1911, the Town Hall is one of Auckland’s best venues for musical performances and shows, as its concert chamber is considered to have some of the best acoustics in the world. In the Great Hall, where over 1,500 people can gather in a theater-style setting, many of the world’s top symphonies and orchestras have performed for global dignitaries, and the biggest names in rock and roll have similarly graced the stage.

A permanent fixture is the Town Hall organ, which is not only New Zealand’s largest instrument, but having completed a restoration in 2010, is often considered as one the world’s most marvelous symphony instruments. Aside from the acoustics, Auckland’s Town Hall is visually stunning from the rafters down to the floor, as stained glass windows filter light that falls on kauri wood floors, and chandeliers dangle from a ceiling adorned with exquisite plaster design. It’s a building that was purposefully built to impress, and it continues to do so over a century later, right in the heart of downtown.

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Auckland Zoo
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1 Tour and Activity

See a variety of animals from around the world at Auckland Zoo. Large moats are used instead of bars to separate animals and visitors, meaning that natural habitats are replicated as much as possible. Enjoy seeing and learning about everything from African wetland animals to Australian desert creatures and native Kiwi flora and fauna.

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Velocity Valley
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Visitors to Velocity Valley choose from six adrenaline-fueled activities: Shweeb Racer, Swoop, Agrojet, Freefall Xtreme, Rotorua Bungy, and Freestyle Airbag. Each ride is suitable for daredevils of almost all ages. Activities can be purchased separately or combined as part of a tour package.

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Wairarapa
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36 Tours and Activities

The rural lifestyle and country charm of New Zealand’s heartland are revealed on a trip to the Wairarapa region, an area of sheep-raising, vineyards, and outdoor activities such as horseback riding and hiking through forest parks. Organized bike tours that take in the region’s farms and family-run wineries are most popular.

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More Things to Do in North Island

City Gallery Wellington

City Gallery Wellington

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Permanent and touring exhibitions of contemporary art are displayed at City Gallery Wellington (Te Whare Toi). Works by New Zealand artists are highlighted along with a lively program of contemporary visual arts, architecture, and design. Major international exhibitions are likely to be staged at the gallery, all with free admission.

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Ohinemutu

Ohinemutu

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In the 1800s, Ohinemutu was a quiet Maori village that served as a gateway to the Rotorua region. Today it is a suburb of Rotorua city, but still retains much of its heritage. Take a stroll around the shores of Te Ruapeka Bay and enjoy the quiet—and the rich history—of this unassuming lakeside town.

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Sheepworld

Sheepworld

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At Sheepworld near Auckland, visitors can learn about sheep farming in New Zealand and see how sheep wool is collected and used. Live shows are put on twice daily, during which sheep dogs round up the sheep and shearers shear them. Sheepworld is a family-friendly destination, and lamb feeding is a particular hit with kids.

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Rotoroa Island

Rotoroa Island

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There was once a time where Rotoroa Island was solely reserved for addicts, an isolated outpost where substance abusers were brought to detox and dry. Administered largely by the Salvation Army, the island lasted as a treatment center for nearly 100 years, but today is open to the general public as a heritage and conservation park. Board a ferry from the waterfront in Auckland and journey out to the island, stopping en route at Waiheke Island, which lies to Rotoroa’s west. Upon disembarking on Rotoroa Island, visit the jail where addicts were forced to “dry out” upon arrival, or tour the museum with relics relating to the thousands of patients who lived here. Once you’ve experienced the island’s history, go for a bushwalk along the coast and scan for island wildlife, where there’s even the chance you could spot a native, endangeredtakahe bird. Relax on one of Rotoroa Island’s four different sandy beaches, and admire the view looking back toward Auckland out past the Hauraki Gulf.

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Whangaroa Harbour

Whangaroa Harbour

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Whangaroa Harbour is a coastal town that defines the beauty of the Northland.

Quieter than Paihia in the Bay of Islands and set amidst rolling green hills, Whangaroa Harbour is a laidback retreat full of anglers, hikers, and divers. The fishing here in this protected harbor is some of the best in New Zealand, and famous dive sites like the Rainbow Warrior are located just offshore. For a land based adventure overlooking the water, the trail to the top of “Duke’s Nose” offers sweeping views of the harbor, and provides a way to summit the rocks that tower above the town. Dine on a bowl of fresh fish chowder or sip coffee while strolling the docks, and then make your way to a nearby beach such as Taupo or Matauri Bay. Here you’ll find long, white sand beaches facing the turquoise coast, and a surprising lack of visitors and crowds for such a beautiful part of the world.

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Pukaha National Wildlife Centre

Pukaha National Wildlife Centre

Because of its remote, isolated location and the fact it’s surrounded by water, New Zealand houses species of birds found nowhere else on the planet. Unfortunately, decades of growth and introduced species have had drastic effects on their habitat, with many species having gone extinct from hunting, disease, and predation. One place the birds are thriving, however, is the Pukaha National Wildlife Center, located 2 hours north of Wellington in the Wairarapa region. When visiting this captive breeding sanctuary, you’ll see rare birds like takahe, stitchbirds, saddlebacks, and kokako, and this is the only place in New Zealand where many of these birds are living in captivity. Follow along with daily talks as staff discuss the bird species, and get the chance to feed playful kaka at one of the numerous feeding stations. You can also see New Zealand’s only white kiwi that’s currently found in captivity, and venture inside the nocturnal house for a look at its brown-feathered cousins. You’ll also find slippery, long filled eels and learn their fascinating history, and maybe even lend a hand in planting some native trees.

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Ports of Auckland

Ports of Auckland

One of New Zealand’s largest commercial freight and cruise ship ports, Ports of Auckland is comprised of two seaports: the Port of Auckland and the Port of Onehunga. Most cruise liners dock at the Queens Wharf and Princes Wharf in the Port of Auckland on the Waitematā Harbour, from which passengers can explore Auckland and the North Island.

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CentrePort Wellington

CentrePort Wellington

Perched on the southern tip of the North Island, New Zealand’s capital is an important center for arts and culture, and a popular stop-off for cruise ships. The treasure-filled Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) and the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary are within easy reach of Wellington Cruise Port.

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Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon

A pathway winds through the lunar-like landscape of this geothermal area, leading you past steaming vents and geysers, and gurgling mud pools. Previously dormant, the Craters of the Moon fizzed to life in the 1950s after underground water levels were altered by the activity of a nearby power station.

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Taupo Museum

Taupo Museum

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Located a short walk from where the Waikato River meets Lake Taupo, the Taupo Museum holds the history and culture of the Taupo region for visitors to learn and experience. The museum and art gallery’s many exhibits tell the stories of the local Maori tribes, the town’s early industrial years, and the volcanic origins of the lake itself.

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Volcanic Activity Centre

Volcanic Activity Centre

Turangi’s Volcanic Activity Centre is an educational facility filled with stories and experiences dedicated to the history and science of New Zealand’s volcanic landscapes. Learn about the Taupo region’s geothermal and volcanic activity—from the supervolcano that created Lake Taupo to the still-active Mt. Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park.

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Waipahihi Botanical Gardens

Waipahihi Botanical Gardens

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A welcome contrast to the North Island’s steam plumes, sulfuric mud pools, and rugged geothermal craters, Waipahihi Botanical Gardens are a vibrant and fragrant refuge overlooking Lake Taupo. Wander the 86 acres (35 hectares) of native and foreign flowers and trees, or picnic while enjoying views of the lake and Tongariro National Park.

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Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley

Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley

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Steam surges from the ground of this active geothermal valley, which rises up from boiling mud and colorful hot pools. As well as boasting geothermal phenomena, Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley features a camping ground with small animals such as chickens and sheep.

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Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa

Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa

Cascades of mineral-rich water tumble into steaming bathing pools at this outdoor thermal spa. As well as a garden filled with native flora, the complex encompasses a manmade geothermal site with silica terraces, blue-and-green steam pools, a geyser, and replica Maori huts.

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