Planning a trip to New Zealand might feel like it’s all flights, car hire and accommodation but once you’ve got that sorted you dig into the good stuff – how are you going to fill your time as you make your way through this gorgeous country? Here is my pick of the best things to do in New Zealand North Island, with my favourite day tours and trips that we can book for you to make sure your time in New Zealand is well spent. 

Many holidays to NZ begin in Auckland and whether you’re staying here for a few days or heading out further to explore, there are plenty of day tours from Auckland:

1. Auckland Jet Boating

Jet boating has become a New Zealand ‘institution’ and most people try it on the wide rivers of the Otago in the South Island. However, you can experience the excitement as soon as you touch down with Auckland Jet Boat Tours. Zooming around the harbour you get the best of both worlds - stunning views of the Auckland skyline as well as the thrills of spinning 360s just minutes from the biggest city in New Zealand. Warning – wear clothing you’re happy to get wet! 

Auckland Jet Boat Tours | things to do in north island new zealand

Photo credit:

2. Hobbiton Tours

You might think Hobbiton tours would only appeal to fans of Lord of the Rings, but the pretty doors and quaint vegetable gardens of the Shire’s smallest residents enchant everyone who steps through the wooden gate. Half of all visitors leave wanting to re-watch the films and the other half decide they’d like to watch them on the long plane ride home. Guides will show you around the flower laden wheelbarrows and thatched buildings before you try a pint of cider at the Green Dragon, the haunt of Hobbits from all over. We can help you arrange Hobbiton tours from Auckland if this is on your list! 

Hobbiton is a must see for any Lord of the Rings fan! | things to do in north island new zealand

Heading further afield than Auckland:

3. Ziplining Rotorua

I’m not going to lie, I approached ziplining with a fair amount of trepidation, even though it’s high on the list of things to do in Rotorua. Jumping off a platform attached to a wire to soar through the trees is not my idea of fun, but by the time the amazing team at Canopy Tours had peeled me off the tree trunk and sent me flying down that cable I realised that’s exactly what it is – fun! Plus the walks between each platform reveal the plentiful birdlife of this virgin area of forest, as well as the teams’ hard work to protect it from the pests and rodents that plague the birdlife of New Zealand.

Enjoy a thrilling zipline ride with Canopy Tours | credit:

Photo credit:

4. Tamaki Maori Hangi Feast

If you leave without experiencing the Tamaki Maori Village then you’ve missed out on another of the top things to do in Rotorua. This glimpse into Maori culture is an authentic way to spend your evening from the Powhiri, the ancient welcome ceremony to the various presentations of pre-European life. Finish the evening with a delicious Maori hangi feast, cooked underground and accompanied by great music. It is a wonderful way to take in the Maori history of New Zealand and you’re encouraged to ask lots of questions about the crafts and skills you’ll learn about. 

Enjoy a traditional Maori hangi feast | credit: Adam Bryce

5. Huka Falls Jet boat

The powerful waters of Huka Falls lead into Lake Taupo, your base as you explore the Tongariro Region. Jet boating along the Waikato River towards the turquoise burst of water is a brilliant way to spend an hour - definitely the fastest and most exciting of the jet boats I experienced in New Zealand. You’ll spin and bounce along the river before racing up to the water, close enough to feel the spray from the falls and wave to the people who choose to simply experience from the bridge. Afterwards you can giggle at the photos of you getting sprayed with water that are snapped whilst you whirl through the river.

Experience the speed of the Huka Falls Jet boat

6. Napier Art Deco Walking Tour

Take a walk through history with this hour long tour of Napier’s Art Deco past. After the devastating earthquake of 1931, the town was rebuilt in the Art Deco Style with much of the architecture and planning based on the most popular designs of the day. The volunteer guides at the Napier Art Deco Trust are full of knowledge about the city’s past and will guide you through the pretty streets pointing out quirky features that you’d struggle to notice on your own. A must do tour if you’re planning on spending a day in Napier.

Explore the Art Deco treasures of Napier

7. Te Papa Museum, Wellington

Te Papa, the largest museum in New Zealand is a sight to behold, both inside and out. The exhibitions change constantly but the permanent collection offer fascinating insight into the history of the Maori, the volcanic geology of New Zealand and unique wildlife of the 3 islands, much of which is now extinct. I found the Polynesian discovery of New Zealand the most interesting section as it’s something I knew nothing about and the brilliant visuals in the museum make the topic so interesting. It’s a great place to spend the day, whether you’re a couple or family, or even to wander around on your own.

Te Papa, the largest museum in New Zealand is a sight to behold, both inside and out

8. Zealandia, Wellington

Do not miss out on a visit to ‘Zealandia’ – when I visited the weather was atrocious and it was still a highlight of my whole trip. Just 10 minutes from central Wellington this man-made habitat is completely free of the European pests and plants that have ravaged much of the native wildlife of New Zealand. Kiwis have been reintroduced here, as well as tuatara and saddlebacks.

The best way to experience this incredible project is in darkness, on the Zealandia by Night tour, where you’ll travel by torchlight through the ferns and trees on the lookout for the shy nocturnal creatures that lurk in their new found safe haven. It’s a magical place to visit and will truly make you appreciate the fragile nature of New Zealand and the steps the islanders are taking to protect it.

Zealandia is a man-made habitat for New Zealand's native wildlife

Interested in the best things to do in North Island New Zealand North Island?

We can help you plan all aspects of your New Zealand holiday, including flights, accommodation and tours. Our New Zealand experts know the country well, and help you decide where to visit and which tours to book, to make sure you don’t miss a thing! Have a look at our New Zealand holidays (inc flights) and New Zealand trip ideas (exc flights) for more ideas.

To start planning a trip to New Zealand, call our experts on 01273 320 580 or request a quote by email.

You might also like our top South Island New Zealand tours:

The views of the sparkling Lake Wanaka is nothing short of magnificent

New Zealand South Island tours: 8 of our favourites

Milly Gill

Product Manager
at Travel Nation

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