78 Things to Do on the North Island

jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (1)

New Zealand is my favourite country in the world! There's so much to see - from abandoned gold mines, beautiful coastlines, epic volcanoes and bursting geothermal activity. I've been living here for a year and a half now and have made it my mission to visit, do, hike, explore and adventure as much as possible.

I've gone through all my photos and blog posts to compile 78 things you should do on the North Island when you come to visit New Zealand.

Check out my list of 75 things to do on the South Island here!

74/78 of the things below are completely free, too! There's just 4 things on the list that cost money - but they're all worth it 😉

These are organized geographically, from Cape Reinga, the northenmost tip of the country, all the way down to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand at the southern tip of the North Island. Enjoy!

Visit the northenmost tip of the country at Cape Reinga

Where: Cape Reinga

Cost: free!

Details: Cape Reinga is the northenmost tip of New Zealand, 100km away from the closest town and really far from literally everything. Here, Pacific Ocean from the east meets the Tasman Sea of the west and you can actually see the line where the two bodies of water intersect. It's really cool to witness.

Read more: Visiting Cape Reinga

jana meerman cape reinga new zealand (1)

Go sand boarding at the Great Sand Dunes

Where: Cape Reinga

Cost: free if you have your own board other there's cheap rentals nearby

Details: The Great Sand Dunes of New Zealand are famous for literally being a massive pile of sand up near Cape Reinga that, if you so choose, you can descend on a sand board!

Read more: 4 Things to See in Northland

jana meerman great sand dunes new zealand

Feel the spray from Rainbow Falls

Where: Kerikeri

Cost: free!

Details: Rainbow Falls was impressive, thunderous and we got soaking wet with the spray that, when the light passes through, creates a rainbow (hence the name!). Highly recommend.

Read more: 4 Things to See in Northland

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Hike up to Tutukaka Lighthouse

Where: Whangārei

Cost: free!

Details: The Tutukaka Lighthouse Walkway is an easy walk with beautiful coastal views of Northland from the lighthouse at the top of Kukutauwhao Island. The lighthouse itself is not impressive; it's a modern one that is not photogenic in the slightest. It's okay though - the views are worth it!

Read more: Tutukaka Lighthouse Walkway hike

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Hike up to Kitekite Falls

Where: Piha

Cost: free!

Details: A lovely half hour walk up Kitekite Falls provides for lush surroundings, incredible views across the region, a massive waterfall and even swimming holes at both the top and bottom of the falls on warm days! We loved this hike.

Read more: Kitekite Falls hike

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Watch the sunset at Piha Beach

Where: Piha

Cost: free!

Details: Near to Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, Piha is a beautiful beach escape popular for it's beautiful black sandy beaches, wonderful surf-friendly waves and laid back vibe, great for a sunset.

Read more: Sunset at Piha Beach

jana meerman piha sunset (1)

Spot the Sky Tower

Where: Auckland

Cost: free + cost of going up the tower, if you wish to do so

Details: Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, is home to the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere, the Sky Tower. You can go up to the top and take in the views or you can spot it from all over the city.

Read more: Mount Eden hike

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Hike up to Mount Eden

Where: Auckland

Cost: free!

Details: In the heart of Auckland, a short little hike provides impressive views of the city. Mount Eden is an ancient volcano that last erupted 15,000 years ago. A crater was left at a whopping fifty metres deep; you'll walk the perimeter of the crater on the hike but cannot enter it as it is delicate landscape.

Read more: Mount Eden hike

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Explore Karangahake Gorge

Where: The Coromandel

Cost: free!

Details: Karangahake Gorge is an abandoned gold mine, which was as endearing as it sounds. The area is chokka full of old tunnels, walkways, ruined rail lines and abandoned buildings that the Department of Conservation now manages and has made available for exploring. A torch is a must for this track, otherwise you'll be plunged into darkness as you tiptoe down the tunnels.

Read more: Visiting Karangahake Gorge

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Dance around Opoutere Beach

Where: The Coromandel

Cost: free!

Details: This beautiful spot is a wildlife reserve and thus home to plenty of nature and birds. Sun streams through the beautiful pine trees and the beach is home to pure white sand and windswept dunes, and more likely than not you'll have the place to yourself.

Read more: Coromandel Peninsula roadtrip

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Summit Paku Hill

Where: The Coromandel

Cost: free!

Details: At the edge of the sleepy and gorgeous little coastal town of Tairua, Paku Hill, a 7 million-year-old extinct volcano, sits jutting out into the ocean. Drive most of the way up and then climb steadily up to the summit for the last twenty minutes to take in 360 degree views of the entire coastline.

Read more: Paku Hill Summit hike

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Dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach

Where: The Coromandel

Cost: free!

Details: Theoretically, if you come at the right time of day, you can dig your own hole on the beach here and enjoy warm water heated from the volcanic activity way down beneath the surface. We clearly did not come at the right time. At least the sun going down over the beach was stunning!

Read more: Coromandel Peninsula roadtrip

jana meerman hot water beach new zealand

Go stargazing at Cooks Beach

Where: The Coromandel

Cost: free!

Details: This tiny little town near Hahei emits very little light pollution, so when we made the decision to camp here for the night, we were treated to a most colourful sunset and then a spectacular evening of star-gazing where we tried our hand for the first time at astro-photography!

Read more: Stargazing at Cooks Beach

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Hang out at the top of Shakespeare's Cliff

Where: The Coromandel

Cost: free!

Details: At the end of Cooks Beach, a scenic drive up to Shakespeare Cliff gives beautiful coastal views. Worth stopping at if you're in the area for a lovely ocean panorama!

Read more: Coromandel Peninsula roadtrip

jana meerman shakespeare cliff coromandel

Explore the wondrous Cathedral Cove

Where: The Coromandel

Cost: free!

Details: This is one of the most well-known stops in the entire Coromandel and for good reason - it's most famous for being the filming location of Cair Paravel in Narnia. You'll be rewarded with stunning rock faces, pure white sand, lapping water in a sheltered cove and plenty of spots to get a bit of sun and take some beautiful photographs.

Read more: Visiting Cathedral Cove

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Go for a swing at Otama Beach

Where: The Coromandel

Cost: free!

Details: This white sandy beach has an awesome rope swing that looks out onto a massive expanse of ocean and sand; perfect for some beautiful photos and for a relaxing swing as the sun goes down!

Read more: Swinging at Otama Beach

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Go for a dip in Waiau Falls

Where: The Coromandel

Cost: free!

Details: On the way down from Coromandel town to Thames, there's a nice little add-on to do by taking the road up to Waiau Falls. Spot the pigs running amok on the road (drive safely!) before taking a short walk down to the pretty pool at Waiau Falls, perfect for a summer dip. Just a bit further on, there's a 1/2 hour walk through a grove of beautiful kauri trees.

Read more: Coromandel Peninsula roadtrip

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Try and spot dolphins in Ngarimu Bay

Where: The Coromandel

Cost: free!

Details: If you're lucky, on your drive, you may spot dolphins jumping just off the coast! They like to hang out in The Coromandel 🙂 Plus, Ngarimu Bay has a Little Free Library where you just might find a great read for your roadie.

Read more: Coromandel Peninsula roadtrip

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Hike up Mount Maunganui

Where: Tauranga

Cost: free!

Details: Not a lot of effort is required for this 30-40 minute trek up the summit via one of two different options for tracks but the views themselves are quite stunning. You'll be able to see the entirety of the suburb of Mount Maunganui, the coastal region of Tauranga and far out into the ocean and some of the islands dotting the coast.

Read more: Mount Maunganui hike

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Explore Moturiki Island

Where: Tauranga

Cost: free!

Details: Moturiki Island is just off Maunganui Beach, which is accessible by a natural sand bridge. From the island, you can have magnificent views straight out to the horizon as well as looking back on Mount Maunganui, too.

Read more: Mount Maunganui hike

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Visit Hobbiton!

Where: Matamata

Cost: $89 per adult, at the time of writing

Details: Ohhh, Hobbiton. The most iconic spot from Lord of the Rings. A place where fantasy blurs with reality and where wonder comes to life. A place where you can run through the Shire just like Bilbo did, yelling "I'm going on an adventure!" and where you really feel like maybe you are, too.

Read more: Visiting Hobbiton!

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Spot exploding mud near Wai-O-Tapu

Where: Rotorua

Cost: free!

Details: The bubbling mud pool at Wai-O-Tapu (the largest in the entire country!) was super weird but very impressive to witness. Blobs of boiling hot mud explode every few seconds and it reeks of rotten eggs. Definitely something to see while you're here!

Read more: 7 Free Things to Do in Rotorua

jana meerman mud pool rotorua

See the sulfuric lakes of Rainbow Mountain

Where: Rotorua

Cost: free!

Details: Just a few moments from the parking lot, you can spot two brightly coloured sulphuric lakes at the base of Rainbow Mountain. If you wish, you can also hike 3km up to the summit and take in the panoramic views of Rotorua.

Read more: 7 Free Things to Do in Rotorua

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Swim in natural hot springs at Kerosene Creek

Where: Rotorua

Cost: free!

Details: You can swim in a natural hot springs at Kerosene Creek, a pungent yet very warm and relaxing pool with a waterfall.

Read more: 7 Free Things to Do in Rotorua

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See the hot pools of Kuirau Park

Where: Rotorua

Cost: free!

Details: This large park in town is a great, free way to wander through some of the town's geysers and bubbling hot pools!

Read more: 7 Free Things to Do in Rotorua

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Wander through the Redwoods of Whakarewarewa Forest

Where: Rotorua

Cost: free!

Details: The massive trees growing straight up towards the sky made us feel tiny. There's four different tracks through the forest of varying lengths and difficulties, that provide spectacular views of the incredible trees and other growth.

Read more: Visiting The Redwoods of Rotorua

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See the crystal clear waters of Blue Spring Putaruru

Where: Rotorua

Cost: free!

Details: This crystal clear blue spring is just an 800m walk from the parking lot and provides visitors with a breathtaking glimpse of beautiful water. The water from this stream apparently provides 70% of all of New Zealand's bottled water! It's pretty pure after spending 50-100 years under water where it is naturally purified!

Read more: 7 Free Things to Do in Rotorua

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Hang out lakeside at Lake Rotorua

Where: Rotorua

Cost: free!

Details: The lake on which the town sits is a caldera, which means it was formed in a volcanic depression. It is not safe for swimming but it is beautiful! We hung out lakeside in Hamurana and enjoyed the peace and calm of the wharfs there.

Read more: 7 Free Things to Do in Rotorua

jana meerman hamurana lake rotorua

See the gushing Huka Falls

Where: Taupo

Cost: free!

Details: Huka Falls is an epic waterfall that gushes out of Lake Taupo via the Waikato River dropping 220,000 litres of pure blue water down an eleven metre drop each second!! The power you witness is quite surreal. There's some really nice viewpoints from both sides and from above the falls that offer varying perspectives of the natural phenomenon.

Read more: Visiting Huka Falls

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Watch the sunrise in Gisborne

Where: Gisborne

Cost: free!

Details: The closest city to the easternmost point of the country is Gisborne, where you can watch a wonderful sunrise on the beach. While it isn't exactly the first sunrise in the world (that comes a little later as you drive up to East Cape!), it's a pretty spectacular view all the same and well worth the chilly morning air!

Read more: Gisborne Peninsula roadtrip

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Visit the historic Tolaga Bay Wharf

Where: Tolaga Bay

Cost: free!

Details: Out in quaint Tolaga Bay, the longest wharf in New Zealand just out into the sea, 660 metres long. Opened in 1929 to allow large ships to load and offload goods, this wharf was a bustle of activity for 40 years. Now a valuable cultural and tourist spot, it's a gorgeous place from which to admire the Mitre Rocks.

Read more: Gisborne Peninsula roadtrip

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Hike the Cooks Cove Walkway

Where: Tolaga Bay

Cost: free!

Details: Just adjacent to the Tolaga Bay Wharf on the other side of Mitre Rocks, you can do a 2-3 hour lovely hike through private farmland (with plenty of friendly sheep!) to Cooks Cove. It was here that James Cook landed in 1769 with the HMS Endeavour on his circumnavigation of New Zealand. I can only imagine his jaw dropping as he approached this impressive peninsula!

Read more: Gisborne Peninsula roadtrip

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Spot Hole-in-the-Wall

Where: Tolaga Bay

Cost: free!

Details: On the hike down to Cooks Cove, you can find a crevice through Mitre Rocks that look out onto the ocean through an epic hole-in-the-wall. Artwork from Cooks crew has been memorialized here to show how it looked to the crew back in 1769.

Read more: Gisborne Peninsula roadtrip

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Visit the beach where Captain Cook landed

Where: Tokomaru Bay

Cost: free!

Details: Just before arriving in Tolaga Bay and the now-named Cooks Cove, James Cook arrived in Tokomaru Bay where he and his crew were greeted by the local Māori. A plaque commemorates the event, which occured on Oct 21, 1769. The beach itself is quite spectacular and wide in scope.

Read more: Gisborne Peninsula roadtrip

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Watch the first sunrise in the world!

Where: East Cape

Cost: free!

Details: East Cape is the easternmost tip of land in New Zealand, home to the easternmost lighthouse in the whole world. From the top of 800 steps which you'll need to climb early in the morning, you can be the first person on the planet to watch the sun come up on the day! It's a pretty special experience.

Read more: First sunrise in the world at East Cape

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Enjoy the viewpoints of the Bay of Plenty

Where: Bay of Plenty

Cost: free!

Details: From the East Cape, the drive is quite stunning all the way down the Bay of Plenty coast. There weren't many designated view points - perhaps because there aren't many tourists driving these roads. We did however enjoy some pull outs between Waihau Bay to Te Kaha and Haopoto!

Read more: Gisborne Peninsula roadtrip

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Visit New Zealand's very own Hawai!

Where: Hawai

Cost: free!

Details: No need to go all the way to Hawaii for this one! New Zealand has its very own Hawai situated on the coast with gorgeous mountains and a beautiful beach to hang out on.

Read more: Gisborne Peninsula roadtrip

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Watch the sunset at Waiotahe Beach

Where: Opotiki

Cost: free!

Details: Make sure to catch the sun going down behind the horizon at Waiotahe Beach, a beautiful beach perfect for running around on and enjoying.

Read more: Gisborne Peninsula roadtrip

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Hang out on Opoutama Beach

Where: Opoutama

Cost: free!

Details: Heading up towards the northern part of Hawke's Bay, you'll find the tiny town of Opoutama and a stunning sheltered little beach.

Read more: Hawke's Bay roadtrip

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Grab a book and read on the beach at Waipatiki

Where: Waipatiki

Cost: free!

Details: Drive along the beautiful coastline to the tiny little hamlet of Waipatiki. This is a small and cozy beachfront town with no service and a free library for all your reading desires. Hanging out on the beach with a book sounds pretty idyllic to me!

Read more: Hawke's Bay roadtrip

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Go shopping in the awesome shops of Napier

Where: Napier

Cost: that depends on you!

Details: Napier is a bustling art deco centre. We enjoyed a couple days here wandering fantastic shops such as secondhand bookstores, jewellery shops, home decor havens, antique centres and more.

Read more: 5 awesome shops to visit in Napier

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Drive up to Te Mata Peak

Where: Napier

Cost: free!

Details: Near Cape Kidnapper's, make sure you drive (or hike!) up to the top of Te Mata Peak to take in 360 degree views of the Napier region.

Read more: Hawke's Bay roadtrip

jana meerman te mata peak napier

Hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Where: Tongariro National Park

Cost: free!

Details: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing passes incredible alpine meadows, traverses a few craters of varying colours, slides down a steep volcano, bursts into steam at varying points and meanders around sulpher-smelling-emerald-coloured lakes. Mount Ngauruhoe on the trail is perhaps most well-known for being the filming location of Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Read more: Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike

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Visit Tawhai Falls / Gollum's Pool

Where: Tongariro National Park

Cost: free!

Details: A brief walk to Tawhai Falls brings you to where yet another famous Lord of the Rings scene was filmed: Gollum's Pool, where he fishes and sings!! The walk to the falls is less than ten minutes and the falls are really quite spectacular.

Read more: Visiting Tawhai Falls / Gollum's Pool

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Hike to Taranaki Falls

Where: Tongariro National Park

Cost: free!

Details: The Tongariro Northern Circuit is a three-day loop hike that circles around the national park visiting some of the most incredible viewpoints along the way. An awesome day trek is the 6.2km loop that brings hikers from the Whakapapa Village to Taranaki Falls, a gorgeous waterfall that seems to burst out of the cliff face.

Read more: Taranaki Falls hike

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Watch sunset at Stormy Point Lookout

Where: near Tongariro National Park

Cost: free!

Details: As you leave or arrive to Tongariro, I highly recommend stopping at Stormy Point Lookout for an incredible sunset over both Mount Taranaki and Tongariro National Park!

Read more: Tongariro National Park

jana meerman stormy point lookout mount taranaki

Drive the Forgotten World Highway

Where: Whangamamona

Cost: free!

Details: The Forgotten World Highway is one of New Zealand's well-known drives that traverses 148km as State Highway 43 from Stratford to Taumarunui. It offers beautiful views as the road passes various saddles, goes through a tunnel or two, stops at some funky little towns and meanders through a gorge along the only unpaved section of New Zealand's state highways!

Read more: Forgotten World Highway roadtrip

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Visit the Republic of Whangamamona

Where: Whangamamona

Cost: free!

Details: This place declared itself a republic in 1989 (and even offers passports!) and is now most famous for its Presidential elections which has, in the past, been won by a goat!

Read more: Forgotten World Highway roadtrip

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Spot Mount Taranaki

Where: Egmont National Park

Cost: free!

Details: There's a number of roads that lead into Egmont National Park offering different views of Mount Taranaki from various visitor centres and trails that are dotted around the park. We drove up Manaia Road.

Read more: Egmont National Park

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Hike down to Dawson Falls

Where: Egmont National Park

Cost: free!

Details: There's some beautiful things to do in Egmont National Park - one of the ones we loved was Dawson Falls. It's not massive, but it's surrounded by lush vegetation and we greatly enjoyed the walk through the forest.

Read more: Egmont National Park

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Complete the Pouakai Tarns track

Where: Egmont National Park

Cost: free!

Details: The hike itself was actually awesome - mostly boardwalked and beautiful in the sunlight when it filters through the trees, but we were underwhelmed unfortunately by the tarn itself at the top. Pictures are deceiving, the tarn is tiny! It does do well on a sunny day when you might be lucky to catch a reflection of Mount Taranaki.

Read more: Pouakai Tarns hike

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Explore the tunnels and caves of Three Sisters

Where: New Plymouth

Cost: free!

Details: This was our favourite spot in the entire Taranaki region - an incredible beach chokka full of caves, tunnels, rock formations, black sand and ponds to explore. Magic!

Read more: Egmont National Park

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Walk around Lake Mangamahoe

Where: New Plymouth

Cost: free!

Details: We arrived to a misty morning and were greeted with a damp forest walk which was surprisingly pleasant. There's a decent little viewpoint just around the lake on the circuit track which takes about 1-2 hours to complete in its entirety.

Read more: Egmont National Park

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Watch the sunset at Castle Rock

Where: Castle Point

Cost: free!

Details: The view from the beach at Castle Point just as the sun is setting gives an an incredible pastel pink sunset framing the majestic Castle Rock in a delightful evening glow.

Read more: Wellington to Castle Point roadtrip

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Watch the sunrise at Castle Point Lighthouse

Where: Castle Point

Cost: free!

Details: We climbed up the path to Castle Point Lighthouse in time for sunrise, a magical and peaceful moment soaking in the beauty of the new day. New Zealand is the first country in the world to see the sunrise; we think that's pretty special!

Read more: Wellington to Castle Point roadtrip

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Hike up to Rocky Lookout

Where: Tararua Forest Park

Cost: free!

Details: Tararua Forest Park is a popular camping and hiking spot. We went for a hike to stretch our legs, winding our way up to the Rocky Lookout with views over Mount Holdsworth and the surrounding mountains. It was refreshing and felt so incredibly vast.

Read more: Wellington to Castle Point roadtrip

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Complete the Kiriwhaka Papa Loop

Where: Tararua Forest Park

Cost: free!

Details: We spent a delightful afternoon on the Kiriwhakapapa Loop (say that ten times fast!) underneath the redwoods growing tall and majestic. The loop trail is flat and easy to enjoy, with a slight elevation in one section. The trail connects with the longer Blue Range track.

Read more: Kiriwhakapapa Loop hike

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Visit Waiohine Gorge

Where: Tararua Forest Park

Cost: free!

Details: Waiohine Gorge is known for its long-reaching and narrow swing bridge that hangs over the gorge, swinging lazily in the breeze - not for the faint of heart! From high up, you can spot waterfalls and beautiful trees from high up in the air. The swing bridge is just a few minutes walk from the car park which is at the end of a winding gravel road.

Read more: Visiting Waiohine Gorge

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Explore the winery town of Martinborough

Where: Martinborough

Cost: free!

Details: Martinborough is a lovely little town in the heart of the wine region, Wairarapa. The town is filled with delight - a sweet shoppe lined floor to ceiling with jars of candy, little boutique clothing shops, plenty of cafes and brunch spots, a hole-in-the-wall ice cream store with massive scoops, a huge park in the heart of town in which to lounge with a picnic, a quaint hotel with a bustling patio... there seems to be no end of lovely things to explore here.

Read more: A day in Martinborough

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Hike the Paekakariki Escarpment Track

Where: Paekakariki

Cost: free!

Details: The Paekakariki Escarpment Track trail wanders along the coast to Pukerua Bay along thin, crumbling paths high above State Highway 1 and the railway while the ocean breeze cools your perspiring brow.

Read more: Paekakariki Escarpment Track hike

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Visit Te Papa Museum

Where: Wellington

Cost: free!

Details: I went to Te Papa many times while I lived in Wellington - this free museum, the main one in all of New Zealand, is absolutely excellent. With five floors of exhibits (plus a few paid ones) you can discover the incredible history of Aotearoa with particular interest focused on the native species of the country and the many that have gone extinct. I also thoroughly enjoyed the art installations that were on each time.

Read more: A guide to Wellington

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Spot the infamous Cable Car

Where: Wellington

Cost: $5 per adult one-way or $9 return

Details: A tourist favourite is to hop on New Zealand's only operating cable car for a quick ride up to the top of the Botanic Garden. I recommend riding one-way up and meandering back down through the Botanic Garden to return to town!

Read more: A guide to Wellington

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Explore the botanical gardens

Where: Wellington

Cost: free!

Details: A tourist favourite is to hop on New Zealand's only operating cable car for a quick ride up to the top of the Botanic Garden. I recommend riding one-way up and meandering back down through the Botanic Garden to return to town!

Read more: A guide to Wellington

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Hike up to Mount Victoria

Where: Wellington

Cost: free!

Details: Just outside the business district, the hike up Mount Victoria climbs 196m in about 25-30 minutes. You can also drive to the top to take in the 360 degree panoramic views overlooking the international airport, the harbour and the bustling city below.

Read more: Mount Victoria hike

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Find the Hobbit's Hideaway

Where: Wellington

Cost: free!

Details: On your way up Mount Victoria, I highly recommend following Google Maps to also locate the filming location of the Hobbit's Hideaway where the hobbits hid from the Ringwraiths in Lord of the Rings!

Read more: Mount Victoria hike

jana meerman hobbit's hideaway mount victoria wellington

Visit the Beehive

Where: Wellington

Cost: free!

Details: The Beehive is home to the Executive Wing of New Zealand Parliament, so named for its sweet shape as beehive. There's plenty of pretty architectural corners to take photos of here, plus you can go for a free guided tour daily on the hour between 10am-4pm.

Read more: A guide to Wellington

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Hike up to the Brooklyn Army Bunkers

Where: Wellington

Cost: free!

Details: For a great walk out of town, head up to the Brooklyn Army Bunkers with panoramic views over Wellington's CBD. They were constructed in 1885 for the Crimean War and in response to the growing Russian pacific fleet.

Read more: A guide to Wellington

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Spot the Brooklyn Wind Turbine

Where: Wellington

Cost: free!

Details: Up near Zealandia, you can visit the oldest operating wind turbine in New Zealand! It's a great hike out from town accessed from Vivian Street then through Central Park that took us about an hour each way resulting in fabulous views all over Wellington.

Read more: A guide to Wellington

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Hang out on the beach in Oriental Bay

Where: Wellington

Cost: free!

Details: This is a great little beachfront harbour spot with lively restaurants and shops and fabulous ice-cream trucks. It's great for a wander on a sunny afternoon.

Read more: A guide to Wellington

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Explore the Red Rocks Reserve

Where: Wellington

Cost: free!

Details: On the coast south of Wellington facing the South Island, you'll find an incredible reserve home to an abundant seal colony and gorgeous red rocks plus plenty of beautiful scenery. Spend a sunny day here wandering the coastline - but watch out for the Wellington wind!

Read more: Red Rocks Reserve hike

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Hang out at the Wellington waterfront

Where: Wellington

Cost: free!

Details: You truly can't beat Welly on a good day and this is personified no where better than the waterfront and wharfs. Situated on a bustling port, there's plenty of restaurants, food trucks, buskers with their live music in all forms, underground markets and sunshine to be enjoyed.

Read more: A guide to Wellington

jana meerman wellington wharf

Spend the day on Matiu/Somes Island

Where: Wellington

Cost: $25 per person

Details: Sitting out in the middle of the bay just off the coast of Wellington, you'll find an eco-sanctuary dedicated to the conservation and preservation of native animals. We spent a simply lovely day wandering the secluded trails, exploring abandoned buildings - including a maximum security animal quarantine facility, basking in the sunshine and listening to the sounds of the birds.

Read more: A guide to Matiu/Somes Island

jana meerman matiu somes island wellington

Hike up to Mount Kaukau

Where: Wellington

Cost: free!

Details: If it's glorious 360 views across the Skyline, the South Island, the Eastern Harbour and Wellington that you're after, then Mount Kaukau is the one to do! Mount Kaukau is not a difficult hike, although there are some steeper sections. Much of the Northern Walkway, one of the ways to access the summit, is made of stairs and dirt paths. It's perfect for working up a nice sweat with an incredibly rewarding view at the top!

Read more: Mount Kaukau hike

jana meerman mount kaukau (3)

Find the waterfalls of Percy Scenic Reserve

Where: Lower Hutt

Cost: free!

Details: Located in Lower Hutt, the beautiful little Percy Scenic Reserve is home to a pond full of ducks, plenty of walking trails and a lovely waterfall in an oasis of greenery.

Read more: A guide to Wellington

jana meerman percy scenic reserve (2)

Visit the seals of Cape Palliser

Where: Cape Palliser

Cost: free!

Details: On the way to the famous Cape Palliser lighthouse, stop at one of the many viewpoints along the way to see if you can spot seals!

Read more: Wellington to Castle Point roadtrip

jana meerman cape palliser (10)

Climb the steps to Cape Palliser Lighthouse

Where: Cape Palliser

Cost: free!

Details: The red and white striped Cape Palliser Lighthouse stands proudly up a very steep set of wooden stairs perched into the cliff edge. It's totally worth the view!

Read more: Putangirua Pinnacles & Cape Palliser hike

jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (2)

Hike the Putangirua Pinnacles

Where: Cape Palliser

Cost: free!

Details: The scene of the Path of the Dead from Lord of the Rings was filmed here so naturally it's a draw for avid photographers and lovers of the series. It's an incredible beautiful and unique walk that takes about 45 minutes each way from the car park. We wandered in awe beneath the massive rocks.

Read more: Putangirua Pinnacles & Cape Palliser hike and Wellington to Castle Point roadtrip

jana meerman putangirua pinnacles wairarapa (7)

Take the ferry from the North Island to the South Island

Where: Wellington to Picton

Cost: check Bluebridge or Interislander websites for current prices

Details: The two islands of New Zealand are connected by a 3 1/2 hour ferry crossing through gorgeous sounds and incredible scenery. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

Read more: A guide to Wellington

jana meerman picton to wellington interislander ferry (2)
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