Family friendly activities in the North Island

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There's fun for the whole family no matter where you are in the North Island.

Planning a trip through the North Island? Add some or all of these to your family holiday itinerary!


A must-do in the Bay of Islands is a dolphin tour, cruising through the remarkable ‘Hole in the Rock’. Further north, the pristine paradise of Ninety Mile Beach is known for beautiful sunsets, swimming and sandboarding (bodyboarding down the dunes). Travel on to Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island; this represents the tip of the country where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. This is a sacred site for Maori, with its ancient pohutukawa tree and the now-iconic lighthouse.


Urban Auckland is New Zealand’s most cosmopolitan hub. City tours include some of the very best sights, such as Mt Eden, Auckland Domain, Mission Bay, the Wintergardens, the Sky Tower, the quaint village of Parnell or upmarket Ponsonby.

MOTAT and Auckland Zoo provide a change of pace, and there is no shortage of beautiful beaches and parks that make the perfect setting for a quick picnic.

Central North Island

The heart of the North Island is packed with all-ages attractions. Start with Hobbiton, which you’ll instantly recognise from the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies.  As you amble through the heart of the Shire, you'll hear the fascinating commentary about how it all came to life.

At Hot Water Beach, take some spades along at low tide (or rent some when you get there) and dig a naturally heated pool in the sand. (Get there early and stake out your territory before everyone else.)

Then make your way down to Rotorua.  Be introduced to Maori culture at Te Puia and watch the Pohutu Geyser erupt up to 20 times a day to heights of 30 metres. Further along the lakeside you’ll find Hell’s Gate, with the largest hot waterfall and only geothermal mud baths in New Zealand. For a change of pace, head around to the Agrodome to rub noses with some cuddly farm creatures and pair that with a lively round of Zorbing – rolling down a hill in a giant transparent ball.


When in Wellington, you’ve got to make the most of the vibrant arts and culture scene. The capital is home to our national museum, Te Papa, with exhibits to keep you engrossed for hours, and there are numerous other galleries and museums around the city.

Interested in wildlife? You can’t go past Zealandia, which houses some of New Zealand's rarest wildlife including kiwi and tuatara. There’s also Wellington Zoo - New Zealand's oldest zoological park – and Kapiti Island Nature Reserve on an island off the coast.

Be sure to fit in a trip up the historic cable car from downtown to the Botanic Garden, too – the views are the top are magnificent, but the ride is half the fun. 

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