Top 10 Free Activities To Do On The North Island of New Zealand

There is plenty of adventure on the North Island of New Zealand. From black sand beaches to volcanos and sand dunes, adventurers will want to book their flights to New Zealand after reading about these 10 fantastic free activities in New Zealand.

1. Visit the Largest Kauri Trees in New Zealand

Located in the Waipoua Forest on the West Coast just north of Dargaville lies the amazing creations of mother nature, Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere. Tane Mahuta is the largest kauri tree in New Zealand and its name stands for ‘Lord of the Forest’ and for good reason! It is nearly 4.5 meters in diameter and about 18 meters until the first branch. It is incredibly huge! There is a little walking track by this tree that will lead you from one perspective to another. The second one is my favorite, you really get a look at how massive the tree actually is.

Tip: Te Matua Ngahere, meaning ‘Father of the Forest’ is the second largest Kauri tree. Sadly it is dying, so be sure to visit this tree before it is gone!

2. Get Your Dose of Vitamin Sea at Muriwai Beach

This beautiful black sand beach is located about an hour’s drive away from the city center of Auckland. It is just a short walk up to the viewing platform of the gannet bird colony from the car park. Each year from August until March, you are able to view about a thousand of these birds flocking together in this stunning spot. Besides the birds and views presented here, this black sand beach is well known to many locals as a great spot to surf. The best time to view this area is at sunrise. It’s absolutely magical to see all the colors mix so perfectly with the sea! If you plan on visiting here, make a day of it and enjoy all of the area and activities.

3. Sandboard in the Dunes of Cape Regina

Located at the Northernmost tip of the Aupouri Peninsula is Cape Regina and just south of here you will find natural sand dunes which is open for anyone to ride on. They are named the Te Paki Stream sand dunes. All you need to bring is something hard like a boogie board, a sled, a piece of ply wood etc. so that you can ride down these dunes and enjoy all the fun!

4. Walk to the Cape Regina Lighthouse

Found about a 7 minute walk from the car park is this beautiful white lighthouse with the most breathtaking views around it! The lighthouse itself is not open for public viewing, but you are able to explore the exterior and the magnificent views around it. Two powerful oceans merge together at this lighthouse. The Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean. This iconic wooden lighthouse will be the first sign of light that ships will see when arriving from the North Pacific Ocean or the Tasman Sea.

Related: Top 10 Attractions in Sydney, Australia

5. Explore the Caves in Waipu

Get off the beaten track and into a place where many tourist’s don’t go, Waipu glow worm caves! Waitomo caves are the popular glow worm tourist attraction in the North Island but with Waipu caves there is no need to pay for a tour, because you are your own tour guide here! They are situated among the gravel roads in the northland region close to the small town of Ruakaka.

Tip: If you are going to explore the caves, be sure to bring some form of light. Also, remember which way you walk in because there are no signs or tour guides to help you find your way out.

6. Climb Mount Eden and Wellington in Auckland

These are two of the many volcanic peaks that you will find in the Auckland Region. Mount Eden or Maungauwha is the natural highest point in Auckland. Mount Wellington or Maungarei is among one of the youngest peaks being formed around 10,000 years ago. They are awesome places to explore with beautiful views that over look the city! The best time to hike to the summit of these places would be for sunrise or sunset.

7. Explore Piha Beach, One of New Zealand’s Famous Black Beaches

Found in the Waiheke Ranges of the North Island this beautiful black sand beach is something that you do not want to miss out on while you are on the North Island! You will find tons of walks to do around this area and this beach has a stunning massive rock, Lions Rock, placed right in the middle of the beach. You can climb to the top of the rock and have the most amazing views above of Piha and the Beach. Don’t worry – there’s a path!

8. Explore Landscapes & Culture in Rotorua

This is one very smelly but amazing place to explore on the North Island. Once you get over the smell of rotten eggs you can appreciate the beauty that this geothermic active landmass beholds. Discover the mess of mud pools on your own or walk to kerosene creek, a natural hot spring surrounded by a beautiful waterfall.

Tip: Take in the Maori culture for free at the Maori Village Ohinemutu, situated on the Rotoura Lake. Unlike other tourist-driven Maori Villages here, you can enjoy savings and less crowds if you just know where to go.


9. Visit the Magical Turquoise Wonder, Lake Taupo

This breathtaking lake is situated right in the caludron shaped dip created by the Taupo Volcano magma back in history. This lake has the largest surface area in New Zealand around 616 square kilometers! There are many other great activities in this area in addition to observing the amazing lake, including taking part in one of the ten great nature hikes. One is the Great Tangario Alpine crossing which is one of the ‘Great 9 Walks‘ in New Zealand and provides stunning views of this lake.

Other activities here:

  • Huku Falls, a powerful waterfall that drains off from Lake Taupo and can be crossed with a footbridge
  • Spa Park Taupo, natural hot springs that are free for public access
  • Hike up to Mount Ruaphue, an active volcano with the perfect place to watch the sun go down

10. Relax at Hot Water Beach

Really dive into the sand and salt by scooping out your very own natural hot pool on the beach! The best time to visit this beach is either two hours before or after low tide. This beach is usually deserted but at these times many visitors flock together to dig their own pools to relax in. This truly is a unique experience and is famous in New Zealand for a reason! You can find this little gem in the Coromandel bay area on the East Coast of the North Island.

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