Northland, New Zealand is a subtropical haven of beaches, islands and bays. This is one of New Zealand’s top tourist locations filled with a wide variety of things to do including many excellent boating and water based activities along with ... Show More
Northland, New Zealand is a subtropical haven of beaches, islands and bays. This is one of New Zealand’s top tourist locations filled with a wide variety of things to do including many excellent boating and water based activities along with stunning land based attractions. Northland is also historically and culturally significant, being New Zealand’s first area of settlement. A top thing to do is to visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and there are many historical sites. The Northland Region stretches from Auckland to the very top of New Zealand making this area excellent for road trips with many attractions and activities along the way. It is a story of two coastlines with the iconic Bay of Islands as well as the Hokianga and the Kauri Coast, the Far North, and Whangarei. For cycling and mountain bike enthusiasts a fun thing to do is the Twin Coast Cycle Trail stretching from one coast to another and also a world class mountain bike park in Paihia. Northland has unique native rainforest and offer many walking and hiking activities. A main attraction is to encounter the magnificent Tane Mahuta, the biggest kauri tree in existence near the stunning Hokianga Harbour. Take a Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach Tour and journey past the huge sand dunes and pristine beaches of the Far North to experience the northernmost tip of the country, where you can watch the seas of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea collide. Visit the stunning Doubtless Bay and then the beautiful Bay of Islands with its 144 islands and bays. Swim with dolphins, dive, fish, sail or play golf, go on wine tours and visit New Zealand’s most significant historic sites while visiting Russell and Kerikeri, New Zealand's oldest settlements and buildings. Northland's only city, Whangarei is close to the beautiful Bream Bay and Mangawhai beaches further south, and Tutukaka with a world-class marine reserve for diving excellent surf beaches and fantastic outlying marlin fishing areas.
Best Attractions and things to do in Northland
1. Visit the Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands with its 144 islands and many beautiful bays and beaches is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful tourist attractions filled with activities and things to do. Take one of the many boat trips with water sports and activities on offer here and swim, snorkel kayak and or paddle-board, dive, fish, sail as your heart desires. Out to sea, you can enjoy fantastic outlying marlin fishing areas. Most trips leave from the main tourist town of Paihia or the quiet seaside town of Russell which is located opposite and a short ferry ride across the bay from Paihia. Filled with tourism activities there are plenty of things to do in the calm waters of the Bay of Islands. There are some fantastic day and half day trips on a variety of boats all offering different things to do. You can Discover the Bay on a larger tour boat with a stop at Otehei Bay to explore the island, swim at the sandy bay or enjoy a drink or lunch in the sun from a fully licensed café. Xtreme Jet Bay of Islands is the Bay of Islands newest and fastest thrill ride with speeds of up to 80km/h! A main attraction is the traditional Cream Trip which is great for history lovers or take an actual historical tall ship sailing adventure on the heritage ship R Tucker Thompson . There are also many wonderful yacht charters for an unforgettable adventure such as the Island Hopper Sailing Cruise and more to be found on these area pages.
2. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand’s Most Important Historic Site
See where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in the historic Treaty House at Waitangi. In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the Maori and Europeans which marked the beginning of New Zealand as a nation. Purchase an Experience Enjoy a full programme of tours and cultural performances. Explore the two new contemporary museums, Te Rau Aroha, Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, the carving studio, the Treaty House, Te Whare Rūnanga (Carved Meeting House), traditional Māori waka taua (war canoes). Visitors to Waitangi Treaty Grounds includes a guided tour (50 minutes), a Māori cultural performance (30 minutes), entry to the two museums, the Treaty House, the carved Meeting House, and grounds with the ceremonial war canoe. Waitangi by Night is available from December to March. Experience Waitangi like never before with after-hours museum access, a gourmet barbecue and games on the Treaty Grounds.
3. Bike the Twin Coast Cycle Trail
Stretching from the Bay of Islands on the east coast to the Hokianga Harbour in the west coast. The Twin Coast Cycle Trail (Pou Herenga Tai) is an amazing attraction in the stunning Far North that covers 87 kms from Opua to Horeke. You will see old historic settlements, coastal views, lush forests and fascinating cultural sights. You can hire a mountain bike or an e-bike and ride along a disused railway line that takes you along the longest curved wooden bridge in New Zealand, along broad walks through mangrove forests, stunning native bush and a working vintage steam railway in Kawakawa. Through tunnels and across bridges and beautiful New Zealand farmland. For extra things to do along the way visit the Pioneer Village where you can bike through an historic NZ village in Kaikohe. The scenery is amazing but this trail is also steeped in Maori and early European history. Following a smooth rail trail, cycle paths, wetland boardwalk, suspension bridges and country roads, it can be broken into smaller day trip activities with things to do and attractions right across the country while enjoying the sub-tropical climate for which the ‘winterless’ north is famous.
4. Experience Skydiving over the Bay of Islands
Northland is one of the best places to go skydiving! Jump out over the Bay of Islands in the Far North, the warmest part of New Zealand with a beautiful sub-tropical climate. The Bay of Islands Airport is located centrally in Kerikeri and the view from the air over the Bay of Islands is spectacular! Tandem Sky Diving is an awesome activity where you can safely skydive with an experienced instructor for a pure adrenaline rush, reaching speeds of up to 200 km per hour! Experiencing the thrill of free fall is something you’ll never forget and skydiving over the stunning Bay of Islands with its 144 Islands and viewing Northlands spectacular coastline from the air is an amazing thing to do in this area. Click here to book your Skydiving in the Bay of Islands experience and choose from 9,000 feet right up to 20,000 feet! This is a great activity for anyone looking for an adventure and incredible experience!
5. Take a Wine Tasting or Scenic tour with a local tour guide
Go for an adventure with one of the local wine tours or scenic tours and be looked after and shown around by one of the local Northland tour guides. There are several tour activities on offer visiting the many attractions Northland has on offer most leaving from Paihia. Visit Kerikeri which is known for its wine, horticulture and history or visit a Glow Worm Cave with incredible rock formations and lush green rain-forest or take a custom tour to the Hokianga or the Far North of New Zealand. There is a Craft Beer & Wine Tour visiting two top local vineyards, a local brewery and a chocolate factory! A Wine Tasting & Scenic Adventure tour which can include Wine Tasting, Lunch at a Vineyard, Historic Buildings, Haruru Falls, Art & Crafts, Chocolate Factory and Honey tastings., and There is also Wine and Beer Tasting & Lunch Adventures visiting three different local Kerikeri vineyards. Tastings can include wines, ports, liqueur, or ask about the Craft Beer Brewery or the local Cheese Factory.
6. Cruise to the Hole in the Rock, Bay of islands
The Hole in the Rock is one of the Bay of Islands most famous attractions! There are many different types of activities developed around viewing this stunning natural feature in the Bay of islands. The Hole in the Rock is located right out at the entrance to the Bay of Islands and you will usually see dolphins and marine wildlife attractions along the way and enjoy the stunning scenery. Take a boat cruise with the Cream Trip Day in the Bay where you can also view dolphins or boom net alongside the vessel and is also known as the most extensive historical cruise in the Bay of Islands. Discover the Bay comes with a nature guide on-board, or take a fast boat for a trilling Ocean Adventure and have the option of stopping at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka island on your way back for refreshments and a swim. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space in the ‘Hole in the Rock’. You can also visit the Hole in the Rock by helicopter which is a spectacular way to see the Bay of Islands from the air!
7. Day trip to Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach
Visit the Cape Reinga by bus tour for a fun stress-free activity with an experienced guide to tell you about the special history of this area. Cape Reinga is the very top of New Zealand and a great thing to do with the whole family often visiting the stunning 90 mile beach during low tide with its enormous sand dunes. The ultimate northern New Zealand experience where the two oceans collide! Right at the top of New Zealand walk the path to the Cape Reinga lighthouse located at the very top edge of NZ. This is an incredible attraction where you will hear the crashing of the two oceans the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean in a spectacular swirl of currents, take time to absorb the atmosphere of this place you can almost feel the power! The views are spellbinding, and if conditions are right, try out the unique and fun activity of sandboarding!
8. Dive Trips in the Bay of Islands and the Poor Knights Islands
Northland has beautiful clear and warmer waters compared to the rest of New Zealand so scuba diving and free diving are excellent things to do here even in mid-winter. The Bay of Islands, the Poor Knights and also the stunning Cavalli Islands are top dive locations for New Zealand filled with stunning reefs with prolific fish and plant life. There are two famous wreck diving attractions to do in the Northland region: the Rainbow Warrior Wreck Dive and the Canterbury Wreck Dive. Add the stunning reef dives at the Cavalli Islands and many beautiful dive sites in the Bay of Islands and this is a fantastic activity in the Far North of New Zealand! Off the Tutukaka coast is New Zealand’s stunning world-class marine reserve with some of the best subtropical diving in the world. The 11 million-year-old Islands’ volcanic origins provide myriad spectacular drop-offs, walls, caves, arches and tunnels all abundantly populated with the unique and incredibly varied plant, animal and fish life. If you don’t dive yet and have 4 days and want to try a whole new adventure activity, learn to dive with a PADI Open Water Course in one of New Zealand’s best diving locations.
9. Go Fishing!
Take one of the excellent and experienced fishing charter boats to catch Snapper or Kingfish in one of the best fishing locations in the world! Fish with calm seas in the bay of Islands, or further out you may encounter a huge array of sea and bird life which in itself is a major attraction and in turn attracts the game fish that we are so privileged to be able to catch in New Zealand. Big Game Fishing is a great activity in New Zealand with plentiful sport fish. An amazing thing to do in Northland where you just never know what can jump on your lure or bait including striped, black or blue marlin and other huge game fish. With a large amount of deep water reefs, Hapuka is another fish that is an excellent fishing activity to try in New Zealand. Local fishing charters offer local knowledge and the best opportunity to have an amazing day out catching fish. Days Out Fishing Charters and Wildblue Bay of Islands Fishing are both highly professional fishing guides – with all the local knowledge on where to catch fish!
10. Ride the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park
Take a day (or more) and come and enjoy the World-Class Waitangi Mountain Bike Park. Hire a bike and catch the shuttle for downhill thrills at the huge Waitangi bike park with trails for all abilities. The shuttle service runs on weekends and school holidays is a fun thing to do taking you back up to the top of the park leaving you with mostly downhill runs. The Waitangi Mountain Bike Park provides the perfect introduction to mountain biking with lots of easy, scenic trails that you can take at your own pace. It currently offers over 20 trails (50km) of varying difficulty with great flow and features, from introductory downhill riding, jump trails, cross country, beginner trails and loads of tracks for the experts too.
11. Parasailing in the Bay of Islands
Bay of Islands Parasail has New Zealand's highest parasailing activity at 1300ft over the stunning Bay of Islands. With specially designed boats for this amazing activity to make it safe and easy to catch the wind, a fun thing to do and incredible way to see the Bay of Islands from the air. Bay of Islands Parasail has 20 years of experience and a perfect safety record, take-off and landing is easy, fun and safe. Suitable for all ages as no physical restrictions. For extra fun in summer we can dip your toes into the water during your parasail, but there is no getting wet unless you want to! There are tandem and triple flights available all with insane views over the Bay of Islands.
12. Take a Night Tour to the stunning Waipoua Forest
Visit the oldest and largest Kauri trees in the world – at night! With a local Māori guide for an unforgettable encounter with another world. Experience the affinity that Māori have with the forest and the deep spiritual respect they have for these sentinels who have stood silently witnessing the passing of time. Your Footprints Waipoua guide will share thought-provoking information, humorous banter, stories and legends before respectfully greeting the oldest and largest known kauri trees in the world with spine-tingling chants and song. Witness the day transition to night and by default feel your senses become hauntingly enhanced. Just like these giant kauri trees the memories you seize are timeless treasures. You will be introduced to the oldest and largest known kauri trees in the world. As you enjoy the easy walking tracks that wind through an evergreen maze of unique flora you will enjoy intermittent stops to connect with thought provoking information, stories, song and much more. Located just out of Hokianga in the beautiful native Waipoua Forest.
13. Go Horse Trekking through beaches and farmland
Kates Riding Centre is a top tourist attraction in Kerikeri with lots of things to do including short horse riding treks, Beach treks, farm treks, trekking weekends, lessons and summer pony camps for the kids in the beautiful Bay of Islands of New Zealand. Kates Horse riding centre caters to all abilities so previous experience is not necessary as horses and ponies have been chosen for their lovely nature, taking adults and children for both group and private trek activities or horse riding lessons. The activities take place on a large specialty farm with facilities that include a 100 x 60 metre sand all weather arena, a 20 x 32 metre square covered arena, a 20 metre round pen and a 2 km exercise track set on 466 acres of rolling farmland all in a beautiful setting for horse riding in the Bay of Islands.
14. Take a Relaxing Sunset Cruise in the Bay of Islands
This is an excellent thing to do at the end of the day running out of Paihia in the Bay of Islands and before you adventure out again for dinner! The Sundowner Evening Sailing Cruise is an awesome activity you can squeeze into your day, an early evening cruise leaving from Paihia at 5.00pm and returning 7.00pm. The boat pulls right up to the beach where you can step aboard from the shore line. Sail the inner area of the Bay of Islands, making the most of the beautiful sea breeze on route to a fun swim destination and enjoy the beauty of our sheltered anchorage while sipping on a complimentary drink before sailing home on the sea breeze. A great start to a night out with friends and family, a romantic getaway, or just the perfect way to end the day! Watch the wind fill the sails, kick back and enjoy the tranquillity.