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North Island

National Parks

Our most recommended North Island National Parks

Waitomo: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour by Boat

1. Waitomo: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour by Boat

Discover New Zealand's natural wonder of Waitomo Glowworm Caves on a guided boat trip. Glide by boat through this underground complex, watching millions of tiny bioluminescent insects lighting up the rocky limestone. Explore this cave complex, including a chance to visit the Cathedral Cave on foot. The caves were formed over 30 million years ago and comprise 2 levels. The upper level is dry and includes the entrance to the cave and formations known as the Catacombs, the Pipe Organ, and the Banquet Chamber. On the lower level are stream passages and the Cathedral. Begin on foot as your local guide brings the caves to life with stories about their history. Then, board a boat and marvel at the light display as you glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto.

Lake Taupo: Maori Rock Carvings 1.5-Hour Scenic Cruise

2. Lake Taupo: Maori Rock Carvings 1.5-Hour Scenic Cruise

Cruise through the crystal-clear, turquoise waters of Lake Taupo, taking in the vibrancy of Maori culture all the while. After boarding your cruise, explore the stunning surroundings of the lake, surrounded by rugged mountains and lush trees on the banks. As you glide through the lake on your deluxe Catamaran, you’ll come to a massive carving depicting the traditional facial tattooing of the Maori people. Inspired by centuries of rich Maori tradition, artist Matahi Brightwell carved the elaborate relief into the side of a cliff directly above the lake’s pristine waters in 1980. Depicting one of his grandmother’s ancestors, the carving represent a triumph of Maori artistry, and the continued preservation of indigenous culture. Perfect for the whole family, after taking in the carving, you can feed the ducks, and maybe even catch a fish. After 1.5 hours, you’ll head back to the dock to disembark.

Lake Taupo: 1.5-Hour Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise

3. Lake Taupo: 1.5-Hour Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise

Admire beautiful Māori rock carvings set against a stunning mountainous backdrop on a 1.5-hour journey around Lake Taupo's waters aboard a boat that features live audio commentary. Relax and enjoy coffee or tea and a homemade muffin as you admire panoramic views of New Zealand, picturesque mountain tops, and historic rock carvings inspired by centuries of rich Māori tradition and art. Explore the open decks that allow you to feel the cool outdoor breeze or cozily snuggle into one of the indoor booths, and enjoy a trout fishing demonstration by the crew — you may even get a "taste of Taupo" if all goes well.

Auckland: Hobbiton, Rotorua and Wai-O-Tapu Day Tour

4. Auckland: Hobbiton, Rotorua and Wai-O-Tapu Day Tour

The tour starts with pickup from Auckland city, where the adventure begins as you drive through the stunning Waikato countryside, the most extensive farming area in the world, on a fully guided journey to Hobbiton. Along the way, don’t forget to take advantage of the photo opportunities as you admire the stunning natural landscapes all around of beautiful mountains and farmlands. After the drive, arrive at Alexander Family Sheep Farm and Shire's Rest, the entrance to Hobbiton, and marvel at the thousands of sheep that live here. While you’re here, grab a bite to eat, a coffee, or enjoy an ice cream to cool off while your guide collects your tickets to the movie set. Next, hop on board one of the big green Hobbiton buses to depart on your two hour fully guided tour of this amazing 12-acre movie set with a professional Hobbiton guide to ensure you get the most out of your visit. During your tour trip into the lush pastures of the Shire, visit 44 hobbit holes, see amazing gardens, hear secrets and stories about the making of the movies and finish your LOTR experience with a cold beverage at the famous Hobbiton pub, The Green Dragon Inn. After your LOTR experience, it’s time to continue southwards towards the active geothermal area of Rotorua. During the drive, pass through the unique town of Tirau, the corrugated iron sculpture capital of the world, and the stunning Fitzgerald Glade. Upon arrival in Rotorua, enjoy a guided tour of the city’s most famous and historical sites including Lake Rotorua, The Government Gardens, the Blue Baths, Thermal Springs and Polynesian Spa. Take some time to rest for lunch and then head to Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland considered one of the most surreal places on earth. Here, admire the Champagne Lake, Devil’s Bath, local mud-pools, geothermal craters and other geothermal wonders before a fully guided trip back to Auckland and the end of your tour.

Lake Taupo: 1.5-Hour Maori Rock Carvings 5:00 PM Cruise

5. Lake Taupo: 1.5-Hour Maori Rock Carvings 5:00 PM Cruise

Enjoy a summer evening cruising on Lake Taupo. Chris Jolly has been entertaining guests for 40 years, and his tour to the Maori Rock Carvings is known worldwide. Recently restored, these rock carvings were created in the 1980s and still tower above the water, truly a sight to behold.  With family friendly activities on board and split level comfort, this tour is a must for those visiting the region. Enjoy the full bar as you cruise around the Lake Taupo bays, learning onboard from the live commentary. With views of Tongariro National Park and spectacular scenery, this is one evening to be enjoyed by all.

Rotorua: Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves Full-Day Trip

6. Rotorua: Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves Full-Day Trip

After being picked up from your hotel in Rotorua, enjoy a pleasurable and scenic drive through the New Zealand countryside and learn about the region from your professional local driver/ guide. Travel in the comfort of your modern and fully air-conditioned vehicle. Set off on a journey of discovery at the infamous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Sit back and relax as you take a magical boat ride beneath thousands of glowworms. Discover more about the 120 years of cultural and natural history on this fully guided tour and marvel at this mesmerizing natural light display as you silently glide through the wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto.  Continuing your fantastical journey, step into Hobbiton, where an official guide will show you around this breathtaking and impressive movie set. Wander into Hobbit holes, including Bilbo and Frodo's home, and take a turn around their vegetable patches with giant pumpkins! At the end of the tour, be transported to Middle Earth as you enjoy a complimentary drink in the Green Dragon Inn. If you're looking to experience some of New Zealand's top attractions, or are an avid Lord of the Rings fan, then this is a truly unmissable and unforgettable experience! 

Whitianga: Sailing Trip to Great Mercury Island with Lunch

7. Whitianga: Sailing Trip to Great Mercury Island with Lunch

Meet your friendly captain at Whitianga Wharf and board the impressive 63 ft Windborne. The boat, which has been sailing the oceans of the world since 1928 was lovingly rebuilt in 1981 and is bursting with character, charm, strength, and comfort. Once aboard, set sail onto the glistening waters that surround Whitianga and begin the 15 nautical mile journey towards Great Mercury Island, one of the prettiest places on earth. Anchor at Peach Grove and cool off from the heat with a refreshing dip in the crystal clear water. Swim ashore, or catch a ride in the dinghy boat then feel the sand beneath your toes as you stroll along the flawless beach. While at the beach, you can also make use of the boat's snorkel gear and paddle boards. Later, wander through the bush to find a stunning waterfall where you can relax in the freshwater pool. Whatever you choose to do on the island, native parrots are abundant and sure to keep you company. Once you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite, dine on a delicious lunch of homemade salads, cheese, chutneys, and more onboard the schooner. After lunch, set sail again back towards the mainland and allow the fresh sea breeze to immerse you in the beauty of nature. Snack on tasty nibbles as you lookout for dolphins, orcas, and whales and admire the rock formations and volcanic plaques of Flat Island along the way.

Taupo: Mt Ruapehu Volcanic Vista Flight

8. Taupo: Mt Ruapehu Volcanic Vista Flight

Set off on a thrilling journey through the natural wonders of New Zealand with a 1-hour seaplane flight. Departing from a jetty in Taupo bay, you’ll take off and head south, beginning your volcanic sightseeing with Mount Pihanga, before soaring over the Blue and Emerald Lakes towards the massive summit of Mount Ruapehu, towering nearly 10,000 feet above sea level.  Circling the summit, you’ll view the Crater Lake, tapering down to the volcano’s broad ski slopes. Turning northward, you’ll fly towards Mount Ngauruhoe, with the opportunity to gaze down into its immense center. Continuing onward, soar over Mount Tongariro, viewing the Red Crater, the Blue Lake, and ancient lava flows, before beginning your descent over Lake Taupo to land along the lakefront.

Tongariro National Park: Guided Walk Mt Ruapehu Crater Lake

9. Tongariro National Park: Guided Walk Mt Ruapehu Crater Lake

Go on an adventure and embark on a full-day guided walk to Ruapehu. Admire Mt. Ruapehu that is the highest (2797m) of the three active andesitic volcanoes in the Tongariro National Park. The last eruption on Mt. Ruapehu was in 2007.  Join the group for lunch on top of the North Island highest volcano from where you can gaze down into the geothermal waters of the crater lake. Please note that this is not a track and is less stable walking than on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Start your walk at the Whakapapa Ski area at the top of the Bruce Road on Mt. Ruapehu, there may be an option of taking a chairlift up to Knoll Ridge cafe. This option will depend on the group on the day and if the chairlifts are operating. The lifts close at 4:00 PM daily, should conditions worsen during the day the lifts may have to be closed earlier. Enjoy personable, friendly, and qualified guides that provide instruction, transport, equipment, and gear hire.

Auckland: Coromandel, Cathedral Cove & Hot Water Beach Tour

10. Auckland: Coromandel, Cathedral Cove & Hot Water Beach Tour

Begin the tour with a pick-up from your hotel in a comfortable minibus equipped with WiFi, charging ports, and onscreen entertainment. Be taken on a scenic drive through the New Zealand countryside as you head to the incredible Coromandel Peninsula. Head to your first stop, Cathedral Cove, a spot featured in the film the Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Cathedral Cove is one of New Zealand's most famous and beautiful beaches, and is a must-do activity for any visitor to New Zealand. As there are no roads to this beach, take a 40-minute bush walk to get there. Upon arrival, take some time to relax, sunbathe, swim, play sport, or just soak in the spectacular views. Later, enjoy time for lunch at a restaurant where you can try some local food, and can even have a beer if you choose (food and drinks not included). Continue to your next stop, the famous Hot Water Beach, where you can dig a hole in the sand to create a naturally-heated geothermal water bath. Finally, it's time to make your way back to Auckland, but not without stopping for a quick ice-cream and some more photos.

Frequently asked questions about North Island National Parks

What are other things to do than National Parks that are worth visiting in North Island?

The other unmissable things to do in North Island are:

Other Sightseeing Options in North Island

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What people are saying about North Island

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 23 reviews

We were a small group of 6 with a very experienced and personable guide called Danny Devito who showed us parts of the caves not accessible to the large groups. It’s a must do in the North Island.

It was a beautiful experience. Staff were informative and friendly. We’ll worth the trip. The only down side was the cost. At the ticket booth the cost was half what we paid through this company.

Gorgeous views of the rock carvings. Māori people have great skills and talents. Thank you for the free coffee, muffin, and friendly staff!

Corey was a wonderful guide, kept us entertained and well informed. Funny too!

Great, guide was most informative, even for a kiwi