31 best things to do in the central North Island
Dominated by the enormous Lake Taupō and a trio of volcanoes including Mount Ruapehu, the Central Plateau is sporting a plethora of natural ...
This is the land of towering mountains, golden beaches, lush rainforest and vast, volcanic plateau – and you can walk it all! Explore the best of the North Island’s magnificent scenery on foot, with walks up and down Te Ika-a-Māui ranging from short day hikes to multi-day expeditions and Great Walks of New Zealand.
Wander groves of shady nikau palms and radiant rata trees to the Pinnacles at the heart of the Coromandel Peninsula. A popular walk you can complete in one day or with an overnight stop at Pinnacles Hut, the trail follows a historic packhorse route used by kauri bushmen in the 1920s. The climb up the Pinnacles rewards you with spectacular views over the ocean, the Bay of Islands and the Bay of Plenty.
Widely considered to be one of Aotearoa’s (if not the world’s) best one-day walks, taking you past the famous emerald lakes and right up to Mount Ngāuruhoe, the real-life Mount Doom. If you’re hankering for more, book yourself some huts and complete the three-to-four-day Tongariro Northern Circuit, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
A steep climb to 360-degree views of Hawke’s Bay, including Napier, Mahia Peninsula, the Maungaharuru ranges and even Mount Ruapehu when the weather’s on your side. Māori legend says that Te Mata peak depicts the fallen form of a chief who died attempting a series of tasks to win his rival’s daughter’s love.
A one-day power-hike across a varied landscape of alpine wetland, bush and the lower slopes of Mount Taranaki with up-close views of this iconically Aotearoa mountain. This is the shorter version of the popular two-to-three-day Pouakai Circuit.
This track is a steady three-hour climb through birdsong-filled bush up an ancient volcano, with massvie views of Raglan Harbour, Pureora, the Herangi Range, and on a clear day, Mount Taranaki. For a less steep option, the Wairake Track is a shorter route cutting across private farmland, although it doesn’t have the same views.
One of the North Island’s two Great Walks, this tramp takes three to four days and is a true backcountry experience. Highlights include the staggering views from Panekire Bluff (try to keep your balance though!), the spectacular Korokoro Falls, and an ancient mountain range with cultural and spiritual significance to the Tūhoe people. Accommodation in huts or campsites must be booked in advance.
Urupukapuka Island Archeological Walk
Enjoy the tranquil coastal surrounds and take in beautiful views of the Bay of Islands while learning about the fascinating pre-European history of Urupukapuka Island on this five-hour loop walk. Access to the island is only available via ferry or water taxi.
Catch the ferry from downtown Auckland to visit the prominent cone of Rangitoto and embark on this popular two-hour walk. The track takes you through lava fields and the largest pōhutukawa forest in the world, and rewards you with incredible panoramic views of Auckland City and the Hauraki Gulf.
One of the best coastal walks in New Zealand, and it’s a pretty easy trek, traversing the remote northern end of the Coromandel Peninsula. Taking approximately three hours one way, the walk showcases Coromandel scenery at its best, from periwinkle bays to golden beaches and idyllic farmland.
A short walk from Wellington’s Ōwhiro Bay takes you to the fur seal colony at Red Rocks (Pari-whero). Māori folklore says the distinctive red rocks were stained that way by the blood of a famous Polynesian explorer. Whether or not you believe that, this spot on Wellington’s rugged south coast is a cultural, geographical and ecological marvel.
Hardcore hiking not your thing? Enjoy views of green Wairarapa farmland, native bush, river valleys and coastline on this glamping trip while someone else transports your gear. The three-day private walk is light as a feather, the breakfasts and dinners are provided, and you’ll be staying in delightful boutique accommodation.