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11 New Zealand North Island Hidden Gems


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Babette Liu


New Zealand’s North Island is a treasure trove of stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and hidden gems waiting to be discovered. While popular attractions like Auckland and Rotorua often steal the limelight, there are plenty of lesser-known spots that offer unique and unforgettable experiences. From picturesque beaches to mesmerizing geothermal wonders, the North Island has it all.

In this article, we will take you on a journey to uncover 11 hidden gems of the North Island. These off-the-beaten-path destinations will allow you to escape the crowds and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and rich heritage that New Zealand has to offer. So, prepare to be amazed as we delve into the hidden treasures of the North Island that will make your trip an extraordinary one.

The Coromandel Peninsula

The Coromandel Peninsula is a true hidden gem on the North Island of New Zealand. With its stunning coastlines, secluded beaches, and lush rainforests, it offers a perfect escape for nature lovers. Explore the famous Cathedral Cove, take a dip in the hot water beach, or hike along the Pinnacles Track for breathtaking panoramic views.

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Home to three active volcanoes, Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu, this park offers incredible hiking trails, including the renowned Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Be prepared to witness breathtaking volcanic landscapes and captivating emerald lakes.

The Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is a picturesque paradise known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life. Explore the 144 islands scattered throughout the bay, go dolphin spotting, kayaking, or take a boat cruise to see the famous Hole in the Rock. The beauty of this region is simply unmatched.

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Discover the magical world of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, where thousands of tiny glowworms illuminate the underground caverns. Take a boat ride through the caves and witness the breathtaking glowworm display that will leave you spellbound. This unique experience is a true wonder of nature.

Rotorua’s Geothermal Wonders

Rotorua, known for its geothermal activity, offers a fascinating glimpse into the Earth’s natural wonders. Visit the bubbling mud pools, experience the power of the Pohutu geyser, and relax in the natural hot springs. Immerse yourself in the Maori culture and enjoy traditional performances and a hangi feast.

The Kapiti Coast

The Kapiti Coast is a hidden gem just a short drive from Wellington. This stunning stretch of coastline boasts beautiful beaches, vibrant cafes, and breathtaking views. Explore the Kapiti Island Nature Reserve, home to rare bird species, or indulge in the local cuisine and artisan products in the charming coastal towns.

Mount Taranaki

Mount Taranaki, an iconic volcanic peak, offers stunning hiking trails and captivating landscapes. Take on the challenge of the Pouakai Crossing, or simply enjoy the beauty of the Egmont National Park. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the mountain’s reflection in the peaceful waters of the Pouakai Tarns.

The Hawke’s Bay Wine Region

The Hawke’s Bay region is a paradise for wine enthusiasts, with its world-class vineyards and wineries. Explore the vine-covered hills, indulge in wine tastings, and sample the region’s gourmet cuisine. Take a leisurely bike ride along the scenic vineyard trails, and capture picturesque vistas of rolling vineyards.

The Forgotten World Highway

The Forgotten World Highway is an adventurous road trip route that takes you through remote and breathtaking landscapes. Drive through narrow winding roads, cross historic viaducts, and explore charming small towns along the way. This journey offers a glimpse into the untamed beauty of New Zealand’s North Island.

The Taranaki Falls

Hike through the Tongariro National Park to witness the magnificent Taranaki Falls. The short walk leads you through lush forests, across a swing bridge, and the reward at the end is a cascading waterfall surrounded by picturesque scenery. This hidden gem is a true oasis of tranquility.

The Whanganui River Journey

Embark on a remarkable adventure along the Whanganui River, one of the longest navigable rivers in New Zealand. Canoe or kayak through the remote wilderness, marvel at towering cliffs and lush forests, and experience the rich cultural history of the river and its Maori heritage. This journey offers a unique perspective of the North Island’s hidden treasures.


The North Island of New Zealand is a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. From rugged coastlines to lush forests, charming towns to breathtaking geothermal wonders, this island offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers seeking something off the beaten path. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, a nature lover, or a cultural explorer, the North Island has something for everyone.

As you embark on your journey to explore these hidden gems, be sure to immerse yourself in the unique Maori culture, indulge in the local cuisine, and take advantage of the outdoor adventures that await you. With its stunning landscapes and welcoming locals, the North Island offers an unforgettable travel experience that will leave you longing to return.


1. How do I get to the North Island of New Zealand?

There are several international airports on the North Island, including Auckland, Wellington, and Hamilton. You can fly directly to these cities from major hubs around the world.

2. What is the best time to visit the North Island?

The North Island has a mild and temperate climate, making it a year-round destination. However, the summer months of December to February offer the warmest temperatures and the most pleasant weather for outdoor activities.

3. Are there any hiking trails in the North Island?

Absolutely! The North Island boasts numerous hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging multi-day hikes. Some popular options include the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the Waikaremoana Track, and the Te Henga Walkway.

4. Are there any geothermal attractions in the North Island?

Yes, the North Island is famous for its geothermal wonders. Places like Rotorua and Taupo are known for their hot springs, geysers, and mud pools. Make sure to visit Wai-O-Tapu and Waimangu Volcanic Valley for an unforgettable geothermal experience.

5. Can I swim with dolphins in the North Island?

Absolutely! The Bay of Islands and the Bay of Plenty are renowned for their dolphin-watching and swimming experiences. Book a tour and have the opportunity to swim alongside these playful creatures in their natural habitat.

6. Are there any cultural experiences to enjoy in the North Island?

Yes, the North Island has a rich Maori heritage, and there are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture. Visit a Maori village, witness a traditional haka performance, or participate in a hangi feast to learn more about the Maori way of life.