Even though the North Island is the more densely populated of New Zealand’s two main islands, towns are still few and far between once you leave Auckland and Wellington.
It’s an island of volcanic peaks, dense bush, stunning coastline, high plateaus, rolling farmland – pretty much, this is perfect hiking territory, or ‘tramping’, as the Kiwis say.
Often classed as one of the best day hikes in the world, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing will challenge you with the ‘devil’s staircase’ and slippery scree slopes, but reward you with incredible turquoise
Weather can be very temperamental, so come prepared with waterproofs and layers.
Rangitoto is an unmissable sight from Auckland — it’s the volcanic island that rises out of the harbor. Hiking to the summit is an easy amble through native pohutukawa forest.
Located in beautiful Northland, the Cape Brett Walkway follows a cliff-side path and passes through native bush. The coastal views are amazing, and you’ll also get the chance to stop at Deep Water Cove for some swimming, snorkeling, and beach time.
It’s recommended to stay at the Cape Brett Hut overnight (bookings required).
The Coromandel Peninsula is a gorgeous area of beaches, thermal activity, native forests, and rugged coastline. Experience all of these on the quiet and remote Coromandel Coastal Walk. It’s also possible to mountain bike this one.
Located near Wellington are these enormous gravel pillars, which are unlike anything else in the country and are a wonder to walk among. Like many places in New Zealand, they appeared in The Lord of the Rings films.
Various walks can be done to and around the pinnacles along a streambed. They’re located in the Aorangi Forest Park.
The eastern part of the North Island is sparsely populated and rarely visited by tourists, which makes this the perfect wilderness destination.
Lake Waikaremoana is a particularly beautiful spot, surrounded by bush-covered hills and inlets. Hikers can trek the entire perimeter in
The Te Araroa trail will appeal if you want to string a whole heap of day-hikes together for one mega-adventure. This 1,864mi (3,000km) trail starts at Cape Reinga in the Far
It’s possible to just trek the North Island parts of Te Araroa. The landscape of the North Island is extremely diverse, from the semi-sub-tropical beaches of Northland to the plains of Waikato, the dense forest of the King Country, and the volcanic plateau of the Central North Island – tackling the top half of Te Araroa allows you to see it all.
Want to know more about New Zealand? Check out our podcast. We talk world-class diving, blood-pumping adrenalin, and road-tripping in a camper van.
Abel Tasman is a great place for easy exploring, but you’ll be competing with huge summer crowds. For something more adventurous and less trafficked, head inland to Nelson Lakes.
From Northland to Wellington, Liz Carlson picks her top adventure activities on the North Island of New Zealand.
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