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My North Island New Zealand Itinerary

North island New Zealand, one week itinerary
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Have you dreamed of exploring a country where around every turn you have to stop because you are blown away by the beauty? If so, then sounds like you need to plan a trip to New Zealand! My North Island of New Zealand Itinerary was the perfect introduction to this spectacular country, and I would love to share it with you so you can plan your own trip to New Zealand’s North Island.

If we could kindly look past the quality of these images that would be great. I took them years ago and didn’t do much more than quick snaps back then. It’s an excuse to go back to both islands, the South and North island’s of New Zealand.

My North Island New Zealand itinerary

Why The North Island?

When I decided to leave Australia and head to New Zealand, I only had one week to spend there. I had always planned on exploring the South Island for several reasons; because I have heard that it is the more beautiful of the two islands, I wanted to head to Wanaka, I wanted to see the fjords, and I REALLY wanted to eat at Fergburger.

Another thing I was dying to do was the highest bungee jump in New Zealand, the Nevis bungee in Queenstown.

But the more I looked into New Zealand, the more I felt that there was no way I could go to the country and not go to Hobbiton.

For those who do not know, Hobbiton is on the North Island, not the South.

The decision between the two islands was really difficult, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized a few things.

I was going the first week of June, so the beginning of ski season on the South Island. This meant it would be busy, prices would be sky-high, and I wanted to have time to really explore without being worried about fighting tourists for views or paying extortionate amounts of money.

And besides, now I have an excuse to go back!

So since I had now decided on the North Island it was time to decide on how to narrow it all down to just six days, and still be able to feel like I spent time in the country, not just in my rental car.

The thing with New Zealand is that it is a stunning country. No matter where you look you are surrounded by beauty. I knew that I really wanted to head up North, but I also really wanted to head down South to Wellington (Peter Jackson LIVES there guys, and it is nicknamed Wellywood!)

In the end I didn’t go to either part of the island, and instead focused on the middle.

For this post I’m going to break down my trip by day, then afterwards give tips on where to eat, where to stay, and what to do in each place!

North Island New Zealand. A Maori Statue in Rotorua

How To Spend One Week On New Zealand’s North Island

Day 1- Arrive in Auckland.

Unfortunately I have nothing but dislike for this city. I tried to like it, I really did, but we just did not get along. I arrived there in the early evening, and took a bus to my hostel. The problem though? The bus driver didn’t know where my hostel was, so he dropped me off on the road and kept going.

I spent a few hours in the pouring rain walking up and down this steep hill with my backpack, rucksack, laptop bag and purse, asking strangers for help. No one knew where to go.

I finally found a bus driver standing outside his bus smoking. I wandered over to him, sobbing, and asked him for help. He took pity on me and led me to my hostel.

Once I got to my hostel the woman working the desk saw me, crying and soaked from the rain, and upgraded me to a private room.

This was so kind of her! But my door didn’t lock and a couple spent the evening fighting very loudly, meaning I didn’t get much sleep.

While this wasn’t the introduction to Auckland I was hoping for, I feel certain that I can go back and turn my feelings for this city around.

Where To Stay In Auckland

Budget Stay – Haka Lodge

Midrange Stay – The Bays Bed & Breakfast

Luxury Stay – Ponsonby Manor

Where To Eat In Auckland

What To Do In Auckland

  • Day trip to Waiheke Island
  • Take an elevator to 220 meters above street level to see the views at The Sky Tower
  • Book yourself a Sky jump from the top of the Sky Tower
  • Kayak over to Rangitoto Island
  • Learn about Maori Culture and History at the Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Walk around the waterfront
  • Relax to a beach
  • Search for dolphins and whales on a boat tour

Day 2- I (finally) left Auckland and got to go driving through the country. The car I rented from Jucy didn’t have the GPS I requested, so I got to go on a journey around Auckland looking for one. To be frank, this was a stressful few hours, but I finally got one from Auckland’s sky tower, ate some Subway by the beautiful waterfront, and hit the road!

Everywhere I looked I was more shocked with beauty. I kept wanting to pull over to stare at the farm’s and mountains surrounding me.

This night I drove to Waitomo so that the next morning I could go explore the famous Glow Worm caves!

The drive from Auckland to Waitomo is about 2.5 hours long.

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My hostel was stunning!

Day 3- I woke up early and was the first at the Glow Worm caves. Since I was early they asked if I would like a private tour of the Glow Worm caves instead of waiting for my first cave tour (which was the Aranui cave) so I said yes! Getting a free upgraded private tour was magical!

Photos are not permitted on this tour.

Afterwards I went to the Aranui cave for a tour. I had about an hour to wait before the group tour so I went for a hike on one of the hiking trails. Of course it was gorgeous, no surprise there!

We saw where Queen Elizabeth II had a shack built for her for her visit to the caves, and then we got to explore the caves!

There are three different caves in Waitomo, each unique.

There are the Glowworm caves, the Ruakari cave, which is the largest in the area, and the Aranui cave, which has brown, pink and white stalactites and stalagmites all over the walls and ceiling of the cave.

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The ceiling in the Aranui cave

North Island New Zealand. Aranui cave ceiling

Aranui Cave, North Island New Zealand

We were allowed to take photos in the Aranui cave but it was very hard due to the light. Here is one of the ceiling!

Where To Stay In Waitomo

Budget Stay – Juno Hall Backpackers

Midrange Stay – Abseil Inn

Luxury Stay – Waitomo Retreat

Where To Eat In Waitomo

  • Waitomo Homestead
  • Stoked Eatery
  • McDonald’s. I know I know, McDonald’s? But I ate here while in Waitomo for a quick, cheap meal. Also, checking out McDonald’s in new countries is always fun!
  • Huhu Cafe

What To Do In Waitomo

The main draw to visiting the Waitomo region is for the Caves. While the glow worm caves are the most popular, the other caves are incredible to check out too, and there are plenty of hikes in the area.

After this tour I drove the two hours it takes to get to Rotorua, a town famous for the smell of rotten eggs due to the sulfur from the geothermal activity in the area.

I really wish I had more time in this town! This was my favorite town I visited on New Zealand’s North Island.

The first day my hostel mate and I wandered around Kuirau park just across the street where I got incredible photos such as this…

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That evening I headed off to a Maori cultural experience. I’m not going to lie, I knew it was a touristy experience but I felt weird being bussed off with loads of other tourists to be “entertained” by the ways of the Maori people.

It was so informative being shown the way their ancestors lived, and eating a Hangi meal was delicious. I just felt weird about it all.

A Hangi meal is food that’s been cooked underground in a hot rock pit.

Day 4- This day was supposed to start with a tour of Hobbiton. Unfortunately due to miscommunication (the company told me to meet at the wrong pick up spot, so I had to watch as the big green bus drove past me) I missed my tour. Thankfully I was able to reschedule for the next day so I now had time to wander the town with my hostel mate.

We spent all day walking around Rotorua, dipping in and out of shops, and then we ended the evening by watching Game of Thrones. Getting to relax while traveling is so important because it allows you to get some much needed rest and recharge a bit.

kuirau Park, North Island New Zealand. Here you can see natural geothermal activity

Kuirau Park, North Island New Zealand

Kuirau Park, North Island New Zealand

Where To Stay In Rotorua

Budget Stay – YHA Rotorua (I stayed here and loved it!)

Midrange Stay – Best Western Braeside

Luxury Stay – Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort

Where To Eat In Rotorua

What To Do In Rotorua

Day 5- I MADE IT TO HOBBITON and lived the life of a Hobbit. This was such an amazing experience, and I knew when visiting that I had made the right choice by choosing the North Island of New Zealand! I ended that visit to Hobbiton with a drink at the iconic Green Dragon.

Afterwards I hurried to get my car from the hostel and drove the hour or so to Taupo so that way I could take the plunge! I had my bungee jump scheduled for early afternoon, so I had a bit of a rush.

When I arrived at my hostel I was quickly introduced to my hostel mate, who ended up being one of the highlights of Taupo. She came with me and took photos of my bungee jump.

I then had a fun night with some people I met at the hostel and we watched Mr. Bean and Lord of the Rings (very apt considering where we were).

The party tree looms over a Hobbit House with a green door, North Island New Zealand

Day 6- This was my last full day in New Zealand. My absolutely incredible hostel mate was moving on so myself and another girl took her to the bus stop. Afterwards we walked around in the rain and then found some hot springs at the Thermal Park that I enjoyed. One of the cool things about Taupo is the hot springs that anybody can relax in.

We ended up picking up a guy from the hostel and went to Huka Honey Hive to learn about the bees, try some honey samples, and support the shop.

Before heading back to the hostel we wanted to check out the famous Huka Falls. They did not disappoint! It was so mesmerizing watching the bright blue color and seeing how powerful they were. Huka Falls are so powerful that they can fill an Olympic sized swimming pool in just 11 seconds!

Afterwards we picked up pizza for dinner and all of us at the hostel watched the Hangover.

Day 7- Today I had to make the drive back to Auckland and get on a plane back home. The drive is just under 4 hours, and like the entire country, is just stunning!

Bungee Jumping in Taupo New Zealand

Huka Falls, North Island New Zealand
Powerful Huka Falls

Huka Falls, North Island New Zealand

Where To Stay In Taupo

Budget Stay – Finlay Jack’s YHA Hostel. When I stayed here it was called Black Currants, and was my favorite hostel that I’ve ever stayed.

Midrange Stay- Haka Lodge. The “premier” backpacker accommodation, there are still dorm rooms, but you can also book a private room. They have a BBQ area, unlimited WI-FI, a outdoor deck, and on-site laundry!

Luxury Stay- Acacia Cliffs Lodge. For the ultimate luxury, Acacia Cliffs is for you. With only 4 private rooms, a stay here is an exclusive experience.

Where To Eat In Taupo

What To Do In Taupo

North Island New Zealand FAQ

Is New Zealand’s North Island safe to travel?

Absolutely! I may argue that New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world. People frequently hitch hike on both islands, and there are no natural predators (besides people of course!).

Is Traveling The North Island Possible In One Week?

It is. While there is SO much to see and do on the North island, you simply won’t be able to do it all in one week. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan a week here! I narrowed down what I couldn’t pass up. That meant planning my trip around visiting Hobbiton, which brought me to one of the coolest places I’ve been – Rotorua, and brought me to the stunning town of Lake Taupo.

How Should I Travel The North Island of New Zealand?

I personally rented a car, but if you’re more comfortable taking the bus than that is certainly an option! Busses run daily in New Zealand, so you don’t have to drive if you don’t want to.

But I will say, driving in New Zealand is safe, easy, and beautiful.

What Is The Weather Like On New Zealand’s North Island?

Mild and temperate year round.

New Zealand has seasons opposite to Canada and The US, but the country does still get snow on the North Island. January and February are the warmest months, with June and July being the coldest. I visited in June and while the weather was cool, it wasn’t nearly as cold as a Canadian winter.

Would you explore the North Island of New Zealand?

North Island New Zealand, one week itinerary
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14 Responses

  1. Ive never been in New Zealand and yeah I never even watched the Lord of the rings 😀 I saw photos tho and that wanted me to go there right away ! Hopefully I can plan one day my trip over there for longer time

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Brooklyn standing in front of the pyramids of Giza

Brooklyn Murtaugh

travel blogger

Hi! I’m Brooklyn. Like many, I thought my purpose in life was to go to university, settle down and have kids. But that is not me. 

My aim is to inspire you to travel as much as you can while you can, whether that be through au pair work, or on your limited vacation days. It CAN be done. This world is incredible, let’s explore it!

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