Things to Do on New Zealand's North Island in Winter


Cynthia is an administrator, has a degree in Business, Economics, & History, and is a qualified Hypnotherapist. She loves to write & travel.

Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga

Lady Knox Geyser

Lady Knox Geyser

Tauranga Sunset

Tauranga Sunset

North Island of NZ in Winter?

Have you ever dreamed of visiting the North Island of New Zealand? When you mention certain destinations or countries, you immediately start thinking about what the weather would be like. The sun would be shining, the sky would be blue and the temperature would be high.

A warm breeze would be blowing through the trees and ruffling the surf on the perfect golden beach. New Zealand is one of those countries that quite naturally is associated with the summer. It is a country of stunning scenery, beautiful beaches and lots of outdoor activities – hiking, canoeing, cycling, swimming, and fishing to name just a few.

However, much as my Kiwi friends like to make out that it is the land of endless warmth and sunshine, New Zealand does have a winter and as I found out for myself it can be pretty (very!) cold and wet. Do not expect many concessions being made to the temperature though; such luxuries as central heating are rare! Travelling around is comparatively simple.

There are several bus companies that travel through both islands going to the major tourist destinations and even arranging accommodation for you – I used the Magic Bus. New Zealand is also very driveable so hire a car or camper van, or you can travel by rail, air or ferry. To find out what you want to do when you get there, you will find that most towns have an i-SITE, which gives out information to tourists and can also book travel and local tours for you.

So what could you do if you visited the North Island of NZ in the winter?

Ninety Mile Beach

Ninety Mile Beach

Ninety Mile Beach

Ninety Mile Beach

Ninety Mile Beach is at the top end of the North Island. It is a stunning stretch of coastline, and is actually misnamed as the sand and surf only stretch for fifty five miles. While you may not be able to sunbathe and swim in the winter, you can still take a drive down the beach (being careful not to get bogged!), do some fishing or, if you are feeling really brave, have a go at body boarding down the side of one of the steep sand dunes.

Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga Lighthouse

Cape Reinga Lighthouse

Cape Reinga and Paihia


At the very end of Ninety Mile Beach and at the very top of the North Island is Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean.  There is the lighthouse to be viewed and you can be mesmerised by the surging seas as the two bodies of water meet.


Situated on the Bay of Islands, Paihia still has plenty of things to do in the winter months.  There is good walking along the coastline and to Haruru Falls, the restored Treaty House at Waitangi to be visited, and the ferry to be taken across the bay to picturesque Russell.  Dolphin watching trips still go out in the winter, and some hardy souls still get in the water to swim with them!  Or if you like high speed thrills on the water, go on the Jet Boat Tour.

Tane Mahuta - Biggest Kauri Tree

Tane Mahuta - Biggest Kauri Tree

The Biggest Kauri Tree


The northern parts of the North Island are also home to the ancient Kauri forests.  One of these forests, the Waipoua Forest Sanctuary, is one of the biggest areas of pristine Kauri forest still remaining.  It is also home to the two biggest living Kauri trees – Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere.  There are lots of walking tracks, with some longer ones that take you deep into the forest and up to the high plateau.



Waitomo is the place to for caves!  If you want a really adventurous tour try the Black Water Rafting.  Don your wetsuit and hard hat and walk, float, crawl and abseil through a subterranean labyrinth radiant with glow worms.  If you want a rather more sedate cave experience and to keep dry, visit the enchanting glow worm caves.  The forty five minute tour culminates in a short boat ride in the final inky black cavern lighted only by the luminescence of thousands of tiny glow worms.  If caves aren’t your thing, you can always go and watch the Angora rabbit shearing!

Mount Manganui

Mount Manganui

Mount Manganui

Mount Manganui is on the Bay of Plenty close to Tauranga. The Mount itself is an extinct volcano with gentle walks along the base or stiffer walks to take you to the peak. There is a sheltered beach on the harbour side and miles of creamy sand on the thundering surf beach on the ocean side. Mount Manganui has an open hot pool complex, which is open right through the winter. The naturally heated water is so warm that it does not matter how low the surrounding air temperature is. The only chilly bit is getting back to the changing rooms! Mount Manganui has lots of cafes and restaurants, so there is always a good choice of places to eat and there is also good shopping.





Waiotapu Geothermal Park

Waiotapu Geothermal Park

Waiotapu Geothermal Park

Waiotapu Geothermal Park

Rotorua and Waiotapu Geothermal Park

Rotorua is dominated by the smell of the air – because of all the geothermal activities there is the gentle scent of sulphur and rotting eggs permeating the town. The town is built on the shores of Lake Rotorua and has many areas of geothermal activity. There is steam rising from the earth, boiling mud, geysers and hot, thermal pools. You can wallow in the warmth of these thermal waters at the Blue Baths and the Polynesian Spa in the Government Gardens.

You can visit the Rotorua Museum of Art and History and experience the Maori way of life at one of the cultural evenings that include enjoying a traditional delicious Hangi feast.

For those of you who like adventure and the great outdoors there are miles of walking tracks, fishing, white water rafting, sky diving, horse riding, jet boat tours, kayaking, trying out the Zorb, mountain biking, quad biking.....the list is endless!

Waiotapu Geothermal Park is a short drive from Rotorua and is a fantasy land of bubbling and steaming pools, brightly coloured water, boiling mud and geysers set in beautiful countryside. There are many paths to follow and the Lady Knox Geyser is encouraged to perform every morning at 10.15 am by the addition of soap!


The Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand, and many locations throughout the country were used. The Alexander Family Farm was selected as the site of ‘Hobbiton’ as the scenery was viewed as being very similar to the descriptions of Middle Earth, complete with a suitable Party Tree! Most of the film set has been removed, but there are still ‘Hobbit Holes’ remaining that can be visited including ‘Bag End’. Hobbiton is close to the town of Matamata and you can take a tour from Rotorua.


The Party Tree - Hobbiton

The Party Tree - Hobbiton

Hobbiton - 'Bag End'

Hobbiton - 'Bag End'





Napier is situated in the famous wine producing area of Hawke’s Bay, so it not surprising that wine tasting tours are one of the things you can do when you visit. It is built along the shoreline and a large part of the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931. Napier is also famous as being an ‘Art Deco’ city and there are ‘Art Deco’ walks that take you to view all the finest examples.

If you are interested in marine life you can visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand, watch the dolphin and sea lions at Marineland or view the gannet colonies at Cape kidnappers. For those who like a good pamper there is the Ocean Spa, where you can float in open air hot pools overlooking the sea, sweat in the steam room or book a relaxing massage.





Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand and on the southern tip of the North Island. It is from here that you can take the ferry to the South Island. It is set around a harbour and is backed by hills. It has many shops, bars and restaurants, museums, theatres and cinemas. Again, there is a lot of walking along the coast and in the hills. Wellington also has a large Zoo and you can visit the Kapiti Island Nature Reserve.

So the North Island has everything that you could possibly need or want in order to enjoy a brilliant vacation, even when it is winter! So start preparing for that special winter holiday in the beautiful North Island of New Zealand!

All images my own

© 2009 CMHypno


CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 25, 2015:

Thanks for reading the hub Elsie. You live in a very beautiful part of the world and it must be amazing to be able to go walking in all that fresh air and wonderful scenery

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 25, 2015:

Thanks for reading the hub Mark. It was an amazing experience hugging the party tree!

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 25, 2015:

Thank you for reading the hub doris and me and I'm glad you like the pictures

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 25, 2015:

Glad you enjoyed the New Zealand scenery colorfulone and thanks for reading the hub

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 25, 2015:

Glad you liked the photos Heidi. Thanks for reading the hub and leaving a comment

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 25, 2015:

Thanks for the congratulations on HOTD and for reading and commenting Chitrangada Sharan. Hope you get to visit the North Island soon

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 25, 2015:

If you get the chance to visit NZ RoadMonkey go, as it is a very beautiful country and there is so much to do,

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 25, 2015:

Thanks for reading the hub pstraubie48 and I hope you get to visit New Zealand very soon

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 25, 2015:

I'm glad the hub brought back some happy memories for you sallybea. I travelled around both islands for a month and a half and saw many beautiful sights

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 18, 2015:

I only just realised that it had been HOTD when I investigated why there were so many comments lol! Hope everything is well with you Randy and you are enjoying great writing success

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on March 13, 2015:

Very nice article. I'm a kiwi, New Zealand has a lot offering, I love it.

Where I live in Taranaki I don't need to go far, just walk out the door and can spend hours walking through the bush, along rivers, listening to the birds, talking to the animals, enjoying the fresh air, makes me a very happy kiwi.

Congratulations for HOTD.

Mark Johann from New Zealand on March 13, 2015:

I am fond of the Lord of the Rings. I can't help to go there someday and live the house of a hobbit. This a hub worth writing. Thanks. Your insights are awesome and the photos.

Mohammad Tanvir Ibne Amin from Dhaka on March 13, 2015:

I just love the pictures.Very informative hub..I like to go New Zealand in winter.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on March 13, 2015:

What an awesome and interesting hub for HOTD!

New Zealand scenery is breath taking, I'm sure.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 13, 2015:

Oh my! Such gorgeous photos. Thank you for sharing them with us and BIG congrats on Hub of the Day! Well deserved. Happy Weekend!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 13, 2015:

Congratulations for the HOTD!

Great hub with wonderful information and lovely pictures. North Island sounds like an amazing place to visit. Would love to see this. Thanks for sharing the details. Voted up!

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on March 13, 2015:

Congrats on the HOTD and Editor's Choice accolade, Cynthia! I'll bet you didn't even know you were on the program at all. :P

RoadMonkey on March 13, 2015:

I had never thought of visiting New Zealand but that sounds like a great place to go, even in the winter! Would love to try out those hot pools.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 13, 2015:

thanks for this introduction to New Zealand. I have learned so much through your tour.

One day perhaps I will get to come experience things up close and personal.

Angels are on the way to you this morning. ps

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on March 13, 2015:

Congrats on the HOTD - very well deserved.

I have been to both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. It is an exceptionally beautiful country and I would love to return again. Many of my family members live on the North Island so it was good to see these images, some of which I have visited myself. It would be lovely to catch up with them again.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on January 30, 2015:

Thanks Kathleen. I really enjoyed travelling around the North Island even though it was winter and pretty cold. Lying on the beach is great, but when the weather isn't so good you do make more of an effort to go and see things and take part in activities

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on January 28, 2015:

Such a beautiful place and such a beautiful hub. The south island gets so much attention (for good reason) but the north has its own charm. One of the best trips we ever did and I'd love to go back!

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 15, 2011:

New Zealand is a stunning country to visit skylar, so book your tickets and go and take a look. There are quite a few Kiwi hubbers, so you would get a good, warm NZ welcome. Thanks for reading the Hub about NZ's North Island and glad that you enjoyed the video

skylar.wishwash33 on March 15, 2011:

The video looked awesome and got me excited to take a trip out there to meet some Kiwi's!

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on January 31, 2011:

Happy that you enjoyed the photos of New Zealand's North Island, kims3003. They are all photographs that I took when travelling in 2007

kims3003 on January 30, 2011:

great choice of pictures and a very well written hub!

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on October 05, 2010:

Glad that you liked my photos of North Island New Zealand, s. prakash

s.prakash on October 05, 2010:

Great Hub! I like your photography.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on October 04, 2010:

Thanks for reading the Hub on North Island NZ Ingenira, and leaving a great comment. New Zealand is a very beautiful and unique country, and well worth a visit

Ingenira on October 03, 2010:

Great intro to North Island of NZ.

NZ is a very unique country by itself. The people, the nature, and the culture is just different from the rest of the world.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on June 11, 2010:

Glad you enjoyed reading the hub about New Zealand, Gypsy Willow, you are very lucky to be able to live there part time.

Gypsy Willow from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand on June 11, 2010:

Great hub about a great country. Have you checked out my hubs on the bus trip, north and south islands and the amazing flowers? I am lucky enough to live there part time and you are quite correct, the house doesn't have central heating!

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on June 10, 2010:

Thanks for the read and the great comment Naomi. Glad you enjoyed New Zealand. The winter weather in NZ was fairly similar to what you get in the UK - we Brits are used to cold and wet! But there was still lots to do and see, and New Zealand is a beautiful country

NaomiR from New York on June 09, 2010:

Great hub! I love your photos. We were in NZ in the spring so it would be interesting to return during a different season. In October, NY and NZ basically had the same weather, but it was beautiful, regardless.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on August 30, 2009:

Thanks kelvinlls, for the great comment and stopping by the Hub. I will definitely check out your blog!

kelvinlls from Sydney, Australia on August 30, 2009:

Great hub about the North Island! I lived in NZ for a few years, but was living in Christchurch. I have explored the South Island so much more than the North (only been to Auckland, Wellington and Rotorua there), so it's great to read more about it! Check out my blog for stuff about the South Island : http://fabulousjourneys.net

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on August 02, 2009:

Hi kiwi91. Thanks for the comment and the compliment on the photos. Also thanks for posting a link on Facebook - where do I find you on Facebook?

kiwi91 from USA on August 01, 2009:

Great work, and great photo choices. I just linked to this on my Facebook fan page.

The Old Firm from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand on July 29, 2009:

A cracker frost a couple of days ago and showers at the moment. Starting to warm up though. TOF's prediction is for an early summer. Will have to get stuck into the garden asap!!

Cheers CM,


CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on July 29, 2009:

Thanks for your reply to nj2k9-8, The Old Firm. On CM's island the media promised us a 'barbeque summer with high temperatures'. Well July has been a wash out and the news today has admitted that the first half of August is not going to be much better. Hope the sun is shining where you all are!

The Old Firm from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand on July 29, 2009:

nj2k9-8: Hamilton's central North Island, and on a river, so it's a haven for winter fog, as you've found. Wellington's windy, every-where's wet, but not as bad as CM's island, apart from the West Coast, where if you can see the ranges it's going to rain, and if you can't it is already.

Thanks for the thumbs up.TOF

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on July 28, 2009:

Thanks for the wonderful comment nj2k9_8 - glad you love New Zealand and had a great time there. The winter weather in the North Island when I was there was very wet, quite windy and could get cold - very much like the summer we are having in the UK!

nj2k9_8 from Minnesota on July 27, 2009:

I love New Zealand!!! I studied in Hamilton, New Zealand for a semester last year and had an absolute blast. Every weekend I was able to travel somewhere new and during our breaks I went to Taupo/Tongariro Nat'l Park and the South Island. I doubt there are many places in the world that you surf in the ocean, walk through a rainforest, hike a glacier, and climb an active volcanoe (to name a few) all in one day. But to comment about the winter weather I do agree that it is very wet. The mornings are usually foggy until early to late afternoon. But the temperatures on the North Island aren't that cold. Although I am a native Minnesotan, the winters in New Zealand are quite nice. The days has temps in the upper 40s and 50's and the nights hover a few degrees about freezing. As long as you have several blankets you'll be alright.

euro-pen from Europe on July 25, 2009:

Great hub and very informative. However, I have to second "The Old Firm". Each Northern summer I contemplate about going to New Zealand (or Argentina/Chile for that matter) just to have the possibility to ski. The Alps of New Zealand are such a wonderful mountain range. I hope that I will be able to travel there sometimes.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on July 24, 2009:

Hi The Old Firm, Thanks for the wonderful comment - there are so many outdoor activities in New Zealand that it's hard to fit them all in! Also, you have never seen me attempt to ski!:)

The Old Firm from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand on July 24, 2009:

Hi CMH, great hub, and accurate. Don't forget the skiing available in both Islands (or the huntin' fishin' trampin' bit all year round)


CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on July 08, 2009:

Hi emohealer, thanks for the geat comment and hope you get to New Zealand one day. I was there for a couple of months, so there is still a South Island Hub to come!

Sioux Ramos from South Carolina on July 08, 2009:

Loved the pictures! I also learned alot, For a world traveler as I am, New Zealand is one place I knew so little about before. Looking forward to learning more. Thanks

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