Top 5 Things to Do North of Auckland, New Zealand
When most people visit New Zealand, they fly into Auckland and then head south because that's where a lot of the fun and beauty can be found. But there is also plenty to do and see just north of Auckland and even all the way to the top of the North Island. We've done our fair share of exploring throughout this beautiful country. So here's our top 5 things to do north of Auckland, New Zealand and let's see if you agree!
Mermaid Pools of Matapouri
This really is as magical as it sounds! This was our very first adventure when we arrived in New Zealand and it did not disappoint! At low tide from the beach in Matapouri, you take a steep walk through a thick forested hill and pop out right on the rocks along the water. We felt like were we trekking through a rain forest because the bush was dense and the air was hot and humid. You could hear birds chirping and signing from every direction. Once you exit the forest, you take a short climb to the pools. The rocks gather water at high tide and become beautiful swimming pools at low tide. They are a gorgeous emerald green…perfect for mermaids!
Real Life: The hike up the hill is steep and slick. It’s not for the beginner hiker. But, our whole family did it just fine. Once you get to the water, be prepared to be cold! It is stunning, but really freezing. Only 2 out of 6 of our family members braved the water =)
Glowworms at Waipu Cave
New Zealand is famous for their glowworms! Yes, you can pay big bucks to visit Waitomo Glowworm Caves and you will definitely be entertained and wow-ed. But just 2 hours north of Auckland is a free show put on by thousands of little critters. You get to navigate through a cave all on your own and look at the dazzling cave sky of stars.
Real Life: Make sure to wear waterproof sandals/shoes because you will have to trudge through mud and water at times and it can be slick and messy! Bring a torch (flashlight) to help you navigate the cave. But make sure you let your eyes adjust to the dark so you can really experience the luminescent worms. Also, check the weather! You do not want to be exploring a cave just after it has rained. At some points, we were wading through water up to our bellies and we had to carry our kids in spots. But, it was so so awesome! But, be smart about it.
Mangawhai Cliff Walk
New Zealand is blessed to be surrounded by gorgeous ocean views! Many hikes in New Zealand take you through bush or along the beach. But, this hike is a great combo of the two, plus it has absolutely amazing cliff views!! We loved walking along the shore, jumping over rocks, and then enjoying that same view from the top as we looped back around.
Real Life: Make sure to go at low tide so you don’t get stuck and have to scale the mountain to get to the top of the track! We took a little too long so when we came to the part where we were supposed to walk through the stone arch to get us to the other portion of the trail, we were tough out of luck. So we had to climb up the steep and slippery hillside to reach the top trail. Luckily, we are good climbers, but if you aren’t, you will have to miss out on the stunning cliff track that loops back around to the start.
Kai Iwi Lakes
Yes, New Zealand is surrounded by gorgeous ocean, but there are also some very beautiful lakes too. Kai Iwi Lakes is breathtaking. Seriously. The water is absolutely crystal clear with a turquoise tint. It's a fresh water lake that is calm and relaxing. It's big enough to boat on, swim in, kayak or paddle board. It's really something else!
Real Life: Yes, the water is absolutely stunning. Nothing compares. But we went in the spring and the water was coooold! I enjoyed the lake from the shore while our kids braved the chilly water with their wetsuits on. Cody wakeboarded and the kids tubed and they were all freezing after their fun. It would be perfect if you visited in the middle of the summer when a refreshing dip is much more inviting with the warmer outside temperature.
Cape Reinga & Te Paki Sand Dune & 90 Mile Beach
At the tippy top of the North Island of New Zealand is a place called Cape Reinga. And wow! The views are breathtaking! You can do a short easy walk down to the lighthouse and see where the Pacific and Tazman waters meet. It's really cool to be at the furthermost part of the island.
A short distance away is a fun place to be a kid! Te Paki Sand Dunes are right along the beach. You can rent boogie boards, or bring your own, and fly down the dunes. It’s a ton of fun!
It’s not often that you can drive along the beach. But you sure can on 90 Mile Beach! At low tide, you can drive your car right along the secluded beach. The sand is packed down and is nice and smooth for you to cruise along.
Real Life: Make sure to go to Cape Reinga on a sunny day so you can see the vast ocean and cool cliff views. If you want to boogie board down the sand dunes, be prepared to pay more than you would want to fork out to rent a boogie board. We had no other option and paid $30 for 2 boards for an hour. But it was worth it. FYI….the speed limit for driving along the beach is 100 kilometers per hour…not unlimited. We may or may not have exceeded that limit…but luckily police weren’t patrolling the sands that day =)