15 Free Things to do in NZ, North Island

line 4 JPEGAwesome Free Things to do in New Zealand on the North Island

Northland

1. Check out Cape Reinga lighthouse

‘Te Rerenga Wairua’ in Māori language means the leaping-off place of spirits. There’s a tree here known to be where spirits decent into the underworld. It’s roots lead in steps down to the water. There’s a lot of cool Māori history and stories laid out on plaques around the lighthouse. My favourite is the story of the meeting of the two seas (the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean) who are male and female oceans. And as they collide and churn against one another it symbolises the creation of new life.

Cape Reinga lighthouse-2-2

2. Slide down the Te Paki giant sand dunes 

The long stretch of beach between Kaitaia and Cape Reinga is home to Ninety Mile Beach. Here you can find the endless Te Paki sand dunes. If you have no access to cardboard or a body board to slide you can rent stuff from nearby, BUT a barefoot run and roll can be just as fun!

3. Visit ancient Kauri trees in Waipuoa Kauri Forest

I’m talking 3, 000 year old trees here. Trees with a 5-meter wide girth. Trees that have lasted through all of the world wars. Really impressive trees. All of the trees are closely spread out within 30-minute walks from the road.

Waipuoa Forest Kauri Trees-3-2

4. Kiwi bird night walk from Trounson Kauri Park Campground

If you’re in the market to see a kiwi in the wild then this walk is a great option. At night you can hear their calls all around you and the book inside the campsite kitchen will inform you of the latest kiwi spottings and where. You’ll just need a flashlight, as the camp ground supply red cellophane to cover your torch and make it night vision.

Auckland

5. Auckland Art Gallery free guided tour

Always love a free guided tour. Auckland’s public art gallery set in a beautiful 1887 building with a très moderne facelift, houses international stars such as Picasso, Cézanne and Gauguin. There are two daily free tours at 11.30am and 1.30pm.

6. Walk to the top of Mt Eden – Auckland’s active volcano

A great day trip from Auckland is the panoramic views you’ll see from the top of Mount Eden. This place is a volcanic cone – you’ll have to check it out to see what that means. Also there is 5.5 acres of award-winning gardens on the side of Mount Eden with colourful plants, waterfalls, rock formations, birds and harbour views.

auckland_city_from_mount_eden

Coromandel Peninsula

7. Dig a hot spa in the sand at Hot Water Beach

How cool is this? Just take a shovel or something to dig and make your own spa! Perfect on those rainy NZ days (you wouldn’t want to go there when it’s hot!). The hot water isn’t all over the beach though and there’s a specific time you should go. Head to where the rocks are about 2 hours before the lowest of the low tide – so you’ll have about 4 hours to dig and sit in your spa before the waves devour them again.

Hot Water Beach Spring

8. Cathedral Cove for a beautiful beach

This beach was possibly the most beautiful beach I saw in New Zealand and I wish I’d spent more time there. It’s an easy 30-minute walk from the car park so don’t be put off by this! It opens out to an amazing rock formation (the Cathedral) and some of the clearest, greenest water I’ve ever seen!

Cathedral Cove Coromandel-6

9. Waiau Falls and Kauri walk

A little bit off the beaten path is this little gem of a walk. We did it in the rain and so we had the entire place to ourselves – no one in sight! The walk and the waterfall are both a short 2-minute drive from each other, or a quick walk. The Kauri walk will take you to the “twin Kauri” (two trees that have fused into one). And we even took a dip in the freezing but refreshing green milky water of the waterfall! The 3G out here is terrible so it’s much easier just to get on the 309 road then follow the signs.

Waiau Falls New Zealand-2

10. Do the Historical Walk at Karangahake

Despite doing it in the pouring rain, I really, REALLY enjoyed this walk. It’s absolutely stunning and the path not only leads you through some beautiful rainforest, but also through kilometre-long abandoned train tunnels and under rocky crevices. The walk is around an old gold-mining town and has interesting information littered all about.

Karangahake Historical Walk-7

Rotorua

11. Kuirau Park for hot springs and geo-thermal activity

I highly recommend this park right in the middle of Rotorua town. All within an easy stroll of each other are a bunch of different bubbling hot springs. Some are green, others mud and my favourite was a big lake with bright yellow build up on the bottom. Beware – it does smell a little bit. TIP: Drive or walk around afterwards and check out the Māori houses with steam coming through their front lawns and yards.

Rotorua Hot Springs-8

12. Soak in the warm waters of Kerosene Creek

Just in case you haven’t had enough of geo-thermic activity, here’s another good one. Although everyone knows about it, this little spot has everything… There’s a cooler lake near the entry, or a waterfall a little more upstream!

Waikato (Hamilton region)

13. Check out the surf at Raglan

A little west of Hamilton is the surfing mecca of Raglan. Manu Bay is famously known for having the longest and most accessible left-hand break in the world. But even if you aren’t into surfing there is some cool volcanic black sand coastline to check out and you can swim/body board at Ocean Beach. There are also some walks to do and the township of Raglan is super cute and a definite place to check out.

On the road in New Zealand-5Our awesome view of the surf at Raglan…

14. Watch Mokena Geyser burst and spit hot water into the air

About every 45 minutes this little, unassuming Geyser will make a sudden appearance blasting out hot soda spring water. The Geyser feeds the Te Aroha spa and can be found just behind the facility at the base of Mount Te Aroha.

Wellington

15. Explore Wellington’s Cuba Street

Probably New Zealand’s coolest street, an inner city slice of Bohemia where you can check out street art alleyways, buskers, shop, and visit quirky cafes. Great food culture can be found here and people from all walks of life.

Cuba Street Wellington

Watch my Vlog on NZ: Northland!
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Location Info
Place: North Island
Country: New Zealand
Language: English
Currency: New Zealand Dollar
$1 AUD = $1.05 NZD
I was there: September 2016

Note: Thank you to Tourism New Zealand and Spaceships Rentals for helping me out during my time in New Zealand. Opinions are always my own and not influenced by my sponsors.

What other free things are there to do in New Zealand?

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Categories: Australasia, Cheap Travel, Featured, Highlights of...., New Zealand, Places, Travel Stuff
Crystal Egan

Passionate baby goat cuddler and part-time adventurer, Crystal can often be found doing headstands on the edges of cliffs, taking photos of abandoned buildings or sleeping on deserted islands with dangerous criminals. She has too many awesome stories and helpful tips to keep them all to herself so follow along and in return she will bring you inspiring pictures, travel videos and a whole load of fun!

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