5 Day North Island Itinerary, New Zealand

The islands located in the north of New Zealand are famous for their volcanic activities and mesmerizing and untouched natural beauty. You will find many national parks, areas with volcanic and geothermal activities, and even some of the finest cosmopolitan cities. Traveling to New Zealand cost isn’t a lot as well and you will be able to find affordable stays and food on your trip without any problem. The country is full of beautiful tourist spots and adventurous activities that you can do to make your trip worth the cost.

Itinerary Snapshot

Day 1: Visit various Auckland city attractions + Muriwai Beach

Day 2: Visit Coromandel Peninsula

Day 3: Take a road trip from Auckland to Rotorua via Hobbit Village

Day 4: Go to the thermal Parks in Rotorua

Day 5: Take a road trip to Waitomo Caves from Rotorua

5 Days in North Island New Zealand – A Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Visit various Auckland city attractions

Auckland waterfront
Auckland waterfront

On your first day of the trip, try to relax and cover some local attractions. If you are someone who loves adventure sports and wants to try out bungee jumping, take some time, and visit the sky tower. It is a 328 meters high tower that will provide you with the top view of the whole city and the harbors. There are other rope activities as well and you may consider them if you are feeling too ecstatic!

Other major attractions in the area include Auckland War Memorial, One tree hill, Auckland art gallery, Waiheke islands, etc.

In the evening, do not miss visiting the Muriwai beach for a gorgeous sunset. It is a surf beach with a black sand coastline that makes it a popular attraction for locals as well as international tourists. Every year, from December to March, Gannets nest on the beach, occupying the land and creating a unique scene for us. The hillocks by the beach help the newly bred gannets to take a lift-off and hurl in a flight back to their homeland. The updraft wind helps them to start their first flight which is a long one! They shall return in order to lay their own eggs someday!

Muriwai Beach
Muriwai Beach

Another option instead of Muriwai beach is Piha beach. It is equally beautiful and provides stunning views from the top of a cliff. However, you might not be able to witness the beautiful phenomenon of breeding gannets who flutter above your head as you admire the sunset!

Day 2: Visit Coromandel Peninsula as a road trip circuit

Cathedral Cove

This is one of the most popular road trip circuits on the northern islands of New Zealand because of its natural beauty. There are a lot of activities that can be done here. These include trekking, camping, hiking, etc. If you just get a road trip through this place, its beauty will provide you with great peace and satisfaction. It stretches for a distance of 80 km. There are several natural and mineral-rich hot water pools in the area like Miranda hot pools, The lost spring, etc.

But the highlight of the Coromandel Peninsula area is Cathedral Cove. You can either hike to Cathedral cove or take a boat ride. Instead of visiting Cathedral Cove, we decided to visit Gemstone bay. It was not a highlight of the area, but a nice peaceful bay to relax.

Gemstone bay

This area is one of the most popular fishing spots in the country and you can enjoy fishing with your friends and family while you are there. You can also visit beaches like Whiritoa beach, Shakespeare and Cooks beach, etc. to explore the crystal clear water and golden beaches. If you are a bird-watching enthusiast, you must definitely pay a visit to the Shorebird coast. In the late 1800, a sudden gold rush was seen in the area and you can learn about it as well.

Day 3: Take a road trip from Auckland to Rotorua via Hobbit Village

Hobbit houses at river in Hobbiton

Today, you leave Auckland in order to visit Rotorua. Instead of coming back to Auckland city the previous day, you could have gone to Rotorua directly. However, I recommend staying in Auckland on 2nd night in order to visit Hobbiton town on your way to Rotorua.

If you are a fan of ‘The Hobbit’ or ‘Lord of The Rings’ movie franchise, taking a road trip from Auckland to Rotorua is a great option for you. On the way, you will get to MataMata, which is a place where hobbit was mainly shot. You will be able to see the whole set along with the 44 hobbit holes and the exact same houses and gardens when you will have a look from the top of the hills. You can also get a sip of a pint in the Dragon Inn when you are done exploring the magical world of the hobbit movie franchise.

If you still have some time left, explore the nearby attractions like the famous Wairere Falls. It is a 153m high waterfall and is considered to be one of the highest in the Northern islands of New Zealand. If you want a place to stay, one of the best recommendations will be Shula’s Lakeside House, which is a very popular Airbnb in the locality with a beautiful view of the lake from your room and a lovely deck to chill in the evenings.

Shula’s Lakeside house, Rotorua
Shula’s Lakeside house, Rotorua

Day 4: Go to the thermal Parks in Rotorua

Hells Gate, Rotarua-
Hells Gate, Rotarua-

Today, you can consider exploring the local gems of Rotorua. This lakeside town is known for the geothermal parks and a lot of spots that represent the volcanic activities in these regions.

These volcanic activities are some of the most unique experiences that the northern islands of New Zealand have to offer. Due to the abundance of geothermal activities in the region, it houses a lot of thermal parks. These natural water pools have been present there since early ages and have been in the use of the native Maori people.

One of the first areas you should pay a visit to is Wai-o-Tapu. It is a very large geothermal area. You can visit the Wai-o-tapu thermal wonderland to enjoy the hot water pools. The key highlight here is Champagne Pool

Champagne Pool - North Island New Zealand
Champagne Pool

Another highly active geothermal activity area in the region is Hell’s gate or Tikitere. It is also a popular tourist spot. If you can spare some time in the evening, it is recommended that you get a skyline Luge Ride experience. The serpentine tracks will bring you down from the mountain top in style and simultaneously treat you to a spectacular view of the Rotorua town below.

Day 5: Take a road trip to Waitomo Caves from Rotorua

Waitomo Caves - New Zealand

Today you can consider visiting either Lake Taupo or Waitomo Caves. I’d recommend Waitomo caves out of these two as you may find Lake Taupo pretty similar to the Rotorua Lake. No doubt the Lake Taupo is the largest in New Zealand. But Waitomo caves is a unique attraction due to the glowworm caves.

On your drive to Waitomo Caves from Rotorua, you will come across beautiful farmlands of the country with a lush green landscape and beautiful countryside view. If you like to go fishing, make sure you make a stop at the Lake Whakamaru for trout fishing. 

You can also explore the beauty of the Pureora forest park, which is the home to many native and rare bird species. Try to take north from the town of Te Kuiti to go to the limestone region of Waitomo. You will find a very vast system of caves decorated with glow worms. Try to go for black water rafting to get the best experience and photos.

While returning from the Waitomo Caves tour, you can consider taking a stop at Polynesian Spa. The Polynesian Spa is known to give you an amazing experience of dipping in geothermal springs. There are multiple options available for you to choose from, ranging from super-private pools overlooking the Lake to huge public pools in an indoor setup. The cost of these options varies as per its exclusivity and other features. We opted for the private couple’s spa overlooking the Lake and would highly recommend the same!

Polynesian Spa at Rotorua New Zealnd North Island itinerary
Polynesian Spa at Rotorua

If you ask me, Rotorua is the most epic destination in the North Island of New Zealand. Muriwai Beach is also super stunning if you are a fan of gorgeous sunsets and birds. The Coramandel peninsula might be a long drive from Auckland as compared to other attractions, but the wide view of the ocean and hike to Cathedral Cove or Gemstone bay makes it worth it.

If you are looking at a longer trip across New Zealand, you may consider taking a flight from Rotorua to Christchurch. Landing at Christchurch will directly take you in the enchanting land of South Island. From there, you can continue your journey towards Queenstown.

I hope you liked this itinerary. Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section below!

Bio: Umang Trivedi is a travel blogger based in India. He writes about his travel experiences on Travelmax.in. He has traveled extensively in India, Europe & New Zealand. Along with penning down travelogues, he also curates travel ideas, itineraries & tips based on his travel experiences.  

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