The North Island of New Zealand for families with kids

The North Island of New Zealand is a great place to start any trip around that stunning country! Click for more info!

A pin to make busy lives a little bit easier

I will list here all the things we’ve done and seen throughout NZ’s North Island – except Auckland because Auckland has a whole different post here. This post will keep being updated as we travel around, so check it out often! It is not in any kind of special order.




New Zealand‘s North Island for families with kids

Tongariro National Park – we spent 3 weeks there during autumn 2016. Lovely, quiet, to relax, really. It is a spot for winter sports if you like them. We stayed at this bach, which was perfect, with everything we needed.

Tongariro National Park, NZ

We thoroughly enjoyed our sunset walks while there. What a beautiful thing it is to watch the sunset over the mountains!

  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing: 19.4 km of walk through the Tongariro Mountain. Not an easy hike, so Angelo did it alone. It took him over 7 hours. He enjoyed it but came home really tired.
  • Taranaki Falls Walk, a 2 hours return track, with loads of stairs, gorgeous views, and the most amazing waterfall: you can walk right behind it.
  • To eat, and surf the Internet, we tried the Station Café (good food, but most importantly, fast internet), Macrocarpa Café (the food wasn’t exceptional, just OK and the internet did not work at all) and the Chateau Tongariro (expensive, OK food, really good dessert).
  • Whakapapa Village: just beautiful, even if you don’t ski. Loads of walks and a great information center (+ free wifi).

Whanganui (or Wanganui) – we spent one afternoon there (April 2016) and we didn’t see anything besides the city on the way and the center and we LOVED it! It is a small city full of character, vintage buildings, parks, and farms, but it’s still big enough to have cinemas, malls, and loads of stuff to do. Oh, so gorgeous!

Whanganui, NZ

Whanganui, a charming and full of character little town. We loved it!

Taupo – we didn’t really spend a lot of time there, just went and spent the day a few times. It is a city with everything you might need but still has this small city character. Charming!

Giant Chess, Taupo, NZ

Who doesn’t like giant chess? We sure do and we play it every time we have the chance! This is in Taupo.

  • Lake Taupo: Huge lake with beautiful views from anywhere around it. Alas, around it is a lot of food and entertainment options. I haven’t been there anytime near summer, so I haven’t really checked what the water’s like but I heard it is icy cold.
  • Starlight Cinema: the only cinema in town, with 5 rooms only and an arcade (kind of outdated). It isn’t cheap as some of the cinemas in Auckland BUT it is a more comfortable. Had this funny smell (like a closet that’s been unused for a long time but was cleaned recently), but it wasn’t really bad or anything, just different. We were there in April 2016.
  • Playground: there is this very cool playground right beside the library. It has amazing plays and there is a giant chess set. Taupo Central (Tongariro Domain).





Wellington – we’ve been there a few times. We love it. One problem though is that it’s very windy. VERY windy. Bring on your windbreakers and enjoy.

Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, at Wellington International Museum

Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, at Wellington International Airport. Unfortunately, it’s not there anymore!

  • Wellington Airport: if you love J. R. Tolkien, you WILL love it. Gollum, a huge one, trolls, and Gandalf. That’s all I’m gonna say. The last time we were there, Gollum was out but Smaug had appeared. Super, super fun!
  • Te Papa: the best museum ever! It is mostly interactive, there are areas designed for children on each part of the museum and it is HUGE! Last time we were there, we had to use up 2 days in there. Kids love it, we love it. Super educational, super fun, just perfect. And it is indoors, so no wind inside.
  • Cuba Street: a pretty street in Central Wellington. It has everything you think about, even playgrounds. Really. There are also amazing photo opportunities. Worth the walk!
  • Weta Cave: Oh, my! I can’t just tell you how much I loved this place. I am a nerd, judge me. I just adore Tolkien and this little museum/store has it all. It is very small, but I could spend hours there if my children weren’t more excited than me trying to touch everything we could never afford. There is a tour of the studio where they show you how the films are made (or at least the effects they are specialized in) and it is awesome! Our kids were small when we went there (Coral was one and she slept through it all, in a sling). If you can, you must.
  • Waterfront: you could visit one water-front and see it all, probably. But there are just so many playgrounds and cafes, markets. And it is so close to everything! Even if it is just to give your kids some time to run around, it is worth it. Grab a fish & chips and enjoy the sun (if it’s sunny, of course).
  • Cable Car Museum: first of all, we took the cable car. It has 3 stations. In less than 5 minutes, from one end to the other. It was a bit disappointing. The museum is also quite small, but it is entertaining and it is covered. Great for a few hours on a rainy day.
  • Zealandia: it is a park that holds native species from NZ. It is like NZ was before the colonization. Big park, so many birds, and reptiles! My kids loved it. I confess I was so tired I was barely seeing anything but my kids LOVED it. Joao had a great time finding out birds he had only seen in books, seeing them flying, hearing their sounds. We couldn’t find any tuatara, but it was still fun. They have this little inside area with a mini museum (the size of the Cable Car Museum) that was also really fun. And the cafe…. Ah, how I loved the heating, the warm tea, and the couch….


Northland – we spent 2 weeks traveling through Northland in a campervan. We saw a lot very quickly, not even close to the slow travel we like to do. Still, awesome!

Tutukaka Harbour, Northland, NZ

Taking a break from the driving at Tutukaka Harbour, Northland, NZ – oh, the kids were so little!

  • Mangonui Fish Shop: the best fish & chips in NZ. It was pretty good, you could taste the freshness.
  • Cape Reinga: the farther northern spot in NZ, it is very pretty. It is just a lighthouse, the junction of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Oh man, is it pretty!
  • 90 Miles Beach: you can look left and right and all you see is the beach. We spend just one hour there and it was chilly so we did not get to enjoy all it has to offer, but still worth the drive, the wind, the chill. Amazing place to run around and be a child again.
  • Waipoua Forest: this is where you can find the amazing Tane Mahuta, the largest kauri tree known to stand today. It is quite impressive, really. There is a walk (5 minutes from the car park) and you can not get too close to it because it might damage the roots of the tree. We also visited the Four Sisters, which are 4 kauri trees growing really close together (a little walk – 20 minutes or so). Beautiful place, peaceful and calm.
  • Ka Iwi Lakes: great lakes for swimming. They are cold but clear, calm and empty. Oh, I could live there.
  • Tutukaka: it is said to be one of the best snorkeling spots in NZ. We didn’t get to see it because we had a few problems with the camping we had booked so we had to leave early. Such a pity.
  • Te Paki: sand dunes. Just sand dunes. Huge sand dunes. So. Much. Fun!!!!!! Just be careful and leave electronics in the car because sand has a way into them….
  • Waiomio Caves: small but amazing cave. It is beautiful, it has glow worms and it is cheaper than Waitomo. You need to walk through it, and it is 30-40 minutes walk in the dark, with a few lanterns. It has stairs, so everyone must walk. Coral was little and couldn’t walk yet. She slept the whole time.
  • Cable Bay: a pink sand beach. It is not piiiink pink but it is a salmon color and is gorgeous.

Pukehina Beach – we spent a week at the Pukehina Beach in November 2014. My foot was broken, the weather was not the greatest, but it was still so beautiful! The owner said we could see whales and dolphins sometimes, but we didn’t spot anything. The waves were pretty strong and my kids got a bit scared. There were many playgrounds around. It is this amazing setting, with farms to one side and the beach on the other.

Pukehina Beach, NZ

My view from the couch at Pukehina Beach, NZ. Quite sad to have a broken foot when you have a trip to the beach scheduled.

Rotorua – we spent a week in Rotorua in August 2016. It’s a sulfur-smelling city, but pretty cool. We had lots of fun there, despite the smell.

  • The Buried Village of Wairoa – a pretty cool indoor-outdoor museum about the Village of Te Wairoa, that ended up buried when Mount Tarawera erupted.
  • Te Puia – a thermal village, a beautiful one, with the Pohutu Geyser and a lot of Maori culture!
  • Sulphur Point – a free walkway passing through many smelly and bubbling pools – from mud pools to colorful hot water pools.
  • The Redwoods – free and awesome (and not smelly) forest! Loved it!
  • Lake Tarawera – It’s a big lake. Pretty cool to see the real thing after seeing the Buried Village.
  • Blue and Green Lakes – Two lakes, one beside the other – one blue and one green.


Matamata - Hobbiton, NZ

Matamata – Hobbiton, NZ. It’s a small town but, well, it has Hobbiton. What else could we ever ask?

  • Hobbiton: this is probably the only reason to visit Matamata. Do you need more? It is a 2-3 hours drive from Auckland and the tour takes 1-1.5 hour only. It is guided, so a group comes in, the guide talks about the place, takes you to the places they want to show, give you 5 minutes each time to take photos. Still…. awesome!!! It is incredible, you know, to see the work people put on building such a beautiful place, full of details, that’s gonna be on screen for 1 minute. It is a must for Tolkien/movie lovers. After that, you’re taken to the Green Dragon Inn for a drink and home! There’s also the option of the dinner tour, which was GREAT!


  • Where
  • Minimun Stay
  • $ ~ $$$
  • Child-friendlyness
  • Best local transport option
  • Safety
  • Do we recommend it?
  • North Island of New Zealand
  • a day, but to see it all, a year. 😛
  • $$$
  • Very child friendly!
  • Car.
  • Super safe!
  • YES!


Are you inspired to go see the North Island of New Zealand? You’ll not regret it!







10 replies
  1. Tatiana Saito
    Tatiana Saito says:

    A sua cara na foto do Gollum é a melhor! Ahahahahahahah!

    Tive uma super ideia pra quando vocês estiverem aqui: visitar Inhotim. Já foram? Nós também não e eu morro de vontade de conhecer!

  2. Amber
    Amber says:

    Hi, thanks for this post. We are heading to the North Island for a (quick) week in April. Our kids are 5 and 3. Very much looking forward to this trip. I think we are going to fall in love with NZ. There are a couple of things above that I am going to look up and hopefully add to our itinerary. Cheers

    • Thais Saito
      Thais Saito says:

      April is when the flowers bloom! Love it! If there’s anything we can help you with, let us know! You’ll have a great time!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] first ever stop was Tongariro National Park Village, in the North Island of NZ. We were there in April of 2016, during Autumn. We had pleasant days with chilly nights, very […]

  2. […] Truth is, if you’re paying for it, it’d be the same as anywhere else. We used hospitals in New Zealand, Japan, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, and there’s no difference. Except for the […]

  3. […] Maunganui is a beautiful town in NZ‘s North Island. It’s a peninsula, so it’s surrounded by beaches, walking distance from anywhere. If you […]

  4. […] near Australia. A tiny country composed of two main islands (Te Ika-a-Māui and Te Waipounamu – North and South Islands, respectively) and a few other little […]

  5. […] he was working for. On the blog, I updated the pages about our favorite restaurants, Auckland and North Island. We’re also going to send our this month’s postcards from Japan, so do subscribe (and don’t […]

  6. […] used Interislander to go from Wellington to the Picton in May, and Bluebridge to go from Picton to Wellington in August. Both times with our […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.