New Zealand’s North Island is often rushed through or even skipped over altogether in favour of the more popular South Island. There is no doubt that New Zealand’s South Island is magical but the North Island is definitely worth your time. Here are our baby-friendly North Island must-dos.
Explore Hilly Auckland
We had a wonderful time exploring Auckland and with dozens of volcanic cones speckled throughout the city, it was a pretty good workout too! Here are some baby-friendly Auckland activities you should consider for your next visit:
- Climb Mount Eden. At the top you are rewarded with views of the city as well as neighbouring Waiheke and Rangitoto Islands. Even better, this “hike” is totally stroller friendly thanks to a paved main path that criss-crosses to the top. If you are looking for an even better workout, there are also steeper footpaths you can take, but you will need to babywear.
- Taste a bit of “Canada” at Best Ugly Bagels. This hipster restaurant features Montreal-style bagels with delicious toppings and great views of the Sky Tower.
- Stroll through The Domain, Auckland’s oldest park, to escape some of the city chaos, have a picnic and sneak a nap for the baby. The Domain is filled with beautiful trees, gardens and even some small waterfalls.
- Discover delicious beef rendang and roti at Uncle Man’s located on the always buzzing Karangahape or K’ Road.
- Hop on the ferry to visit either Waiheke Island (delicious food, wine, beaches and views) or Rangitoto Island (the youngest of . Waiheke Island is known for delicious food, vineyards, beaches and great views. Rangitoto Island, the youngest of Auckland’s volcanic cones, boasts great views and the opportunity to explore lava caves. Unfortunately we didn’t have time on this trip, but if you do have the time, you should definitely visit one or both of these islands.
Splurge on Hobbiton
We debated back and forth about whether to splurge on the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour. Despite being Lord of the Rings fans, at $79.00 NZD we considered this a pretty expensive way to spend a few hours. But in the end, the “you only live once” argument prevailed, and we set out for our morning at Hobbiton.
We were really happy with how efficiently this tour was run, how energetic our tour guide was and how impressive The Shire was to see in person. Hobbiton didn’t feel like a movie set, but instead made us feel like we had been dropped into Middle Earth. Parent’s will want to babywear for this excursion and will be rewarded with a tasty beverage at the Green Dragon Inn after the tour.
Be Amazed at Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland
Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland is possibly one of the most unique places we have ever visited. The volcanic craters and the steaming, bubbling and often brightly coloured pools left us feeling like we were walking on the moon. There is plenty to see and do at Wai-o-tapu but arrive early if you want to watch the Lady Knox Geyser erupt (10:15am daily).
The world famous Champagne Pool is Wai-o-tapu’s star attraction. Encapsulated by billowing hot steam and boasting a bright orange rim you will not be disappointed. Even the little lady thought the hot steam was hilarious and loved when we would walk her in and out of it so she could feel the temperature changes.
When you factor in having to stop to feed and a couple diaper changes, we spent about 3 hours exploring Wai-o-tapu and probably could have spent a few more. Babywearing might be preferred for some since there are a few flights of stairs, but given that you are essentially walking on flat boardwalks the whole time, taking the stroller is totally doable.
Relax in Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake and a popular resort area on the North Island. We didn’t have the best weather so we only stopped here briefly to have a picnic lunch by the water and to take in the beautiful scenery. If you have more time there are countless water activities and nearby walks to keep you busy.
Fall in Love with Wellington
We loved Wellington. From the beautiful views and delicious food to the extensive shoreside running path, we had an absolutely wonderful time in New Zealand’s capital. We have definitely added this to our list of cities we could see ourselves living in someday. Here are some baby-friendly Wellington activities you should consider for your next visit:
- Hike to the top of Mount Victoria for beautiful 360 degree views. From the summit you can watch the planes take off and land from the nearby airport, watch the boats and ferries come in and out of the harbour and get excellent views of downtown Wellington. You can also drive to the top, but those who want to hike it will want to babywear as the path gets narrow and uneven in some areas.
- Channel your inner hipster on Cuba street. With countless cafés and restaurants whose patio’s open onto the busy street, this is a great place to feed the littles, people watch and sip on a flat white.
- Ride the old Wellington Cable Car. Hop on at Lambton Quay and within minutes you will be rewarded with beautiful views of Wellington and the harbour. Once you are done snapping pictures you can either take the cable car back to Lambton Quay or walk back down through the botanical gardens.
- Take a walk or run along The Bays. Starting at Queen’s Wharf, this waterfront path is flat, paved and incredibly scenic. There are brass markers every 500m so you can keep track of your distance. We ran approximately 8km to Evan’s Bay and checked out the Zephryometer (which shows wind direction and speed) but for those who want to go the distance, you can extend this route to follow the coast for 38km.
- Spend a couple hours exploring the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and learn about New Zealand’s history. You can even take a spin in the earthquake simulator. If the Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War exhibition is still around definitely make sure to check it out. Featuring gigantic and beautifully detailed sculptures you will learn all about New Zealand’s World War I efforts.
Are you planning a trip to New Zealand’s North Island? What are you planning to do? Already been? What were your favourite activities?