Home » Best Things To Do with Kids in North of Auckland
New Zealand North Island Popular Posts

Best Things To Do with Kids in North of Auckland

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Last Updated on June 3, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

*This post may contain affiliate links. Opinions shared are my own and I only endorse products I support. By clicking on any of the links below, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase at absolutely no additional charge to you. I appreciate your support.*

We were shocked to discover just how many amazing activities were available in the North of Auckland, New Zealand. We booked a month in Auckland with our family after we were let out of lockdown in New Zealand, and wished we had longer once we discovered all there was to offer. Auckland itself holds tons of fun activities to do with kids, so it’s a difficult balance deciding how much time to spend in Auckland vs. North of Auckland.  

Some of our favorite memories of New Zealand were made in the upper part of the North Island.  If you have the time, plan a few days to explore up north and try some of these amazing activities!

Bay of Islands

Not to be confused with the Bay of Plenty, which I did several times, the Bay of Islands is part of Northland.  If you want to see some stunning beaches and coastline, spend a day or two here.  

Russell Island

We chose the darling town of Russell for our weekend trip.  Our favorite things to do in Russell were:

  • Riding the Russell Island Ferry!  We had no idea we would need to take our car on the ferry to get to Russell, but it was a fun adventure.  You can technically drive around if you want, but it would take 1-2 hours vs. the 15 minute ferry.  The ferry runs long hours and is pretty cheap, so it’s definitely the better option.  Check the timetables here
  • Lunch at the Duke Hotel.  I’m not sure how it would be to spend the night here with kids in tow, but I’d encourage you to at least have a meal there.  It sits right on the beach and is steps away from the main shopping street.  We grabbed some ice cream after and played on the beach for a magical evening.
  • Exploring around the Christ Church.  This is New Zealand’s oldest surviving church. We loved looking at the old gravestones and peeking inside this ancient church.
  • Russell Museum Small, but fun, this little museum has a massive boat replica, interactive videos and more fun activities for kids.  
  • Hiking.  There are many beautiful trails scattered across Russell. I went for this hike by myself and soaked up beautiful, panoramic views.

Other Things To See In the Bay Of Islands

Rainbow Falls

Beautiful waterfall and swimming hole!  Take a picnic and enjoy an afternoon exploring.  Be careful if you want to play around the waterfall;  I wouldn’t recommend letting littles go up around the waterfall itself.  (We’ve had a bad waterfall experience, so I’m extra cautious)

Whangarei Falls

These are a MUST DO in this area.  Talk about stunning!  Bring the baby carrier for the littles as the hike down is easy but steep.  Strollers can work at the top, but in order to see the falls, the stroller won’t work.  I did bring an umbrella stroller at first, which I could carry, but I switched to the baby carrier before too long.

After checking out the falls, there are lots of wonderful hiking paths and swimming holes to play in.

Haruru Falls

These beautiful falls are very convenient to visit with kids, as this view lies only about a one-minute walk from the car park (which closes around 5 or 6 pm). These falls are definitely worth a stop! There is a great hiking trail in the other direction which can lead you down to the lake if you have more time.

Hundertwasser Toilets

I know… visiting a public toilet makes your list?  I wouldn’t go out of my way to see this, but they are very interesting!

Paiha Beach

Take a break from driving at this beach and playground.  There are some food places nearby, so you could make a beach picnic out of it.


The largest town in the Bay of Islands area, this cute place has a few things to see.  Explore the town and check out fun things like Parrot Place.

90 Mile Beach and the Sand Dunes

Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes

By far one of my favorite memories from all our months in New Zealand is boogie boarding down these sand dunes.  When I was looking for where to go in NZ, this caught my attention and really pushed me over the edge when considering going to NZ at all!  See my post here for all your need to know about visiting these sand dunes with kids.

90 Mile Beach

Technically an 88 km stretch of beach, this is a recognized highway in NZ!  Before you get too excited, know that rental cars are not allowed to drive on it due to safety reasons.  There are many activities here and you can book tours here from the Bay of Islands.

Cape Reinga

It’s not only cool to be in the northernmost part of New Zealand, but this place is gorgeous!  Two oceans come together at the top of New Zealand, and seeing it from the lighthouse is a neat experience.  

Closer to Auckland

Lake Wainamu

Less than an hour from Auckland, take a walk around this beautiful lake.  Also near Bethell’s Beach, which is worth a visit.

Matakana Farmers Market

Matakana is a darling town that is worth a visit! The Matakana Farmers Market has some amazing items and keepsakes from New Zealand.  Grab lunch, play at the little playground, sit by the river, and relax.

Matakana Country Park 

Burn off more energy at this massive playground and petting zoo.  When we went, there was a small train to ride as well.

Enjoy your time north of Auckland! New Zealand has so much to offer. See my post for the Top Activities for Kids in Auckland for more!

Additional Reading






  • Skyscanner.  We love the “anywhere” feature to see where it is cheap to fly to.
  • Kiwi.com. They will arrange the cheapest connection, which may mean a few different airlines.  However, if flights change, they will find you a solution!
  • Expedia.  Since we fly so many different airlines, we love the Expedia points we can earn.  We also get better deals the more we book through them.
  • Other platforms we like: Priceline, Aviasales, Hopper, and Travelocity.



  • Airbnb Experiences
  • Viator
  • Get Your Guide
  • These platforms allow you to put in the dates and location and will give you the option to book top activities in the area, straight from the site.


As a large, full-time traveling family, travel insurance is a must for us. It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance in case something goes wrong. With the unpredictable state of the world, it is more important now than ever.
We love World Nomads for our travel insurance. They provide travel insurance to travelers from over 130 countries and have many policy options to fit your needs. World Nomads allows you to add multiple destinations to your plan, so it is great for those always on the move. (Coverage may not be available for residents of all countries, states, or provinces. Be sure to carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage

We also love Travel Insurance Masters. They offer a wide selection of plans to suit every traveler. They work only with reputable insurance providers and recommend the best plan for a traveler’s specific trip, and offer side-by-side comparisons of a multitude of plans all in one place. Their smart algorithm and filters make requesting a quote and purchasing travel insurance easier than ever.


For a comprehensive list of all the 7 Wayfinders Travel Must-Haves, Click Here. 

Tip: If you are making an online purchase (airline tickets, hotels, clothing…basically anything you can imagine) be sure you are using Rakuten! You can either download the app if you are shopping on mobile, or open a browser on a desktop. You then type in the store you are looking to shop at (ie: hotels.com, amazon.com) and shop like normal. The only catch…you get money back! Each store is different, but you can get anywhere from 2%-35% cashback on every purchase! For us, it’s a no-brainer. We are shopping anyways, might as well get some money back!


  1. Pingback: What To Know Before Visiting Hobbiton with Kids - 7 Wayfinders

  2. Pingback: New Zealand Road Trip Tips - Driving Tips for Tourists - 7 Wayfinders

  3. Pingback: Ultimate Guide To New Zealand: 95 INCREDIBLE Things To Do With Kids - 7 Wayfinders

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *