North Island New Zealand: Things To Do for a 5-day Family-Friendly Itinerary (plus Budget Breakdown)

by - 3:40 PM

My family and I explored the North Island of New Zealand in 4-5 days. While many will argue that 5 days is way too short, that's the amount of time we had and it was enough for us. We started with a Hobbiton Movie Set tour and had a mud spa at Hells Gate. We then spent the next couple days at Skyline Rotorua, had a fun zorb ball adventure, immersed ourselves in Maori culture at Te Puia, and wondered at the Waitomo glowworms. Let's begin shall we?
Kia Ora, welcome to New Zealand.
Day 1
Unfortunately, our flights were delayed so most of day 1 got wasted. We landed in Auckland and spent this day getting our rental car, getting settled in our hotel (Ibis Budget Hotel - incredibly cheap and incredibly cramped but we were only there to sleep for the night so it was fine), and buying groceries to prepare for the road trips ahead.

Day 2

The ultimate first stop of course had to be the Hobbiton Movie Set tour which I wrote all about in a previous blog post. It was tons of fun and definitely something that you just absolutely CANNOT miss when travelling to New Zealand.

Hells Gate
After lunch, we spent the rest of the day at Hells Gate Rotorua and our experience there include a walk through a geothermal reserve, a mud spa, and wood carving. Make sure you check out that blog post too!

Day 3

Skyline Rotorua
I have to say that the only real reason we included this stop was because the Skyline in Queenstown would be undergoing renovations/maintenance for the dates that we were scheduled to go there and we didn't want to miss out on the luge fun. Our time here included a few rounds on the luge, a gondola ride, and spectacular views.
Make sure to check out the New Zealand Highlights on my Instagram to check out all the fun we had there.

OGO Rotorua

From one adventure to another, off we went rolling down the hill in a zorb ball. We actually drove from the original Zorb to OGO and we found that the hill at OGO appeared to be much longer, and we also read a lot of good reviews for OGO so we opted to go there with no regrets. We went on the wet ride in the middle of winter but it was absolutely no problem because they let us wait in hot pools while it wasn't our turn yet and the water inside the zorb ball was warm too. We went on two rides, the first on the normal downhill slope, and the second - the sidewinder which was a zigzag slope. I honestly felt dizzy and nauseous on the zigzag one. I thought, how do I get out of here?? But it was over before I knew it. Was so fun and worth it though!

Te Puia

As part of The Trilogy package, we had booked our Te Puia tour which included a dinner feast which was incredibly delicious and worth it! The tour included a geothermal walk which was insightful, and a Hangi feast (where they showed us how they cooked their food underground using the heat from the geothermal wonder). The tour guides were of Maori descent and I loved how they talked about how the Maori have incorporated themselves into society and do not receive any sort of monetary sustenance from the government, They, like everyone else, work for a living. Kudos! 

We got to take part of a ceremony where our "chief" presented himself (and us) as people who come in peace before we were welcomed in by the Maori tribe.

Members of the audience also got to take part in traditional Maori dances which was so fun to watch!! I wish I volunteered when it was the ladies' turn.

I also love that the number of people on this tour was controlled so it wasn't overcrowded at all and we got to enjoy the dinner buffet afterwards with no hassle. While planning our trip, I googled, "Is Te Puia worth it?" and here's my answer now - yes. 

Day 4

Waitomo Glowworm Cave and Ruakuri Cave

While it would have been so fun to go on the black water rafting adventure, we opted not to this time as we had a 5-year-old with us and it was just better for the whole family to stick together. It ended up being a good thing because on the day we were there, black water rafting was not allowed due to the weather. Exploring of caves was still fine though.

The Ruakuri Cave involved an approximately 2-hour walking tour where we learned about stalagmites and stalactites and we got to gaze at glowworms which was pretty cool. The Waitomo Glowworm Cave is where we got to hop on a boat and float along complete darkness with the glowworms illuminating the cave. To be honest, unruly tourists who didn't seem to understand "quiet" and "no picture taking" ruined that experience. And the boat ride was very quick. So to me, the Waitomo boat ride was a bit of a letdown after the Ruakuri Cave. If I had to pick one over the other, I would definitely opt for the Ruakuri Cave.

Day 5


We didn't have much time as we had to catch our flight to Queenstown. So after grabbing some breakfast, we drove around a little bit and took photos of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. We took it easy as we prepared for the South Island leg of our New Zealand trip. We were ecstatic to find that the Auckland Airport had a Dunkin Donuts stall though - we missed this badly as we don't have a branch in Adelaide.

Here's an approximate budget breakdown excluding costs for food and petrol:

*Note that the costs reflected were costs at time of booking and hotel expenses were divided among the number of siblings in the family sharing accommodation. 

Have you been to the North Island of New Zealand? Which part of the trip did you enjoy the most?


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  1. How I wish I could fly to New Zealand right now!
    I've been dreaming of visiting Hobbitton!
    Thank you for the complete yet easy travel guide Jeannie!


  2. Wow you really packed a lot in a week! And that mud bath looked great. I hope it helped with stress and improved everyones complexions. No I have never been to this part of the world. Hopefully one day I will.

    Allie of

  3. Oh gosh! I hope I can visit New Zealand one day, looks amazing ♥

  4. What a fun trip! you definitely managed to fit a lot in, although it's a shame that you didn't love everything all that much, the boat trip sounded so promising with the glowworms!

    Hope that you are having a nice weekend! I finished Christmas food shopping yesterday and all the gifts are bought so now we are just relaxing until the big day :)

    Away From The Blue Blog

  5. Looks like you guys are having a blast! The Trilogy experience must be really awesome.
    Jessica |

  6. I've always wanted to go to New Zealand! It looks like you had an amazing time! Thanks for sharing your recommendations! :) Happy Holidays!

  7. Seems so much fun..Happy New year

  8. So many great photos! Wishing you an amazing New Year!
    xx- Nina

  9. I Love New Zealand. New Zealand is a beautiful country with friendly locals and a rich history.
    anyway, I am sending this New Year message to you with loads of love. May it be the best year for you!

    Would you like to follow each other? If the answer is yes, please follow me on my blog & I'll follow you back.

  10. Oh thanks for share all the details about this trip

  11. I've never been but it sure does look like you made the most out of 4 days. I feel like the shorter the trip, the more you make out of it because there's always that pressure of not enough time!


  12. wow such a great trip - ty for sharing pictures from them xx

  13. Saving this nice guide! Absolutely love that mud spa. Happy new year!

    The Flower Duet

  14. It really looks like you all had such a great time! New Zealand is definitely on my bucket list! Its a shame your flights got delayed but I am sure you soon forgot about that! Thanks for sharing lovely xx

  15. This looks like so much fun darling! I'm loving your adventure pics!


  16. What a doll. Beyond amazing!!!
    Have a great weekend ahead!
    Much love, Len

  17. Wow, I see there are amazing things to to in New Zealand!
    Happy New Year!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  18. Oh what a nice post. Photos are great. Your blog is beautiful ♥

    Saw your blog and thought if you would like to follow each other? Follow me and I'll follow back asap. Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear something from you! :)

  19. This post is so great! Hope youre having a wonderful Monday so far!

  20. You did so much in only 5 days! It looks like you had a lot of fun, especially the zorb ball. This is making me want to go to New Zealand even more now!

    x Kara |

  21. I had so much fun with the luge in Rotorua too. We didn't go to glowworms and zorb but we also went to Auckland and ate at Wendy's. I can't believe they have Wendy's burger there too and Dunkin' Donuts. Have a fun and awesome 2019!

  22. Looks like you had lots of fun. New zealand is one country in my bucket list.

    Glowyshoe's blog

  23. every places are really great, wanna visit there someday 💕

  24. wow! it's look like you had a lot of fun, wishing to be there one day.The Glossychic
    Wonder Cottage

  25. I'm still swooning over this trip, it looked like SO much fun! I want to visit those caves ASAP and you all look so happy at the spa in the mud bath haha! :) x

  26. Ahh how fun! The luge looked like a blast!

    Le Stylo Rouge


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