The Most Unusual Attractions on the North Island
Who doesn’t love a wacky attraction; something to make you scratch your head and question everything? Well, the North Island has plenty of those from the awe-inspiring glowworm caves to the just plain weird “Toothbrush Fence”. Inject a bit of character to your New Zealand bucket list with these unique and unusual things to do on the North Island!
While you’re here, you might also like the 101 Things to Do in New Zealand: The Ultimate List.
1. Tube Through the Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Unique on the North Island, the Waitomo Caves are the only caves where you can go tubing, abseiling, ziplining, etc. under the blue luminescence of the glowworms. Disclaimer: there is a place on the South Island that does this too, but we’re just talking about the unique and unusual things to do on the North Island, Ok?! Anyway, we digress. You can find out more about the crazy ways to experience the Waitomo Caves here.
Location: Waitomo, Waikato
2. Have a Race in a Monorail Capsule
While you can do just about anything in the tourist hotspot of Rotorua, nowhere else can you race in a monorail capsule! Jump in one of the two side-by-side capsules and put power to the peddle to ride the monorail on its undulating journey around a course. Can you get the best time? Find out more about the antics going on at Velocity Valley on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook. Plus, get inspired for more crazy things to do nearby in the 12 Best Things to Do in Rotorua.
Location: 1335 Paradise Valley Road, Ngongotaha, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty.
3. Get a Photo with the Toothbrush Fence
Strung up along a nowhere rural road near a nowhere village called Te Pahu, The Toothbrush Fence is easily one of the most unusual attractions on the North Island. Visit the colourful display or add your own used toothbrush to the fence alongside brushes that have been in the famous mouths of Prime Minister Helen Clark, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords).
Location: 275/305 Limeworks Loop Road, Te Pahu, Waikato.
4. Watch Time Pass By at the Claphams National Clock Museum
Tick tock! Times running out to visit the largest clock collection in the Southern Hemisphere! Proudly adorning the streets of Whangarei‘s city centre, Claphams National Clock Museum features a fantastical array of more than 2,100 clocks and timepieces. It’s one of the 19 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Whangarei.
Location: Dent Street, Quayside, Town Basin, Whangarei, Northland.
5. Sip Some Tea at New Zealand’s Only Tea Plantation
Absolutely unique in New Zealand and, in turn, the North Island, Zealong is New Zealand’s one and only tea plantation. There are multiple ways to enjoy the attraction outside of Hamilton, from plantation tours to high tea. Check out more 7 Things to Do in Hamilton for Foodies.
Location: 495 Gordonton Road, Gordonton, Hamilton, Waikato.
6. See a Replica of Stonehenge
Built on the same scale as the megalithic structure of Stonehenge in England, Stonehenge Aotearoa is New Zealand’s only open-air observatory that incorporates ancient astronomical techniques. Visit during the school holidays for a self-guided tour or book in for a private day or night tour – the latter giving you an opportunity to stargaze on a clear night. See more stuff to do nearby in the 10 Best Things to Do in Wairarapa.
Location: 51 Ahiaruhe Road, Ahiaruhe, Wairarapa, Wellington.
7. Go to a Centre Dedicated to Trout
We know what you’re thinking; trout? Is trout a New Zealand fish? No, no it’s not but, man, do Kiwis love fishing for trout. It wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for hatcheries like that at the Tongariro National Trout Centre, which also has a whole museum dedicated to the introduction of trout fishing in New Zealand. There’s also a freshwater aquarium, a kids’ fishing pond and a blue duck (whio) conservation centre. The Tongariro National Trout Centre is near the town of Turangi, which you can learn more about in the 12 Best Things to Do in Turangi.
Location: 257 State Highway 1, Rangipo, Waikato.
8. Stand Next to a Giant Carrot Then Play at a Vegetable-Themed Playground
On the other side of the Tongariro volcanoes (which hiking across are unusual things to do on the North Island in themselves, but we thought that would be too obvious), you’ll find a town with a carrot obsession. Ohakune is the “Carrot Capital” and has the oversized carrot to prove it. Not only that, but the attraction has grown into the “Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park” with more giant vegetables and a carrot car. See more ways to experience the carrot town in the 16 Best Things to Do in Ohakune.
Location: 4a Rangataua Road, Ohakune, Manawatu-Whanganui.
9. Do a Great Walk That’s Not Actually a Walk
That’s right, the North Island is home to the only New Zealand Great Walk, a series of multi-day hikes considered the best in New Zealand, that actually involves very little walking. The Whanganui Journey is a canoe journey where you paddle up to 145km (90 miles) along a river that, fun fact, is the only river in the world with the status of a living entity, i.e. the same rights as a human!
Location: Between Taumarunui and Pipiriki, Manawatu-Whanganui.
10. Knock on the Door of a Hobbit Hole
Finally, although it’s one of the most visited attractions on the North Island, there’s no denying that the Hobbiton Movie Set is also one of the most unusual things to do on the North Island. Take a tour of the undulating sheep field turned movie set for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The set is preserved to look like a real-life Hobbit village full of mesmerising detail right down to the Green Dragon Tavern where you can get yourself a drink. Find out more about Hobbiton on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook or KKday, as well as how to get a discount here.
Location: 501 Buckland Road, Matamata, Waikato.
More Unique and Unusual Things to Do on the North Island
That’s it for our guide to the most unique and unusual things to do on the North Island. For more weirdness, check out the following articles: