Kiwi North is home to a Nocturnal Kiwi House with live kiwi, morepork and native gecko as well as a museum with Maori Taonga and early settler displays and natural history collections. Plus the exciting new 'Moa Bones Collection'
Nearby Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre is an interesting visit too – with “tame” rescued birds around the place with cute names and personalities.
If you make the time – you’ll be well rewarded with a fun and interactive visit to Claphams National Clock Museum in the Town Basin – with around 1400 clocks, its largest collection of clocks and timepieces in the southern hemisphere.
Go to the Beach
Whether you are looking for a rolling surf beach or calm inner coastal waters within a short drive from Whangarei you can be having some free water fun!
Learn to surf at the local surf school, or take a guided kayak tour to get you up river, into caves and around the coast and harbour. From the City Centre though you can paddle or peddle up the river.
Further North the Tutukaka Coast offers some of Northland finest beaches, and is the base from where you can explore The Poor Knights Islands. Diving, Snorkelling and canoeing allows some discovery family fun.
For a little more adventure
At Adventure Forest let the kids get rid of a bit of steam by climbing on amazing circuits rigged from tree to tree where they can grab a rope, jump, roll or swing in the air to reach the next platform, Zip wire, Spider Web, Tarzan Jump, Pirate's Net, Dizzy Bridge, Crazy Swings, and of course many Flying Fox
Bring your torch and visit the Abbey Caves - three significant caves, naturally sculptured limestone outcrops, bluffs, enclosed depressions and sink holes. Extensive stalagmites, stalactites and glow worms. Waipu Caves also offer a stunning cave adventure in beautiful park-like surrounds.
A favourite Picnic Spot: Whangarei Falls
Bay of Islands
Back to nature
There are some fabulous walks in the Bay of Islands, many of which are very suitable for family groups and free! The Paihia to Opua Coastal Walkway, The Haruru Falls track from Waitangi Treaty Grounds, or venture a little further north to the Puketi Forest and walk the Manginangina Boardwalk.
Fishing either from the rocks or wharfs, or from a charter boats is enormous fun, as is cruising on a vessel hoping to see Dolphins, parasailing up high, horse trekking or exploring the rock pools around the coast.
A favourite Picnic Spot: Long Beach in Russell
A bit weird & wonderful
Internationally renowned artist and architect Frederick Hundertwassers last public work was a toilet in the small town of Kawakawa. Certainly a fascinating piece of functional art – and fun for the whole fam
Amaze Space in Kawakawa is a colourful space for kids
Kawakawa is the only town in NZ with a train track through the middle of the main st (S/H1) – restored early 1900’s steam engine Gabriel today pulls carriages and paying passengers on a short scenic ride.
Learn a little
Watch & learn how to make chocolates at the Makana Chocolate factory in Kerikeri – you will get a yummy sample!
Waitangi Treaty Grounds is a family must do – here visitors learn about the signing of our foundation document that took place here in 1840 between Maori and the British Crown. See the world's largest ceremonial war canoe (waka).
Take the kids back in time by visiting one of the many Historic Places and museums in the area. Northland’s history is rich with significant places, consider getting a Historic Places pass and visiting some of the many you will encounter along the way.
For action & Adventure
Action World: There is no other place like this on earth! Literally. Flying Trapeze, High Wire, Tarzan Swings, Jousting Pole, Climbing Wall, X-treme Slide, waterslide and more.
Parasail over the Bay of Islands with Flying Kiwi Parasail. Kids can go tandem with parents. It's awesome!
Doubtless Bay / Far North
Back to nature
The whole area is dotted with stunning beaches for hours of fun water play and gathering shellfish, as well as wharves for fishing, harbours for kayaking and surf breaks for ‘hanging ten’.
So much to do: Get out on horse back, 4wBike or blo-kart on 90 Mile Beach.
Learn a little
Visit an authentic Kauri gum-digging site (Gumdiggers Park) which has remained untouched since gum holes were dug almost one hundred years ago. Learn of the mix of Maori, early European and in particular Dalmatian people and one of the biggest industrial booms in NZ’s past.
One of Northlands hidden treasures – Matthews Vintage Collection. A unique opportunity to view a privately owned collection of vintage cars, tractors and machinery used in farming dating back to the early 1900's.
Beginning and ending at the historic Mangonui Courthouse on the waterfront is the Mangonui Heritage Trail. On the way have a ‘refresher’ in the beautiful old Mangonui Hotel or finish with fresh Fish and Chips on the wharf at the Fish and Chip Shop.
Our Pick: Best ice creams in Northland –Te Kao in the Far North!
Back to nature
Indulge in some swimming and fishing - both of which are huge past times in the Hokianga Harbour. Perhaps sand dune surfing is more your type of family activity - catch the boat across the harbour to the giant sand dunes and indulge in some heart pumping fun!
A visit into Waipoua Forest to view the Kauri Giants will run some energy off the legs of younger ones, and certainly offer an awe-inspiring Forest experience. Easily signposted you can free walk, but a guided forest experience at night to the big trees at Waipoua or to hear the Kiwi at Trounson will be very memorable.
Visit the Labyrinth Woodworks and Maze – a puzzling visit to northlands largest Puzzle collection and through summer months (Dec-April) come and get lost in the Maize maze!
A favourite Picnic Spot: Signal Station Rd lookout over the Hokianga Harbour heads.
Kaipara / Kauri Coast
Back to nature
Kai Iwi lakes – Stunning fresh water lakes perfect for swimming, fishing, kayaking and walking
Baylys Beach – NZ’s longest at 109Kms, a wild west coast beach home to various wildlife, and the shipwrecks of vessels long past.
Get the blood flowing with a climb to one of Kaiparas highest peaks and prominent landmarks – Mt TokaToka. Stunning views across the Kaipara region reward the climber.
A favourite Picnic Spot: at the very top of Mt TokaToka
Learn a litle
Venture into space at Baylys Beach and look at the stars from Astronomy Adventures – suitable for families of all ages (3+)
The Kumara Box – a ‘hard-case’ look at NZ’s Kumera (Sweet potato) industry based in Ruawai – the countrys largest producing region of this diet staple for New Zealanders. Learn more of the vegetable and the work it takes to get from gate to plate – hosted by charismatic Ernie!
The Kauri Museum – Visit this award-winning museum that tells a fascinating story of NZ pioneering days. There are many exceptional displays and dedicated galleries, including a magnificent collection of antique kauri furniture, restored machinery including NZ's earliest tractor, a turning Steam Sawmill and the world's largest collection of kauri gum.