A place of adventure, culture and natural beauty, Whangārei is known for its passionate people, stunning scenery and opportunities to connect with the land, sea and forest.
Whangārei Te Terenga Paraoa, Tutukaakaa | Whangārei & Tutukaka Coast
Whangārei is a thriving city with a vibrant arts community; quayside in the heart of the city is a popular haven for cruising yachts. Only 30 minutes’ drive north east of Whangārei is the Tutukaka Coast, the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve. Bream Bay offers estuaries, rare wild life refuges, native bush tracks, fishing, offshore islands, safe swimming and surf breaks. Whangārei Te Terenga Paraoa = The Gathering Place of the Whales, Tutukaakaa/Tutukaka = Tutu (mischievous), Kaakaa (native parrot)
- Northland Journey - Where Giants Gather touring route from the Whangārei Town Basin to Whangārei Heads
- Northland Journey - Into the Wide Blue Yonder touring route from Whangārei Falls to Tutukaka and on to Hikurangi
- Talented local artists of Whangārei Heads, many of whom open their studios to visitors
- Quirky clocks in the southern hemisphere at Clapham’s National Clock Museum
- Strange medical memorabilia and moa bones and a live kiwi house at Kiwi North
- There are many superb dining options in the Whangārei district
- Quayside at the Town Basin offers picturesque dining set aside the marina
- CBD offers a range of dining options from cafés to ‘pub grub’ and international cuisine
- Coastal spots including Parua Bay, Tutukaka and Bream Bay also have seaside dining and relaxed eateries,
- At the heart of the city centre is an attractive shopping mall, with creative copper trees among the greenery and a unique timeline cast in a series of bronze plaques that tell the local history as you wander through
- Shoppers have plenty of options including department stores, designer boutiques, artisan food stores and local art
- Shops and galleries at the Town Basin showcase outstanding works of art and craft from local and national artists. Enjoy specialty shopping including treats like handmade fudge and jewellery handcrafted by a master.
- Getting there
Towns & Villages
Whangārei Central and Town Basin
Northland’s only city, Whangārei, provides a buoyant retail centre, art galleries, museums, restaurants, cafés and bars. Follow the Hatea Loop Walkway - by foot or by bike; it’s all weather and wheel-chair friendly. Enjoy the sculptures and heritage trails, kids’ playground and international award winning lifting-bridge Te Matau ā Pohe which is a type of bascule bridge that levers open at noon every day and has won many international awards for its unique design. Clapham’s National Clock Museum and Kiwi North’s nocturnal kiwi house are popular attractions and great wet weather options.
The Poor Knights Islands – Marine Reserve
Twenty three kilometres off the Tutukaka Coast is the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, an international icon which has been rated by many including the late Jacques Cousteau, famous ocean explorer, as one of the top ten dive spots in the world. The water is known for its clarity and abundance of sea life. A dive at the Poor Knights is considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience but even non-divers will leave with unforgettable memories after snorkelling, stand up boarding and kayaking in this pristine and spectacular aquatic environment.
Follow the Into the Wide Blue Yonder touring route from Whangārei Falls to Tutukaka, one of the Northland Journeys to start you journey out to the Poor Knights Islands.
Ngunguru, Matapouri and Tutukaka
The coastal village of Ngunguru is nestled on the shores of an estuary and offers safe swimming for children. The white sand beach of Matapouri and neighbouring Whale Bay are stunning, and linked by an easy walkway. Sandy Bay is the epicentre of the region’s surfing scene. Tutukaka provides great dining and accommodation options and is the launching point for visits to the Poor Knights Islands from the purpose-built marina. Enjoy the Northland Journey, Into the Wide Blue Yonder, which brings you out to this unmissable part of Northland.
Whangārei Heads is an end point on the Northland Journey, Where Giants Gather, which stretches from Whangārei. A place of spiritual and historic significance, the scenic drive winds through pohutukawa fringed bays with stunning views of the area’s distinctive volcanic outcrops before the road ends at the wild and beautiful Ocean Beach. Mount Manaia towers 460m above the harbour entrance and its dramatic rock peaks are steeped in Māori legend. Whangārei Heads has a vibrant arts community, with regular events held throughout the year.
Waipu, Ruakaka & Bream Bay
Waipu Village is rich in Scottish heritage, and boasts a delightful range of arts and crafts stores and cafés, as well as the Waipu Museum which tells the amazing story of one of the world’s greatest migrations. Ruakaka is known for water sports and the Ruakaka Racecourse where the turf meets the surf; and Bream Bay for the giant arc of white sand shaped by the Pacific Ocean.
Mangawhai and Mangawhai Heads
Situated on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway, Mangawhai is just 90 minutes from Auckland’s city centre and overlooks the upper reaches of the Hauraki Gulf. There are two parts to Mangawhai, the Heads and the Village, which nestle around this long waterway surrounded by sand dunes on the seaward side and pohutukawa trees on the other.
A classic Kiwi seaside destination, you will discover white sandy beaches, beautiful walkways, sand dunes, and a wildlife sanctuary. Superb water sports, safe swimming, a world class 18-hole championship golf course and a museum, along with the historical Mangawhai Tavern ensure there is always something to do.
Oakura, Helena Bay and Mimiwhangata
Take a detour off the Twin Coast Discovery Highway at Whakapara, and you will arrive at an isolated coastal paradise, including Oakura, Helena Bay, and Mimiwhangata Coastal Park. The road from Oakura to Helena Bay is part of the Northland Journey, The Secret Coast Route, which runs from Russell to Helena Bay. Along this backroad, The Gallery & Café Helena Bay Hill is a great find.