Whangārei & Tutukaka Coast

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)

  • Hidden gems
    • 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
    • Quirkiest 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
  • Dining

    Pair pizzas with craft beer, seafood with a view over the water, and great coffee with your bacon and eggs. Discover divine handmade bagels and delicious raw and vegan treats and meals. Do what the locals do and grab the iconic kiwi takeaway meals of fish and chips, wrapped up and eaten by the water or in a park. Finish up with ice cream, made from New Zealand's finest cream and fruits, in a cone. 

    The Whangarei Town Basin and City Centre has plenty of superb dining options, from fine dining to 'pub grub', cafes and bars, to international cuisines. 

    Coastal spots like Tutukaka, Bream Bay and Whangarei Heads have seaside dining and relaxed eateries.

    Food, Wine & Markets

  • Shopping

    The city is compact and mostly flat, and everywhere within the central city is within walking distance. The retail heart of the city is an attractive pedestrian mall, and retail chain store shopping is available at Okara and Tarewa shopping centres. The picturesque town basin offers boutique shopping including locally made craft and art.

    Markets Art Galleries

  • Getting there
    • Whangārei city is approximately two hours’ drive north of Auckland
    • Whangārei Airport is an easy 10 minute drive from Whangārei town centre
    • Approximate flight time is 35 minutes from Auckland
    • Taxis and rental cars are available

      Transport options  
  • Northland Journeys

    Discover the Northland Journeys in Whangarei

    Where Giants Gather journeys through a landscape where giants of geology, nature and history are gathered.

    Into the Wide Blue Yonder follows the circular coastal route along the beautiful Tutukaka Coast

    The Secret Coast Route traverses the seemingly forgotten coastal roads that connect the Bay of Islands and Whangārei. 

    View Where Giants Gather View Into the Wide Blue Yonder View the Secret Coast Route

Whangārei & Tutukaka Coast

Must dos

→ A boat trip to the world-renowned Poor Knights Islands
→ Whangārei Town Basin and Hatea Loop Walkway
→ Te Kakano folly at the Town Basin
→ Quarry Gardens, historically fascinating/botanically captivating
→ The picturesque Otuihau / Whangārei Falls
→ Walk or hike on one of the many coastal & forest tracks walks

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Towns & Villages

  • Whangārei City and Town Basin

    Northland’s only city, Whangārei has an attractive pedestrian mall at its heart, 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.

    The Town Basin and its picturesque marina is a great destination to begin your discovery of the arts and crafts of Whangārei. It is home to the city's largest art collection at the Whangārei Art Museum, and the soon to open Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairua Māori Art Gallery. A number of talented artists exhibit in other galleries and shops in the area. Tours of the city also depart from here. 

    Clapham’s National Clock Museum, with its quirky collection, and Kiwi North’s nocturnal kiwi house are popular attractions and great wet weather options. Just a little north of the city and due to open soon is the Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary, home to a variety of endangered big cats. 

    Food, Wine & Markets

  • 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. 

  • Ngunguru, Matapouri and Tutukaka

    The coastal village of Ngunguru is nestled on the shores of an estuary and offers safe swimming for children. Tutukaka provides great dining and accommodation options and is the launching point for visits to the Poor Knights Islands. 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.  

  • Whangārei Heads and Pataua South

    Whangārei airport is situated in Onerahi, just a few kilometres from the city centre. The foreshore has a children's playground, ramp for boat launching, and kayak access to Matakohe Limestone Island. 

    A drive along the Whangārei Heads road is one of the most scenic road trips imaginable. The road hugs the harbour, meandering by beaches and coves with stunning vistas of the area's distinctive volcanic outcrops. Much of this area are scenic or marine reserves, including the Whangārei Marine Reserve at Reotahi, an excellent place to snorkel and observe the abundant marine life. The road ends at the beautiful white sands of Ocean Beach, or at Pataua South, a remote village with sheltered estuary, and ocean-side surf beaches. The pedestrian bridge at Pataua South provides walking access to Pataua North but there is no road for vehciles. The whole peninsula is a wonderland and taking some time out here is a must do. 

    Hiking is a top activity here too. Climb Mount Manaia which towers 460m above the harbour entrance; its dramatic rock peaks are steeped in Māori legend. Te Whara Track is a challenging five-hour hike that follows an ancient Māori trail through coastal forest and has breathtaking views. Both hikes are rated in Department of Conservations top short and day hikes. 

    Whangārei Heads also has a vibrant arts community, with regular events held throughout the year.

  • Waipu, Ruakaka & Bream Bay

    Bream Bay is 22 kilometres of white sand and blue waters and includes Waipū Cove, Langs Beach, Uretiti, and Ruakākā. These beaches are popular for walking, swimming, surfing, kitesurfing and surfcasting. There are areas designated for leisure horse riding and Ruakākā Racecourse holds regular meets. 

    Marsden Cove Marina offers great waterside dining, excellent marina and boating facilities, and boats depart here for diving, snorkelling and sightseeing trips. 

    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. In Waipu Caves, discover a galaxy of glowworms and enjoy a short walk to nearby Piroa Falls.  

  • 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. The area also offers superb water sports, safe swimming, a world class 18-hole championship golf course and a fabulous museum that tells the amazing history of the region.

    The Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway offers panoramis views, an on clear days you can see Coromandel peninsula in the distance. Afterwards, grab a cold drink or tasty meal at the historic Mangawhai Tavern, the best location to catch live music by both local bands and bigger Kiwi names. 


  • 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 place to stop and enjoy art, subtropical gardens and refreshments. 

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