Taitokerau Northland is a large region with plenty to do, so don’t miss out on our must-do experiences. These are the places, activities and attractions that make our region truly unique.
Spiritual Te Rerenga Wairua Cape Reinga
Visit the majestic and spiritual top of the country, where Māori believe the spirits of the departed leave the mainland to make the journey back to the ancestral homeland of Hawaiki, by sliding down the roots of the lonely Pohutukawa tree to the underworld. Witness the two oceans collide and take in the breath-taking vistas or wander part of the Te Paki Coastal Track, a multi-day hike around the country’s northern tip. For the best experience, take a guided coach tour which includes a journey along Te Oneroa a Tōhē Ninety Mile Beach.
Other-worldly Te Paki Sand Dunes
The dunes at Te Paki are the most impressive of all the sand dunes in Taitokerau Northland, with some rising up to 150m. Adventurous souls should try their hand at sandboarding, a fun activity for all ages. The dunes are also intriguing, not just for their other-worldly feel, but for their diverse ecosystems that support some rare and endangered species. Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga tours stop at the dunes, and sandboards can also be hired at the dunes.
Tohu Whenua are a collection of landmark sites that tell the stories of Aotearoa New Zealand. There are nine of these sites in Taitokerau Northland, including the first side-by-side settlement of Māori and Pākehā (people of European descent), and the site of the largest signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi), Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding document.
Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail
This is the northern-most of the 22 Great Rides in Aotearoa New Zealand and the only one which connects east coast to west coast. It can be completed in just two days in either direction and crosses a diverse landscape, from suspension bridges and native bush to boardwalks and disused rail corridors. Bicycle and e-bikes can be hired in Ōpua and Kaikohe, and shuttles can be booked too. For a luxury experience book a bespoke multi-day guided tour.
Ancient Kauri Forests
Taitokerau Northland is home to the oldest and largest of the kauri trees, including the Lord of the Forest, Tāne Mahuta. Standing beneath these mighty trees that have watched over the land for generations is an awe-inspiring experience. The lush forests around these magnificent trees are also teeming with wildlife. For an extra special experience, take a guided tour at twilight and witness the forest transition from day to night as you hear the legends, waiata (songs) and stories of the forest.
Thanks to the subtropical climate, Taitokerau Northland produces an excellent variety of delicious food and drink to satiate your tastebuds. The same subtropical climate welcomes alfresco dining, especially in the long summer evenings. Dine overlooking the ocean, on a hillside above the vineyards, or simply picnic in the picturesque countryside. Don’t miss the open-air farmers and growers’ markets, held weekly around the region.
Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is an aquatic playground that shouldn’t be underestimated. There is an endless array of activities, all designed to experience the joy and beauty of the islands, from boat cruises to sailing trips, snorkelling experiences, and kayaking adventures. With over 140 islands, exploring on land is a must as well. The largest of them, Urupukapuka Island is easily accessible via ferry and boasts a fully licenced café as well as three bookable Department of Conservation campsites.
Legendary Māori Experiences
Taitokerau Northland is where the story of Aotearoa New Zealand began, where over 1000 years ago the great Polynesian explorer Kupe landed on the shores and named this place. Visitor experiences in Taitokerau Northland tell the story of Kupe’s journey, the Māori creation story for how the world came to be, and the history of how Aotearoa New Zealand’s two peoples, Māori and Pākehā (people of European descent) came together.
The Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve was rated one of the top ten dive sites in the world by Jacques Cousteau, and for good reason. Scuba divers and snorkellers are treated to spectacular displays of schools of fish, and the varied marine life that transits through the islands is plentiful. The Poor Knights Islands are also home to the largest sea cave in the world, Rikoriko Cave. For avid divers, numerous other wrecks including the famous Rainbow Warrior make for stunning diving. Dive boats and charters run regularly from Tutukākā and the Bay of Islands.
Whangārei Art Scene
The Whangārei Town Basin and Hātea Loop in Whangārei is home to the iconic Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery, as well as the Whangārei Art Museum, which have cemented Whangārei’s reputation as a vibrant art destination. Don’t miss the Afforested Roof of the Hundertwasser Art Centre building and if it leaves you wanting more, take time to explore the sculpture trail on the Hātea Loop Walk, and the Street Prints Manaia street art trail through the city centre.
All over the region, untouched nature and wide-open spaces will stun and surprise you. Otuihau Whangārei Falls and Waianiwaniwa Rainbow Falls are both must-visit spots. Beautiful beaches are found all over the region but are exceptionally glorious in places like the Karikari Peninsula and the Tutukākā Coast. The Kai Iwi Lakes shine a spectacular shade of blue against the white sand, and you could spend days meandering through lush parks, dense forests, and scenic coastal reserves.
Hiking and Walking
Some of the best views of the region are found on foot and thanks to the mild climate in Taitokerau Northland, walking and hiking are a year-round activities. Whangārei Heads is a hiking hot spot, with Te Whara Track and Mount Manaia both rated by the Department of Conservation in the top best day hikes and short walks in Aotearoa New Zealand. Mangawhai Cliffs Walk also joins the list. Enthusiastic hikers shouldn’t look past the Kaiaraara Rock (Duke’s Nose) track in the Far North or Cape Brett track in the Bay of Islands.