Twin Coast Discovery Highway

Auckland - Northland - Auckland

The Twin Coast Discovery Highway is an 800km circular touring route which starts and finishes in Auckland and is ideal for self-drive visitors.

TCD logoNorthland’s Twin Coast experience is one of contrasts: the sophistication of the East Coast including the Bay of Islands and Whangārei; the West Coast’s ancient forests; and the Top of the North - New Zealand’s ‘real far north’ encompassing Doubtless Bay, 90 Mile Beach and at its farthest point Cape Reinga, a place of intense spiritual significance to Māori. The Twin Coast Discovery Highway takes it all in, and connects you with the region’s profound mystique.

Travel the Twin Coast Discovery Highway to reach the iconic lighthouse at the top of New Zealand. 

Northland Journeys

Twin Coast Discovery

Download a map of the Northland region highlighting the Twin Coast Discovery Highway, airports and i-SITE Visitor Centres.

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Twin Coast Discovery Suggested Itinerary

  • DAY 1: Auckland - Opononi
    • Travel across the river plain to Matakohe’s Kauri Museum, where you’ll discover the important kauri tree history.
    • In the villages of Maungaturoto and Paparoa you can explore antique and craft shops.
    • Continue on to Dargaville; enjoy a bite to eat and perhaps a rail car journey before exploring the final leg of the Kauri Coast.
    • You may choose to visit NZ's longest drivable beach, Ripiro Beach. Stop off at the stunning Kai Iwi Lakes. 
    • Discover the Waipoua Forest - home to the majestic Tane Mahuta, Lord of the Forest. It's the largest kauri tree in the world, and is 2000 years old. A guided tour with a Māori guide is the best way to experience this forest.
    • Continue on to the Hokianga Harbour, where Māori first arrived in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Look out to the stunning sand dunes which after a short ferry ride you could be sandboarding down. 
  • DAY 2: Opononi - Ahipara
    • Make your way north through the fishing village of Rawene. Stop off and see the art galleries and enjoy a coffee at the Boatshed Café.
    • Take the car ferry to Kohukohu and journey through yesteryear, taking in rural New Zealand countryside on your way north to Ahipara.
    • Shipwreck Bay is aptly named as it was the site of the sinking of many ships, the wrecks of which are still visible at low tide. Close by is the Ahipara Gumfields Historic reserve and the remnants of ancient kauri forests.
    • Ahipara is a popular camping spot - other accommodation options include motels, bed and breakfast accommodation and self-contained holiday homes or units.
  • DAY 3: Kaitaia - Cape Reinga - Doubtless Bay
    • Kaitaia is the main centre for the 'subtropical' north. From here you can arrange a coach tour to Cape Reinga or catch a bus trip along Ninety Mile Beach.
    • Make the trip to the Cape Reinga lighthouse at the very top of the North Island (1.5 hours' drive from Awanui). The Cape is of great spiritual importance to Māori, who believe it is the jumping off point for the souls of their departed loved ones making their way back to their mythical homeland of Hawaiki.
    • Head to the stunning Doubtless Bay and enjoy dinner at the Mangonui Fish Shop.
  • DAY 4: Doubtless Bay - Kerikeri
    • The road leading into Kerikeri is bordered by orchards. Roadside stalls offer the chance to buy seasonal fruit.
    • Look for signs showing the way to artists’ studios. Resident potters and painters have given this district a creative personality.
    • In Kerikeri you’ll find galleries, cafes and vineyards, gourmet food shops, several golf courses and historic sites such as the Stone Store and the Mission House.
    • There are superb bush walks in the area – Rainbow Falls is a perfect picnic spot.
  • DAY 6: Bay of Islands
    • The resort town of Paihia makes an excellent base for exploring the Bay of Islands.
    • Catch a cruise to the outer islands, go on a dolphin swimming safari, or take a ferry to the charming township of Russell.
    • Māori language, culture, stories and traditions are strong in Northland and you will see evidence of this throughout the region. Whether in an intricate bone or pounamu (greenstone) carving, Māori pou (carved wooden posts), visual shows, museums, historic sites or waka trips, Māoritanga is a significant part of life in Northland. 
  • DAY 7: Whangarei - Auckland
    • Whangārei is Northland’s largest city and is the gateway to two stunning paradises including the Whangārei Heads and Tutukaka Coast.
    • The Whangārei Heads' scenic drive winds through pohutukawa-fringed bays with stunning views of the areas distinctive volcanic outcrops; 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.

Twin Coast Discovery Navigation Map

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