Taitokerau Northland’s twin coast experience is one of contrasts. Starting and finishing in Auckland, this is the ultimate journey for those who want to see, feel, and discover it all.

Beginning at Auckland Airport, the Twin Coast Discovery Highway travels north, tracing both coast to Te Rerenga Wairua Cape Reinga and back. Discover picturesque beaches and aquatic playgrounds, immersive cultural experiences, ancient living forests, and some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most important historical sites.

Twin Coast Discovery Highway
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Taitokerau Northland’s twin coast experience is one of contrasts. Starting and finishing in Auckland, this is the ultimate journey for those who want to see, feel, and discover it all


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7-day Twin Coast Discovery Highway suggested Itinerary

Day 1

Auckland to the Kauri Coast

  • Go treasure hunting in the antique and charity shops of Maungaturoto and Paparoa
  • Discover the important history and stories of the kauri trees and the industry and livelihoods that relied on them at The Kauri Museum
  • Stretch your legs in Dargaville, perhaps exploring via rail cart or visiting the Dargaville Museum or continue on to scenic highlights at Ripiro Beach (the longest drivable beach in Aotearoa New Zealand) or at the crystal-clear Kai Iwi dune lakes.
  • Witness the forest transition from day to night with a guided tour into the Waipoua Forest, home to Tāne Mahuta, Lord of the forest.
  • Rest your head at a campground, boutique lodge or waterfront hotel along the Kauri Coast and Hokianga Harbour

Day 2

Opononi to Ahipara

  • Start your day with an immersive cultural experience at Manea Footprints of Kupe, where you’ll learn about the Māori creation story and the journey of Kupe, the great Polynesian discoverer.
  • Meander on to Rāwene where brunch or lunch awaits at the iconic Boatshed Cafe, followed by perusing the fabulous art galleries both here and at Kohukohu, just a short ferry ride across the harbour. If you desire a little longer on the water, board the Ranui for a history harbour tour.
  • Wind your way through to Ahipara, the southern end of Te Oneroa a Tōhē Ninety Mile Beach. Te Kōhanga Shipwreck Bay is well-known for its excellent surf breaks and the namesake shipwreck in the bay is still visible at low tide.
  • Recharge for the night here after enjoying the spectacular west coast sunset.

Day 3

Kaitaia to Te Rerenga Wairua to Doubtless Bay

  • Kaitaia is the main hub for this region, so if you need to stock up on supplies, this is the place to do so. Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga tours also depart from here.
  • Make the trip to the spiritual northern-most point of the country, Te Rerenga Wairua, where the oceans collide and the spirits of the departed make the leap to return to their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki. Save your lunch for the return trip home, eating at this sacred site should be avoided.
  • If time permits, discover the stunning white sand beaches of Te Hiku o te Ika-a-Māui (the tail of the fish of Māui like Rarawa Beach, Henderson Bay, Rangiputa or those of Doubtless Bay.
  • Wind up at Mangōnui, home of the world-famous Mangōnui Fish Shop and stay for the night in the beach paradise of Doubtless Bay

Day 4

Doubtless Bay to Kerikeri

  • Adventurous souls will enjoy the views of the Whangaroa Harbour from the top of Kaiaraara Rocks (The Duke’s Nose) while others may like to explore the stunning beaches and coastline of Mahinepua Peninsula and Matauri Bay on a coastal detour.
  • Taste the flavours of the north from roadside stalls, wineries and delicious restaurants in and around Kerikeri.
  • Explore some of the historic sites like Kororipo Heritage Park, home to Aotearoa New Zealand’s oldest stone building, the Stone Store.
  • Discover Waianiwaniwa Rainbow Falls and if time permits, wander the walking tracks to find more waterfalls around the area.
  • Toss a coin between staying here among lush orchards and vineyards or along the edge of the Bay of Islands in Waitangi, Paihia or Russell.

Day 5

The Bay of Islands

  • Visit one of the most important historical sites in the country, where Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi) was signed in 1840. With two museums, guided tours, cultural performances, an on-site café, and more, you could spend all day here. Allow a minimum of 3 hours for the highlights.
  • Depart for the islands on a boat cruise or ferry, and explore in, on and around the water by kayak, paddleboard, snorkelling, swimming, sailing, basically any which way you like!
  • Dine in historic and romantic Russell at The Duke of Marlborough which held the country’s first liquor licence, or in any of the eateries serving up fresh local produce and warm hospitality.

Day 6

Russell to Whangārei

  • The coastal route from Russell to Whangārei offers fine scenery, secluded beaches and a hillside cafe worth the windy roads.
  • Turn off at Hikurangi for the Tutukākā Coast, one of the top coastal destinations in the world. Explore the beaches, or board a boat to the Poor Knights Islands, rated one of the top ten dive sites in the world by Jacques Cousteau.
  • Head into Whangārei City Centre to the visit the new Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairau Māori Art Gallery and dine in the picturesque Town Basin.

Day 7

Whangārei to Auckland

  • Whangārei Heads is home to some of Department of Conservation’s best short and day walks including the epic Mount Manaia hike which serves up breath-taking views over the Whangārei Harbour.
  • Waipū is small settlement in Bream Bay with a strong Scottish history, well documented at the award-winning Waipū Museum. Fuel up for the road trip ahead at the McLeod’s Pizza Barn and Brewery, and if it tickles your fancy, a quick dip at Waipū Cove.
  • Mangawhai Heads and Village through to Kaiwaka is a food lover's dream, from chocolatier Bennetts of Mangawhai, the historic Mangawhai Tavern, an epic Cheese Shop and quirky mosaic laden Eutopia Cafe. Stock up before you head home to make your Taitokerau Northland journey linger just a little longer.