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Matauri Bay & Cavalli Islands

© Northland Inc

There are so many interesting little townships and spectacular coastal vistas to while away the journey – so if you’re driving to Northland remember to allow plenty of time.

Self-drive

In total Northland has 6500kms of roads and yes, we drive on the left. State Highway 1 is the main artery through the region but for those of you with more time the slower paced Twin Coast DiscoveryTouring Route is Northland's scenic touring route. At about 800km long the touring route starts and finishes in Auckland and gives you access to all the region has to offer by way of a scenic, relaxing drive. Additional tourist drives join the Highway to extend the scenic journey through Northland. One initiative for travellers to the Northland region is 'On the road recycling'

We’ve put together some approximate driving times and distances along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway to help you plan your trip. Don’t forget there’s plenty to see and experience along the way so allow extra time to stop and take it all in. It pays to allow some time for peak traffic periods getting in and out of Auckland during the busy holiday season and on the weekends. The Northern Gateway Toll Road can cut 15 minutes from your journey to the Northland region but you’ll need to organise payment of the toll – you have 3 days after your trip or you can pay in advance. And if you feel you need a break from driving call in at one of the 11 road side stops for a free coffee hosted by the Northland Road Safety Association and Coffee Brake.

Driving Times (courtesy Google maps)

Twin Coast Discovery Touring RouteTimeDistance in km/miles
Auckland to Wellsford via SH11 hour77km/48miles
Wellsford to Waipu via Mangawhai1 hour53km/33miles
Wellsford to Matakohe45 min54km/34miles
Matakohe to Dargaville40 min44km/27miles
Dargaville to Waipoua Forest45 min57km/35miles
Tane Mahuta to Omapere25 min24km/15miles
Omapere to Rawene25 min24km/15miles
Rawene to Kohukohu (by Hokianga vehicle ferry)15 minFerry
Kohukohu to Kaitaia (via Ahipara)1 hour69km/43miles
Kaitaia to Mangonui35 min37km/24miles
Mangonui to Kerikeri50 min60km/38miles
Kerikeri to Paihia25 min25km/15miles
Paihia to Whangarei direct1 hour70km/44miles
Paihia to Whangarei via Hikurangi & Tutukaka Coastal route2 hours118km/73miles
Whangarei to Wellsford (via Waipu and Mangawhai)1 hour 49 mins94km/58miles

Alternative Tourist Drives (alternative routes)
Whangarei to Dargaville via SH141 hour58km/36miles
Russell to Whangarei via Oakura coastal route1 hour 30 min84km/52miles
Paihia to Omapere via Kaikohe1 hour 20 min94km/58miles
Kohukohu to Kaitaia via Mangamuka Bridge and SH11 hour62km/38miles
Kaikohe to Dargaville via Mangakahia Rd1 hour 15 mins81km/50miles
Matauri Bay and Whangaroa coastal loop road1 hour37km/23miles
Kaitaia to Cape Reinga ONE WAY1 hour 45min111km/70miles

Northern Gateway Toll Road

There is a choice of 3 routes into the Northland region:

  • State Highway 17 through Orewa and the Hibiscus Coast.
  • State Highway 16 through Helensville.
  • The Northern Gateway Toll Road, an extension of State Highway 1, with a one-way toll of $2.30 for cars & motorbikes and $4.70 for heavy vehicles (more than 3.5 tonnes).

The Northern Gateway Toll Road allows easier access, less congestion and reduced travelling times when travelling to the Northland region from Auckland.

The road is mostly four-lane, features clearer sight lines, smoother turns and reduced road gradients, making for a safer drive. The State Highway 1 route between Orewa and Puhoi, is very picturesque but contains winding, narrow sections of road.

There are a variety of ways to pay the toll one of which is electronic tolling meaning travellers can pay at their convenience rather than interrupting their journey.

For all the latest updates on the Northern Gate way Toll Road

Coach Operators

The following companies provide regular services to and from the Northland region:

Ferries

There are 3 short ferry trips available in Northland

  • A passenger service between Paihia and Russell which operators frequently from about 7am each day. Tickets are purchased on board – cash only. Phone (09) 402 7421 for timetable.
  • A vehicle ferry service between between Opua and Okiato en route to Russell, Bay of Islands. Okiato is about 10 minutes drive from Russell, and Opua is about 15 minutes from Paihia. The ferry operates as a shuttle service with daily crossings approximately every 10 minutes from about 6.40am between the hours listed. The ferry is suitable for all vehicles including trucks, buses and campervans. Tickets are purchased on board – cash only. Phone (09) 402 7421 for timetable.
  • A vehicle ferry across the picturesque Hokianga Harbour between Rawene and Kohukohu. The ferry operates as a shuttle service with daily crossings and the passage is about 15 minutes. The ferry is suitable for all vehicles including trucks, buses and campervans. Bookings are not required. Pay on board the vessel using cash, credit cards or Eftpos. Phone Hokianga i-SITE Visitor Information (09) 405 8869 for Timetable and Prices.