Northland & Bay of Islands

The subtropical Northland region of New Zealand stretches upwards from Auckland to the very top of New Zealand. Take a journey along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway to the iconic Bay of Islands, as well as the Kauri Coast, the Far North, and Whangarei.

Don't miss these activities when you visit Northland and the Bay of Islands.

Mangawhai and Bream Bay Coast:

Enjoy the myraid of beaches and bays on the Mangawhai and Bream Bay Coast.

  • Saddle up your boogie board for the longest string of surf beaches you've ever seen.
  • Try horse trekking along the beach at Pakiri.
  • Check out Waipu, the original settlement for five shiploads of Scottish people in 1850. Their story is told at the Waipu Museum.

Whangarei for excellent cafes, art and lions:

  • Explore the Whangarei Town Basin with its cafes, art galleries and New Zealand's national clock museum.
  • Whangarei Falls are a picturesque picnic spot.

Tututaka for surf, diving and big game fishing:

Take the road from Whangarei to the sheltered natural harbour of Tutukaka and the beautiful beaches beyond.

  • Tutukaka is the gateway to great diving, snorkelling and kayaking experiences at the famous Poor Knights Islands - a wildlife marine reserve above the water and a marine reserve below.
  • Big game and line fishing trips depart from Tutukaka wharf.
  • Sandy Bay is famous for its world-class surfing.
  • Walk to beautiful Whale Bay - the track begins just north or Matapouri.

Explore the beauty of the Bay of Islands:

The Bay of Islands is an aquatic playground lavishly furnished with 144 islands and a myraid of secluded beaches.

  • Try swimming with dolphins, sailing, big game fishing or kayaking.
  • Choose between a sedate 'Hole in the Rock' cruise or an exciting speed boat ride to the tip of Cape Brett
  • Visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, establishing New Zealand as a nation of the British Empire.
  • Catch an authentic kapa haka performance at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds Visitors Centre.
  • Take the ferry from Paihia to Russell and explore the historic streets of New Zealand's first capital.
  • Look around Pompallier in Russell, a Catholic missionary house made from rammed earth.
  • Walk to Haruru Falls. Here, the water falls in a horse-shoe shape - very rare and quite spectacular.
  • Enjoy an overnight cruise or a dinner cruise.

History, art and fruit in Kerikeri:

Kerikeri is in the Bay of Islands and is a fascinating, friendly town with a local community of orchardists and artists.

  • On the way to Kerikeri, take a break in Kawakawa and visit the famous 'Hundertwasser' toilets.
  • View New Zealand's oldest European buildings - the Stone Store and Mission House.
  • Follow the art and craft trail and watch the artisans at work.
  • Call into wineries, a boutique chocolate factory and a natural cosmetic factory.
  • See kiwis in their natural environment at Aroha Island Eco Centre.

Luxury and marine adventures in Matauri Bay and Whangaroa Harbour:

Whangaroa Harbour reveals another treasure trove of beautiful, secluded beaches and  world-class game-fishing outside the Harbour.

  • Organise marlin fishing from Whangaroa township.
  • Matauri Bay is the final resting place of the Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior - you can dive the wreck.
  • Spend a luxurious day at Kauri Cliffs Golf Club and Lodge.

Beach perfection in Doubtless Bay:

Considered by many to be the ultimate Northland destination, the Doubtless Bay area has beaches of every description. 

  • Explore the quaint fishing village of Mangonui - famous for its fish and chips.
  • For excellent fishing, diving and swimming, discover Coopers Beach, Cable Bay, Taipa Tokerau Beach, Maitai Bay and many others.
  • Enjoy a round of golf and a winery visit at Karikari Peninsula.

The top of New Zealand:

Take a tour up Ninety Mile Beach on your way to the northernmost point of New Zealand and watch the Tasman Sea collide with the Pacific Ocean. 

  • Walk up to Cape Reinga Lighthouse, which sits on a steep headland 290 metres above the sea. The lighthouse marks the tumultuous meeting point of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
  • Cape Reinga is the 'place of leaping'. According to Maori legend, departing souls leap into the ocean from a gnarled pohutukawa tree and journey back to the ancestral land of Hawaiki.
  • Take a tour along the sand of NInety Mile Beach, a driveable beach that is actually only 60 miles long (96 kilometres).

Soul searching in Hokianga:

The Hokianga Harbour is serenely beautiful, with a hint of magic about it. It's a place of historical importance, for both Maori and European.

  • Rawene is a charming historical township. Visit Clendon House for an insight into early colonial life. 
  • The attractive beaches of Opononi and Omapere were made famous in the mid 1950s by the tame dolphin 'Opo', who used to swim with people.
  • There are huge white sand dunes to explore, across from the wharf at Opononi. You can surf down them on a body board.
  • Visit the unique rock formation at Wairere Boulders in Horeke and nearby, the Mangungu Mission House (1839) is where the largest group of signatories to the Treat of Waitangi gathered.
  • Well-maintained tracks in the Waipoua Forest allow you to visit giant kauri trees, including the largest kauri in the world - Tane Mahuta (God of the Forest), which is estimated to be 1400 years old. You might consider a guided night tour into the forest.

Adventure on the Kauri Coast:

The Kauri Coast is an outdoor playground with a fascinating history.

  • Discover the sand lakes at Kai Iwi - safe swimming, boating and a spot of trout fishing. 
  • From the main centre of Dargaville you can take a tour along Ripiro Beach (New Zealand's beach) or visit the Shipwreck Museum.
  • Call into the Kauri Museum at Matakohe and find out about kauri logging and gum digging.