A road trip to Northland is one of the most popular things to do from Auckland. Whangarei is located just over two hours from our Takapuna rental car office, while Paihia is located about another hour north from there. Remember to book your car rental in advance over busy periods such as summer, long weekends and school holidays.
Twin Coast Highway
Tour both coastlines of Northland in your rental car, it’s New Zealand’s warmest region with plenty of beaches and marine life. The Twin Coast Discovery Highway is an 800km circular touring route which starts and finishes in Auckland and is ideal for self-drive visitors as there are plenty of things to see and do along the way and best taken over 5 days.
The Whangarei falls are a picturesque 26.3 metre high curtain waterfall located in the Whangarei Scenic Reserve. The waterfall is part of the Hatea River and a popular swimming spot in the area. There are two viewing platforms above the waterfall, giving spectacular views of the falls and a birds eye view of the forest below. There is a loop walk around the waterfall, down one side, crosses a footbridge at the bottom and back up the other side.
New Zealand History
Discover New Zealand’s most historic site at the Waitangi treaty grounds. Explore the two new contemporary museums, Te Rau Aroha, Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, the carving studio, the Treaty House, Te Whare Rūnanga (Carved Meeting House), traditional Māori waka taua (war canoes) and enjoy a full programme of tours and cultural performances.
Poor Knights Islands
The Poor Knights Islands are a group of islands 23 kilometres off the coast of Tutukaka and washed by warm currents of the Coral Sea. The 11 million year old islands are abundant with plants, animal and fish life in a myriad of drop offs, caves, arches and tunnels. All boats cater for non-divers, so you can go sightseeing, kayaking, snorkelling and stand-up paddle boarding. The boat is well fitted-out, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, upstairs viewing, plenty of facilities and the fabulous “fish camera” with live underwater shots beamed right into the boat. You don’t even have to get wet to see the fish.
Explore the top of the North Island
Take a road trip right up to Cape Reinga where you can see the light house and the Pacific ocean and Tasman Sea collide. Along the way take a ride down the Te Paki Sand dunes standing 150 metres high and are the highest in the Southern Hemisphere or visit Ninety mile beach boasting spectacular sunsets, swimming and surfcasting.
Waipoua Forest on Northland’s West coast has some of the best preserved Kauri Forest in New Zealand. It is also home to Tane Mahuta, also named “The Lord of the Forest” approx 2000 years old and Te Matua Ngahere estimated to be 2500 to 3000 years old, these are the largest living Kauri trees in the country.
Cruise the Bay of Islands
Explore the stunning region and it’s 144 islands. There are a range of boat cruises like the famous Hole in the Rock where you can keep an eye out for wild dolphins and whales as we cruise out through the islands to Cape Brett and the famous Hole in the Rock.
Jump on a ferry to Otahei Bay on Urupukapuka Island, it’s an island paradise and one of the most accessible Islands. Experience the recreational reserve full of birdlife, native bush and walking tracks. Swim at the safe secluded beaches, go for a walk, hire a kayak or perhaps enjoy lunch, dinner or a cold drink from our fully licensed café.
The Whangarei Heads area is a habitat for kiwi, wood pigeon, the native flax snail – pupuharakeke, bats, skinks, geckos, several bird species from offshore islands like kaka, kakariki (red-crowned parakeet) and bellbird.
Hike through regenerating native bush to the summit of Mount Manaia rewarding you with breath-taking views of the dramatic entrance to the Whangārei Harbour.
Walk the Smugglers Bay Loop track with coastal forest, spectacular views and WWII gun emplacements as well – there is plenty to keep kids interested on this short, easy walk.
KeriKeri Mission Station
Visit the Kerikeri Misssion Station, established in 1819 it was one of the first places in New Zealand where Maori welcomed visitors to live among them. At the heart of the Mission Station are two of the country’s oldest buildings; the Stone Store built in 1832 in a Georgian style and Kemp House finished in 1822 set behind the Stone store are both historical and essential sights for heritage-lovers.
Photo by Linde Lanjouw on Unsplash