Auckland to Northland, Hidden Gems on a kiwi roadie

North of Auckland you would find yourself in the Northland region. Northland is in New Zealand’s far north, away from the big city life apart from Whangarei. There are not many cities in this part of New Zealand, but it does have amazing small towns, coasts, and beaches.

Things to do in The far north

Tasman sea and Pacific ocean meet
The Pacific ocean meets and Tasman sea
  • At the top of the North Island, you will find yourself in Cape Reinga, which is located right at the point where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet. From the lighthouse, you can actually see the point where the two seas meet and their waves crash into each other but don’t mix.
  • Go sanduning, Located 17 km from Cape Reinga, at the end of the Te Paki Stream Road, are the majestic Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes.
  • Check out the beaches
    90 Mile Beach
    Tapotupotu Bay:  A little hidden piece of paradise. 5km south of Cape Reinga off State Highway 1 down Toputaputu Road.
    Kaimaumau Beach: This is a lovely little “secret” spot that seems to be only known by a few locals. It’s a stunning white sand beach that is ideal for fishing and swimming.
    Rarawa Beach: With windswept dunes, rolling waves and pure sand – this beach is breathtaking.
  • Visit Spirits Bay. This Bay is sacred to the local Maori. A stunning location to visit.
  • Pukenui
  • Rawarawa Beach
  • Houhora Harbour

Things to do in the Karikari Peninsula

  • If you love beaches, being with family and being outdoors or fishing, this is the perfect little place to visit. Each beach has a unique characteristic, some with fine white sand, such as Matai Bay and Rangiputa, to rugged rocky coastline perfect for surfing. Tokerau Beach is perfect for kite surfing and yachting also great for wave surfing when the wind and tides are right. If you’re lucky you may even see some seals hanging out on the beach.
  • Puheke Beach: White sand dunes and Mt Puheke, with its amazing views.
  • Whatuwhiwhi: This small town has a peaceful setting and is known for its beautiful beaches and bays looking over views of Doubtless Bay to Mangonui on one side, and on the other, across Karikari and Rangaunu Bays to the Houhora Head. The clear waters in this area make it great to go diving, and if your lucky you may even see Dolphins and blue penguins.
  • Rotopokaka (Coca Cola) Lake, yes that’s right, the colour of the lake is like Coca Cola, hence the name. The area is surrounded by a lot of peat which is what gives it that colour and apparently the lake water is safe to drink, the water is also supposedly good for your skin and hair, kinda like magical water!
  • Taupo Bay
  • Northland is well known for its’s kauri trees, and near to Karikari Peninsula, you’ll find gumdiggers park.

Things to do in the Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is made up of 144 Islands, WOW! and a handful of historic towns. The scenery, golden beaches, and fresh seafood make it such an amazing place to visit. It is a popular destination for big-game fishing and water sports from kayaking to parasailing. The Bay of Islands is also home to several historical attractions such as the Mission House and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

  • Kawakawa: also known as the Train town of the north, the nearby Kawiti Glow-worm Caves at Waiomio, just 5 km south of Kawakawa and definitely worth a visit. You’ll see a galaxy of glow-worm lights and pure white limestone formations that are thousands of years in the making
  • Whangaruru (Puriri Bay)

Things to do in Tutukaka

  • Matapouri Beach is one of the top 10 in New Zealand, clear blue ocean, white sand, it’s very picturesque, also near Matapouri is Whale Bay
  • Poor knights Island, of the coast of Matapouri 24 km offshore is the Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve, the water is much warmer which attracts tropical fish, it is a must visit destination for divers and snorkelers.
  • Oakura Bay
  • Tutukaka Coast
  • Visit Ngunguru
  • Walk to the Tutukaka lighthouse: A 1-hour return walk is a must-do to get some awesome views of the Tutukaka Coast and of the Poor Knights Islands.
  • Tane Moana Walkway: See the largest kauri tree on the east coast, Tane Moana. The kauri measures 11m in circumference and is an incredible sight! The 4-hour return walk starts on a wide track across farmland into the native forest where the path narrows taking you through gullies and streams.
Matapouri Beach

Things to do in Kerikeri

  • Rainbow falls: The 27m falls is an impressive sight captured from several different angles. Stand above the waterfall from the platforms just a short walk from the Waipapa Road car park. You can also walk down to the base of the falls and even scramble behind them if you are feeling adventurous.
  • Kerikeri river track: nature + walking lovers rejoice, Follow the Kerikeri River. There are two waterfalls to check out, Wharepuke and Rainbow Falls, as well as some old hydro-dams and the historic Kemp House and Stone Store
  • Aroha Island: This is an amazing little place for adventure lovers, full of walking tracks or hire a kayak to explore the mangroves and native bush. Go kiwi spotting on affordable night walks or enjoy the other native birds seen throughout the day.
  • Wharepuke falls: Accessed from the Kerikeri River Track.
  • Haruru Falls

Things to do in Hokianga

On the west coast of the top of the North Island, you’ll find yourself in Hokianga, best known for its large Kauri forests.

  • Waiotemarama waterfall
  • Sandboard at north head
  • Waipoua forest: Just before reaching the Hokianga Harbour, State Highway 12 goes through the Waipoua Forest, home to two of New Zealand’s largest trees, Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere. they are more than 2000 years old;
    Tane Mahuta Walk (5 minutes one way)
    Te Matua Ngahere (20 minutes one way)
    Four Sisters Walk (10 minutes one way)
    This walk is to a boardwalk surrounding 4 kauri trees.
    Lookout Track (1 hour one way)
    For a longer hike, start from the Waipoua Visitor Centre and make your way to the lookout with views over the forest and out to the coast.
    Yakas Walk (40 minutes one way)
    The first stretch of this walk is to Cathedral Grove with a whole group of kauri, then make your way to the 7th largest kauri in the Waipua Forest, the Yakas tree.

Things to do in the Kauri Coast

The Kauri Coast is a dramatic stretch of Kauri forest and picturesque beaches on the Northern West Coast of the North Island.

Kai Iwi lake
  • Visit lake Kai Iwi
  • Wairere Boulders – a unique valley of boulders is up to 2.8 million years old
  • Ripiro Beach – Ripiro is New Zealand’s longest drivable beach and its 107-km stretch is backed by high, golden sand dunes. It is also the site of many shipwrecks.
  • Trounson Kauri Park – Enjoy a taste of Middle Earth in this pristine kauri forest reserve. Its kauri trees are considered the best collection in New Zealand and the park is home to many threatened species including the North Island brown kiwi.
  • Tokatoka Peak – This outlandish mountain is actually the plug of a volcano situated near the edge of the Wairoa River in Northland. The climb is short and very steep, but the views are amazing.

Things to do in Paihia

  • Walk to Waitangi: The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. From Paihia you can walk to the treaty grounds. Turn left at the visitor centre in Paihia and follow the beach and coastline for about 45 minutes. You’ll then see the famous Te Ti Marae, which Maori chiefs used to discuss signing the treaty. Get your ticket here.
  • Take a ferry to New Zealand first capital city Russell for only $12. On the ferry ride to Russell, you’ll get to see most of the small islands that create the Bay Of Islands. The ride back on the ferry, you will get to experience the cheapest sunset cruise in New Zealand 😀
  • Haruru falls: If you enjoy walking, you can walk for 2h30min to Haruru Falls through a sheltered bushwalk next to the Waitangi River. If you like kayaking, another way to get to the waterfall is to take a kayak which you can hire.
  • Cruise to the hole in the rock. This 3 hour cruise takes you on a journey through the Island of the Bay of Islands, out to the famous Hole in the Rock. Along the way you’ll learn about the history, the land, the wildlife and the conservation efforts to protect this valuable region.

Things to do in Whangarei

Whangarei, the city by the sea, is the biggest city in the Northland region.

Raumanga Falls
  • Not 1 but 6 stunning waterfalls:
    Whangarei falls– Often called one of the most photogenic waterfalls in NZ. Situated northeast of Whangarei, the beautiful 24m falls can be reached by a steep path from the carpark.
    Piroa falls: Take a short 5 to 10 minute walk through beautiful native forest, cross the bridge across the Ahuroa River, and you will arrive at the gorgeous Piroa Falls, part of the Waipu Gorge Scenic Reserve.
    Wairua Falls: Located 24 km west of Whangarei city on Wairua Falls road, off Mangakahia Road. The waterfall can be viewed from the carpark at the top or you can walk down to the base via the bush track. 
    Paranui Falls: This waterfall is a little hidden away in the Kauri Park, be aware this track can be steep in places.
    Raumanga Falls: Found in the Raumanga Valley Reserve. This is a 15-minute walk through a park and native forest, on this walk, there are a few natural pools to swim in.
    Taheke Falls: Enjoy the impressive view downstream over the Taheke Scenic Reserve.
  • Whangarei Quarry: Enjoy walking through stunning plants with paths leading to lakes and waterfalls.
  • Discover the beaches around this coastal city: From Bream and Waipu, to Onerahi, Whangarei Heads and the Tutukaka Coast. Discover Waipu Cove, Ruakaka, Ocean Beach, Smugglers Bay, Matapouri, Sandy Bay and Oakura.
  • Mt Manaia: A steady climb through the native bush to the summit of Mount Manaia, the hike rewards you with breath-taking views of the dramatic entrance to the Whangarei harbour
  • Mount Parihaka- The highest point in the city
  • Head over to Whangarei heads to over see views of the coast and harbour
  • Walks and hikes: Choose from trails in the native forest, strolls on white sandy beaches and tracks with superb coastal views. Spot rare and beautiful birds and maybe even hear a kiwi calling in the wild, at night of course. 

Things to do between Auckland and Whangarei

  • Baylys Beach: Go on a 4WD adventure along Kaipara’s Ripiro Beach – the shipwreck highway. Leaving from the popular Baylys Beach, drive along the sand and experience many of the area’s hidden treasures, as you travel to the historic lighthouse at Pouto. On the tours, you can come across unearthed shipwrecks, seals and other wildlife. You will see buried Kauri forests and local shellfish beds
  • One tree point: Peach Cove Beach
  • Marsden point
  • Ruakaka
  • Waipu, Waipu caves
    Piora falls
  • Langs Beach
  • Mangawhai & Mangawhai Heads  A lovely resort town, one and a half hours north of Auckland. Great beaches, fishing, surfing and walking trails.

Other things to do in Northland

Wherever you go, go with all your heart