8 Day Northland Itinerary Auckland to Auckland (8 days)
Day 1: Auckland - Waipu: Beaches, Surf & Galleries Approx travel time: 2 hours
Follow State Highway 1 north from Auckland. Turn right past Te Hana and follow the Twin Coast Discovery Highway past Mangawhai, Langs Beach and Waipu Cove.
What to do and see:
Day 2: Waipu - Tutukaka: Marine & Nature Reserve Approx travel time: 1 hour
- Mangawhai and Mangawhai Heads have plenty of funky cafes, craft shops and galleries.
- Mangawhai Heads is a surf beach while the estuary on the other side is perfect for little children.
- Mangawhai cliff top walk.
- Goat Island is one of New Zealand's Marine Reserves and offers safe swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. Explore Goat Island’s underwater world without getting wet aboard the Glass Bottom Boat www.glassbottomboat.co.nz.
- Waipu Cove and Langs beach are stunning white sand beaches.
- Waipu is a historical township. A visit to the Waipu Museum is a MUST DO.
Get back onto State Highway 1 to Whangarei. In Whangarei follow the signs to Tutukaka. What to do and see:
Day 3: Tutukaka - Bay of Islands: Aquatic Paradise Approx travel time: 1.5 hours
- Check out the Whangarei Town Basin with its yachts, café’s, galleries, including the famous Burning Issues Gallery and New Zealand’s National Clock Museum.
- Twenty three kilometres off New Zealand’s Tutukaka Coast and washed by warm currents swept south from the Coral Sea, the Poor Knights Islands are an international icon. A total Marine Reserve and Nature Reserve - and pending World Heritage Site - the 11 million year old Islands’ volcanic origins provide spectacular drop offs, walls, caves, arches and tunnels. Take a boat trip to and dive or snorkel at the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve.
- Whale Bay Walkway: Walking from Matapouri Bay to beautiful Whale Bay is a delightful walk through native bush reserve. Whale Bay was used by early Maori tribes during their whaling expeditions because of the calm waters. This idyllic white sandy beach surrounded by bush is only accessible via a walking track from the car park on Matapouri Road. You will also find many of New Zealand's native trees such as Pohutukawa and Puriri trees.
- Dive Tutukaka is New Zealand’s premier full-service dive charter operator, servicing the Poor Knights Islands; “the best sub-tropical diving in the world”. www.diving.co.nz.
Follow the windy road past Sandy Bay Whale Bay back to State Highway 1 and drive north to the Bay of Islands. Detour to KawaKawa:
The most famous toilets in New Zealand: the Hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa. The Austrian architect and artist lived 6 months of the year in Kawakawa. The toilets were the last building he designed before he died in 1999. What to do and see:
Day 4: Bay of Islands - Karikari Peninsula: More Beaches Approx travel time: 1.5 hours
- Russell, is a small, historic seaside village on a peninsula in the eastern Bay of Islands. Since the 1700s it has provided a haven for visitors, offering shelter and hospitality. Because of its relatively remote location it retains an island quality and a charm that reflects the tranquility of earlier times. www.russellnz.co.nz.
- Hole in the Rock cruises, sailing, fishing, kayaking, dolphin swimming www.dolphincruises.co.nz.
- Take a guided tour, learn Maori, watch a cultural performance or just wander around at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This is where the founding document of New Zealand was signed between the Maori Chiefs and the British Crown in 1840. The grounds include the Treaty House, a fully carved Maori Meeting House, one of the largest Maori War Canoes and a Visitor Centre and Gallery.
- Coastal walk from Opua to Paihia or mangrove walk from Waitangi to Haruru Falls.
- Overnight cruise, www.rocktheboat.co.nz or www.cruise-ship.co.nz.
- The farmers market in Kerikeri on Sunday mornings.
Follow State Highway 10 North. Turn right at Karikari Peninsula. Compulsory detour:
Take the turn off to Matauri Bay and have a swim at Matauri Bay, a walk at Te Ngaire Bay, go for a surf at Tauranga Bay, and stop for a drink at the Whangaroa Swordfish Club. What to do and see:
Day 5: Karikari Peninsula - Ahipara: 90 Mile Beach Approx travel time: 1 hour
- Play golf at Kauri Cliffs or Carrington.
- Enjoy the stunning beaches: Matauri Bay, Coopers Beach, Cable Bay and Maitai Bay.
Drive back to State Highway 10, and drive North via Awanui. Turn onto SH1 to Kaitaia, and from there to Ahipara. What to do and see:
Day 6: Ahipara to Hokianga: Giant Kauris Approx travel time: 1.45 hours via vehicle ferry
- Cape Reinga & 90 Mile Beach Tours.
- For surfies: Ahipara has one of the best left hand surf breaks in the world.
- Quadbiking or blokarting on 90 mile beach.
- Visit Ancient Kauri Kingdom in Awanui.
- Explore the white beaches on the east coast: Rarawa and Henderson.
- Surf the giant sand dunes of Te Paki. This is heaps of fun for the whole family.
Head east from Ahipara and turn right onto Kaitaia Awaroa Road which becomes SH12, drive through towns Broadwood and Kohukohu to the “Narrows” car ferry which is on your left hand side about 5 minutes from Kohukohu. Car ferry departs on the hour up to 8pm daily and takes approx 15 minutes to cross. Tickets purchased onboard by cash or card.
Depart ferry at Rawene and drive through town to SH12 and turn right, follow road into town of Opononi – this is the Hokianga Harbour. What to do and see:
Day 7: Hokianga - Kai Iwi Lakes: Fresh Water Lakes Approx travel time: 1 hour
- See Tane Mahuta, the largest living Kauri tree in the Waipoua forest or take a guided evening tour with Footprints Waipoua. www.footprintswaipoua.co.nz.
- Take a cruise across the Hokianga Harbour for some serious sand tobogganing – take a picnic and make a day of it – great fun!
- Visit local arts/crafts and galleries in historic Kohukohu and Rawene.
- Labyrinth Woodworks and Maze – a must for the young and old, see if you can unravel some amazing handmade puzzles or get lost in the maze! www.nzanity.co.nz.
Head south on SH12 and keep following this, turn right into Omamari Road, then right into Kai Iwi Lakes Road. What to do and see:
Day 8: Kai Iwi Lakes - Auckland Approx travel time: 2.5 hours
- Taharoa domain is a 538 ha recreation reserve containing three freshwater lakes known as the Kai Iwi Lakes. Enjoy walks, swimming and kayaks are available for hire in the summer months.
- Trout fishing. Each year Fish & Game release trout into the three beautiful sand based lakes. Try your hand at fly fishing, boat fishing, jigging and trolling!
- Bayleys Beach, enjoy lovely golden sands, dig for shellfish or go kite fishing. Quad bike hire and horse trekking also available.
Drive back to SH12 and head to Dargaville, keep heading south on SH12 to Matakohe. Keep following SH12 which becomes SH1 at the Brynderwyns. Follow SH1 all the way to Auckland or another option is turn onto SH16 at Wellsford and keep on the West Coast all the way to Auckland. What to do and see:
- Zizania Mill, Big River Art Gallery and Wood Turners Kauri Gallery located in Dargaville.
- The Kauri Museum in Matakohe is “the world’s best kauri gum display” as well as a unique insite into the early pioneers, gumdiggers and tree fellers. www.kauri-museum.com
- Sheepworld in Warkworth – see sheep and dog shows, NZ made products and Café www.sheepworld.co.nz.
- Waiwera Infinity Thermal Resort and Spa – rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit www.waiwera.co.nz.