Located about two hours north of Auckland, Whangarei is situated near the east coast of the North Island. The small beach towns of Tutukaka and Manapouri are located within a short drive. (Note: Tutukaka is home to some of New Zealand’s best diving.) Although our planned destination was the coastal towns, we found more lodging options in Whangarei.
Things To Do
1) Cruise To Poor Knight’s Islands
We took a day trip to Poor Knights Islands through A Perfect Day. The trip departs from the Tutukaka Marina and gives you a couple hours for to snorkeling, swimming, paddle boarding, sea kayaking, or just enjoying the sunshine from the deck of the boat. It was early in the season, thus the water was quite cold by US standards, thus we used the provided wet-suits. We saw lots of colorful fish. The best part of the trip was the ride around the islands to see some impressive arches, including the tallest arch in the southern hemisphere. Overall, we enjoyed the day on the water. The same company (Dive Tutukaka) runs a daily trip to the island for scuba diving — the dive site which is on Jacques Cousteau list of best dive sites in the world.
There are a number of fantastic hikes along the Tutukaka Coast. See the Tutukaka Coast NZ website for additional details on some of the trekking options in the area. We would highly recommend the following hikes. Do not forget to pack a lunch and take your swimsuit if you want to enjoy some of the beautiful beaches in the area.
This circular loop allows you to enjoy the beaches at both Matapouri Bay and Whale Bay. There are fantastic lookouts on this loop. We did not complete the full loop, but instead started at Matapouri Bay, made our way to Whale Bay and then doubled back to take in the views over the water.
B) Whale Bay
This path runs from a car park via well maintained track to the beach at Whale Bay. We enjoyed sitting and soaking up the sun on this pristine beach. Note, the Matapouri Bay to Whale Bay intersects this path. If you are just interested in the beach then this short 15 minute path (30 return) is a good selection.
Our B&B host also recommended the Tutukaka Headland Lighthouse walk. However, we did not have time, plus we were did not time things properly with the low tide.
3) Other Activities
There are lots of other water-based activities available in the area including kayaking, surfing, and fishing. We would recommend vising the Tutukaka Coast website for an outline of all available activities in the area.
We ate at a couple of the restaurants located in the Tutukaka Marina. See the Tutukaka Coast website for additional dining options on the coast.
Located right next to the dive shop/boat trip, this is a perfect place to enjoy happy hour and/or a meal following your day at sea. We enjoyed the food, selection of beers on tap, and the live jazz music on the patio.
Located in the marina, this pizza joint has a nice patio. The pizza was average and the drink selection was limited. (There was only one beer and one cider on tap, plus a limited wine selection.)
We stayed in this fantastic B&B, which was located about 10-15 minutes from the Tutukaka Marina. The breakfasts were wonderful, internet was free, and the accommodations were clean and comfortable. Plus the property had a great patio, pool, and game room. We would definitely recommend to anyone passing through the area.