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Northland, New Zealand is a subtropical haven of beaches, islands and bays with many boating activities and water based attractions. Unique native rainforest offer many walking and hikng activities...More
Northland, New Zealand is a subtropical haven of beaches, islands and bays with many boating activities and water based attractions. Unique native rainforest offer many walking and hikng activities and the Northland region is historically and culturally significant, being New Zealand’s first area of settlement. The Northland Region stretches from Auckland to the very top of New Zealand. It is a story of two coastlines with the iconic Bay of Islands, as well as the Kauri Coast, the Far North, and Whangarei. Encounter the magnificent Tane Mahuta, the biggest kauri tree in existence, amongst New Zealand rainforest near the stunning Hokianga Harbour. Journey past the huge sand dunes and pristine beaches of the Far North to experience the northernmost tip of the country, where you can watch the seas of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea collide. Visit the stunning Doubtless Bay and then the beautiful Bay of Islands with its 144 islands and bays. Swim with dolphins, dive, fish, sail or play golf and visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, one of New Zealand’s most significant historic sites, along with Russell and Kerikeri, New Zealand's oldest settlements and buildings. Northland's only city, Whangarei is close to the beautiful Bream Bay and Mangawhai beaches to the south, and Tutukaka with a world-class marine reserve for diving and fantastic outlying marlin fishing areas.
Best Attractions and things to do in Northland.
1. Visit the Bay of Islands
with 144 islands and many beautiful bays and beaches, take one of the many boat trips with water sports and activities on offer here and swim, snorkel kayak and or paddle-board, dive, fish, sail as your heart desires. Out to sea, you can enjoy fantastic outlying marlin fishing areas.
2. Dive at the Poor Knights Islands
off Tutukaka, a world-class marine reserve with some of the best subtropical diving in the world. The 11 million-year-old Islands’ volcanic origins provide myriad spectacular drop-offs, walls, caves, arches and tunnels all abundantly populated with the unique and incredibly varied plant, animal and fish life.
3. Walk through New Zealand rainforest
found throughout Northland with many rare native trees and birds. Visit Waipoua near the stunning Hokianga harbour and encounter the magnificent Tane Mahuta, the biggest kauri tree in existence. Puketi Kauri forest near the Bay of Islands also has many different walks to choose from and an excellent guided tour.
4. Journey past the huge sand dunes
and pristine beaches of the Far North to experience the northernmost tip of the country, where you can watch the seas of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea collide. Guided tours include bogey boarding down the Te Paki sand dunes and a drive down 90-mile beach!
5. Explore the stunning Doubtless Bay
with its many subtropical beaches, vineyards, olive groves and the old whaling village of Manganui with its historical walk, waterfront cafés and world-famous fish and chips!
6. Discover Waitangi
New Zealand’s most important historic site near Paihia, an authentic and interactive cultural experience showing the story of New Zealand’s history.
7. Visit Russell
New Zealand’s first European settlement and seaport. This quaint seaside town's streets retain their original layout and names from 1843 and still has many of its original historic buildings to visit.
8. Twin Coast Cycle Trail
stretching from the Bay of Islands on the east coast to the Hokianga Harbour in the west coast. You will see old historic settlements, coastal views, lush forests and fascinating cultural sights.
9. Whangarei, Northland's only city
with art galleries, restaurants and shops. Visit Whangarei Falls and drive out to Whangarei Heads with hiking trails beaches and views.
10. Surf at Shipwreck Bay
on the west coast and Taupo Bay, Matauri Bay, Sandys bay or Mangawhai on the east coast as you travel around Northland.
Free Attractions and Things to do in Northland
Northland is a story of two coastlines with the iconic Bay of Islands, Tutukaka coast and Doubtless Bay on the East Coast with its rocky shores and pristine white sand beaches to enjoy. The West Coast is home to untouched New Zealand native rainforest, huge natural harbours and magnificent sand dunes. Then there’s the Far North with its breathtakingly stunning pristine coastline. Here are the main attractions for Northland which are free to enjoy.
What FREE things are there to see and do in Northland?
1. Kerikeri stone store basin
a beautiful river setting with two of the oldest buildings in New Zealand set amongst 200 year old heritage gardens. Established in 1819, the Kerikeri Mission Station is one of the first places in New Zealand where Māori invited visitors to live among them. The Stone Store is was built in 1832 as a trading post, is New Zealand’s oldest stone building and is still a working store today.
2. Rainbow Falls
– walk along the river from the Kerikeri Stone Store. The walking track is well maintained and a relatively easy hike of one hour being 4.2 km from the park next to the Stone Store. The hike meanders along the river with ups and downs until you reach the falls.
3. Visit Paihia and Russell
– Paihia is the gateway to the bay of Islands with its bustling town with café’s, restaurants and beautiful beaches. Opposite Paihia is the Historic town of Russell which can be visited by passenger ferry from Paihia or a car ferry from Opua.
4. Drive to Cape Reinga Lighthouse
– very top of New Zealand 100 km north of the nearest small town of Kaitaia. It’s a long drive but the view was spectacular! At the northernmost tip of the Cape is a gnarled pohutukawa tree, believed to be over 800 years old. According to Maori oral history, the spirits of deceased Maori leap from this tree into the ocean to return to their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.
5. Rarawa Beach
– beautiful pure white squeaky silicone sand with crystal clear waters. A great picnic spot on the way up to Cape Reinga.
6. Mangonui Heritage Trail
– a one and a half hour 3 km walk providing a glimpse into the Māori and European history in the area. Pop into the Doubtless Bay info centre in Mangonui to pick up a Heritage Trail brochure. The trail begins and ends nearby the info centre at the Mangonui Courthouse.
7. Waipoua Forest
- and the adjoining forests of Mataraua and Waima, make up the largest remaining tract of native forest situated along the West Coast in Northland. There are many bush walks of different lengths and is home of Tane Mahuta, the largest kauri tree in existence which is only five a minute walk from the roadside.
8. Kai Iwi Sand Lake
– beautiful clear fresh water lakes just outside of Dargaville.
9. Ocean Beach
- Whangarei Heads –– 5 km long pristine clear water beach with stunning views
10. Matapouri Bay
– golden sands and rocky headlands – check out the mermaid pools!
11. Kawakawa Public Toilets by Hundertwasser
– by world class Austrian artist.
12. St Pauls Rock
– Whangaroa. A short walk with stunning views.
Northland Culture and History
Northland is one of the most culturally significant regions in New Zealand. Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in Paihia, Bay of islands, one of New Zealand’s most significant historic sites. Also a must see is Russell and Kerikeri, New Zealand's oldest settlements and Historic buildings showing our New Zealand culture which are definitely excellent activities if you are interested in NZ history. You can go on a professional historical tour which is recommended as you will get a commentary to explain the colourful history and culture of this area. Mangonui is an historic fishing village, once a busy whaling and trading town with a three-kilometre walk around the village taking in 18 heritage buildings. There are several tour companies who will take you on historical tours to many more places of significance around Northland such as the Hokianga Harbour and our oldest tree Tane Mahuta!