A vast region encompassing the north of the North Island beyond Auckland, Northland attracts travellers with its rugged coastline and beautiful beaches, strings of islands and primary forests, wildlife and Maori heritage. Often reduced to the Bay of Islands which is undoubtedly the most visited part, Northland has however much more to offer.
For any stay in this region, we suggest in peak season to avoid sleeping in Paihia which can be noisy; we prefer Russell or accommodation in the hinterland. The new Waitangi Museum is a must to visit to understand British colonization and the conflicting cohabitation with the Maori people.
It would be a shame not to go further north via Matauri Bay and Taupo Bay to arrive at the charming village of Mangonui, known for its Fish and Chips. Finally, you can relax at Karikari Peninsula, and this itinerary is synonymous to a pleasant day.
The western part including Rawene, Hokianga and the Kauri forest of Waipoua is also enjoyable.
Cape Reinga is, of course, a must, but the distance to get there is long. Many tourists think they can take the opportunity to get to 90 miles of Beach, but this sector is prohibited for rental cars. If your budget allows, we suggest a flyover from Kerikeri above 90 miles Beach. The plane lands in a field near Cape Reinga where you travel by minibus to return by plane via the east coast. A unique experience as you fly over both the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
The distances are long, which is why a two-night stay in Northland is much too short. If your schedule is tight, we recommend the following options. If you are a walker, Bream Head is a fair compromise between hiking and beaches, only 2 ½ hours from Auckland. If it is a seaside note that you want to integrate into your stay, then we suggest that you put your Mangawhai suitcases only 1h30 from Auckland, it is a real kiwi destination ignored by international tourists, with magnificent beaches and some excellent restaurants. Nearby is Matakohe, whose museum dedicated to the famous Kauri is merely fascinating.
Pouto is also a surprising destination, the road from Dargaville to get there is magnificent, allow yourself a good hour. Park your car and head towards the lighthouse, which is a 1.5-hour walk away. You will play on the Beach with the dune on your right, the ocean and the northern tip of South Head on your left. Take your swimsuit and a picnic to enjoy a great day.
Finally, the Matakana region is not to be missed on Saturday for its market, and not far from there, you will reach Tawharanui Regional Park, one of the most beautiful in the country. The island of Kawau with its waterfront accommodation is also worth considering.
In summary, Northland is primarily a seaside destination and it is a dead-end which can, therefore, be very time-consuming in your itinerary. Please do not underestimate the distances and trust us on the excellent alternatives that are Bream Head and Mangawhai.
Thanks for your arrangements for our trip to New Zealand, Carolyn. What a fabulous place and great people! The b&bs were terrific, particularly Carol...
John Larson, USA
Carolyn, I thought we should tell you how much we enjoyed the trip. NZ was great - the people, the food, the scenery. We liked all the places you booked for...
Glynis Williams, USA
OUAT organised a great trip on the Hollyford Track. The lodges were wonderful with the most decisions food. The guides really knowledgeable and friendly....
Susie and Alice Hoddell, UK