Just a short drive away you find rural idyll in the pretty bays of Whangarei Heads and on to the stunning coastline out at Ocean Beach.
The coastal route from the Bay of Islands to Whangarei takes you on a leisurely path along the gorgeous Tutukaka Coast. Once in the the city (only 45 minutes from Paihia via the state highway), you find all that you would expect, from good shopping opportunities to excellent cafes and restaurants. There is a strong arts vein to the city, with many small galleries in the town basin.
Heading out to Onerahi and beyond, you will reach follow the north side of the Whangarei Harbour, taking you out towards some of the most stunning small bays and beaches and the opportunity for fantastic day walks at Mount Manaia and Breamhead.
The city of Whangarei is an excellent place to relax into the laid back Northland lifestyle. Watch the boats as you relax at a quayside café.
The City by the Sea - subtropical Whangarei. Head for the summit of Mount Parahaki, the highest point in the city. It was once the site of the largest Maori Pa (fortified village) in New Zealand. The excavations are still visible and interpretation of the area is provided at the site, which can be accessed by a pleasant walk through native forest from the summit.
Quayside at the town basin is a sophisticated yet leisurely centre for eating and entertainment. Modern landscaping blends perfectly with colonial architecture to create a gathering place for locals, visitors and yachties from all over the world. As well as stylish cafes and restaurants, there are museums, art galleries and specialty shops.
West of the city centre, in the suburb of Maunu, there’s an excellent natural history museum complete with Kiwi bird house. Nearby, a native bird recovery centre nurses birds back to health.
At Whangarei Falls, you can see the waterfall that’s often called the ‘most photogenic waterfall in New Zealand’. Drive further to Whangarei Heads and the Bream Head Scenic Reserve for outstanding walks and panoramic coastal and harbour views.
Whangarei is a good place to stock up on essential supplies if you’re planning to spend a few days at one of the region’s beaches. As an addictively laid-back beach city with plenty to see and great places to stay, you may find yourself sticking around longer than expected.