Tour both coastlines of New Zealand’s warmest region and discover picturesque beaches and marine adventures of every description. Explore some of the many cycle trails and walking tracks and visit locations of local and cultural significance including Tane Mahuta - the famous Kauri Tree, 90 Mile Beach and Waitangi - the ‘Birthplace of our Nation’.
Depart Auckland and start your adventure north towards Opononi. In the villages of Maungaturoto and Paparoa you can explore antique and craft shops, or visit the Matakohe Kauri Museum. Discover Waipoua Forest - home to the majestic Tane Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest and largest Kauri tree in the world. Then stop by Ripiro beach or Kai Iwi Lakes for a swim on the way.
Continue on to the Hokianga Harbour, where Maori first arrived in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Look out to the stunning sand dunes which after a short ferry ride you could be sandboarding down.
Make your way north through the fishing village of Rawene. Stop off and see the art galleries and enjoy a coffee at the Boatshed Café. Take the car ferry to Kohukohu and journey through yester-year taking in rural New Zealand country-side on your way north to Ahipara, a popular camping spot.
Nearby Shipwreck Bay is aptly named as it was the site of the sinking of many ships, the wrecks of which are still visible at low tide. It's a famous surfing destination with left-hand breaks and long rides. Close by is the Ahipara Gumfields Historic reserve and the remnants of ancient kauri forests.
Kaitaia is the main centre for the 'subtropical' north. From here you can arrange a coach tour to Cape Reinga or catch a bus trip along Ninety Mile Beach. Make the trip to the Cape Reinga lighthouse at the very top of the North Island.
The Cape is of great spiritual importance to Maori, who believe it is the jumping off point for the souls of their departed loved ones making their way back to their mythical homeland of Hawaiki. Head to the stunning Doubtless Bay and enjoy dinner at the Mangonui Fish Shop.
The road leading into Kerikeri is bordered by orchards. Roadside stalls offer the chance to buy seasonal fruit. Look out for signs showing the way to artists’ studios – resident potters and painters have given this district a creative personality.
In Kerikeri you’ll find galleries, cafes and vineyards, gourmet food shops, several golf courses and historic sites such as the Stone Store and the Mission House. There are superb bush walks in the area – Rainbow Falls is a perfect picnic spot.
The Tutukaka Coast has been rated by National Geographic Traveller as one of the top coastal destinations in the world. Check out the Mermaid Pools near Matapouri Beach or enjoy a walk to picturesque Whale Bay. Tutukaka township offers a range of accommodation, shops and restaurants and is also the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands. The Poor Knights Islands is 25kms offshore from Tutukaka and have been rated as one of the top ten dive sites in the world by Jacque Cousteau. The water is known for its clarity and an abundance of sea life, protected by the surrounding marine reserve.
The Whangarei Heads scenic drive winds through pohutakawa fringed bays with stunning views of the areas distinctive volcanic outcrops; the road ends at the wild and beautiful Ocean Beach.
Head back to Auckland via the coastal road. You will come across beach after beach along the Ruakaka, Waipu, Bream Bay and Mangawhai coastal environment.