1 / 8
- Minimum length: 750km
- Add 200km for Cape Reinga
- Minimum duration: 4 days
- Start: Auckland; finish: Auckland.
Twin Coast Highway
Your journey begins in Auckland where you can shop til you drop and wine and dine til the wee hours. Surrounding this buzzing metropolis is a wealth of nature to explore, both on land and in the water.
Food and wine
Auckland is the unofficial headquarters for Pacific Rim cuisine. And with four different wine-making regions on the city's doorstep, you'll easily find a local vintage to match your fare. Trying the food and wine here is a must.
The Hunua Ranges are one of 26 regional parks on Auckland city’s doorstep; it's a great place for walking and mountain biking. The Hunua falls sit on the western edge of the 14,000 hectare reserve, about one hour’s drive from downtown Auckland.
At any time of the year, Northland's subtropical climate and laid-back coastal lifestyle is enticing. From October to April, grab a board and catch a wave at stunning surf beaches like Pakiri, Mangawhai Heads and Waipu. When the water's too cool for swimming, there's still plenty of other activities to keep you entertained.
Whangarei and Tutukaka Coast
Whangarei is a subtropical city on the edge of a beautiful harbour. At the Quayside Town Basin complex you’ll find stylish cafes and restaurants, as well as museums, art galleries and shops. Be sure to visit the spectacular Whangarei Falls.
Poor Knights Islands
The Poor Knights are considered New Zealand’s top diving location, and one of the best in the world. Beneath the surface you’ll find sponge gardens, rock arches and cave labyrinths alive with fish, shellfish, urchins and anemones.
Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is an iconic New Zealand holiday destination. From Paihia or Russell you can do overnight boat trips, sightseeing day cruises, sea kayaking, dolphin tours and game fishing. In Opua you can charter a yacht, bareboat or skippered, and discover the beaches and coves of the offshore islands.
Northland is often called ‘the birthplace of the nation’ – a name that recognises the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi, signed between the Maori people and the British in 1840. As well as the historic Treaty House, Waitangi has a Maori meeting house and one of the largest ceremonial war canoes in the world.
Visit Cape Reinga and you’ll be at the northernmost tip of the North Island, where the Tasman sea meets the Pacific. According to Maori beliefs, this is the place where the souls of departed love ones set out for the ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.
90 Mile Beach
A walk along 90 mile beach will leave you feeling like you’re the only person on earth. Bordered by rolling dunes, wild tussock and lush rainforest on one side, and the sparkling Tasman on the other, you can enjoy this vast stretch of coast from your beach towel, sandboard or 4WD vehicle.
Waipoua Kauri Forest
Eighty five percent of New Zealand's kauri trees grow in Northland. In the magnificent Waipoua Forest you'll be astounded by Tane Mahuta, New Zealand's largest kauri (51 metres high with a girth of over 13 metres).
The Kauri Museum at Matakohe provides unique insight into our giants of the forest, along with New Zealand's pioneer history. Plan to spend at least a couple of hours here - the museum is bigger than you'd expect!
Where to next?
The Twin Coast Highway is an excellent start to your New Zealand adventure, but there's plenty more to explore. On returning to Auckland, you might like to venture south and experience geothermal phenomena on the Thermal Explorer Highway, or wineries and beaches on the Pacific Coast Highway.