Twin Coast Discovery Highway

5 Days
751km
467mi

Route

Auckland Central to Auckland Central

Highlights

  • Bay of Islands beaches
  • Giant kauri trees
  • Dolphin spotting

Best time of year

All year

Tour both coasts of the New Zealand’s warmest region and discover beaches and marine adventures of every description. Cruise the Hauraki Gulf from Auckland, city of sails, then travel north to Whangarei past surfing spots and character-filled towns. Enjoy the restaurants of the Whangarei waterfront before you launch into the Bay of Islands.

Historic sites, boat trips and dolphin spotting will occupy you until you’re ready to move on to Kaitaia, the base for tours to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach. Follow the west coast back to Auckland, taking time to discover kauri forests, coastal lakes and local attractions like dune surfing and 4WD motorbiking.

Whangarei's central Quay is lined with cafes, galleries and shops.
Info

Whangarei's central Quay is lined with cafes, galleries and shops.

Photo by Destination Northland

Day 1

Auckland - Whangarei

2 hrs

12 mins

167 km

104 mi

Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is situated between two enormous harbours and dotted with 48 extinct volcanic cones. It’s a place to enjoy marine adventures, wine trails, forest walks and urban sophistication.

At the beginning of your journey, you’ll drive over the Auckland Harbour Bridge towards the bays and beaches of Auckland’s North Shore. The motorway will quickly sweep you northward, until the suburban scenery gives way to peaceful farmland.

Driving north, you’ll pass Hatfield’s Beach before coming across Waiwera, which means ‘hot water’ in Maori. The hot springs are the main attraction in this small, seaside village.

A drive through the Dome Forest will lead you into the rural service town of Wellsford. From here you can take a side trip to Pakiri - a great beach for surfing and horse treks. Kaiwaka is the next town on the map. At this point consider an eastern detour past the spectacular beaches of Mangawhai Heads, Langs Beach and Waipu Cove.

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 Whangarei Falls.

Auckland Central

Start in Auckland Central

This is the heart of Auckland, with a relaxed Pacific vibe by day and a night-time energy shared by the inner-city suburbs that surround it.

Quayside, Whangarei

End in Whangarei

The city of Whangarei is an excellent place to slide into the laid back Northland lifestyle. Watch the boats as you relax at a quayside café.

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