Dargaville is built along the edge of the wide Northern Wairoa River, two and a half hours drive north-west of Auckland. Maori settlements and marae (meeting places) have been scattered around the area for hundreds of years.
The township of Dargaville was established by Irish businessman Joseph McMullen Dargaville in the 1870s, during the heyday of kauri felling and gum digging. It was largely settled by Dalamatian immigrants, whose descendants still live there today. Dairy farming is the main local industry; the district also produces around two thirds of New Zealand’s kumara (sweet potato) crop.
The town is proud of its heritage, having re-employed many of its 19th century buildings – you’ll find cafes, art shops and other interesting retail opportunities. Dargaville's hotels and motels, backpackers and motor camps stand alongside tributes to the past like the Gumdigger Statue.
The Dargaville Museum has an interesting collection of Maori artefacts, shipwreck treasures and gum digging exhibits. At nearby Matakohe, the Kauri Museum honours the historic kauri industry.
Dargaville has grown as a tourist destination in the past two decades, particularly as a base from which to visit the unspoiled recreational paradise of the Kauri Coast. Nearby also lies the Kai Iwi Lakes - great for a freshwater dip - and the ruggedly beautiful Baylys Beach.
Dargaville has a small Airport and is within easy reach of Whangarei's larger air terminal. The town is also serviced by two major bus services providing daily travel to Auckland.