Twin Coast Discovery


695 km


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



Use Paihia as a base with day trips to Cape Reinga, Ninety Mile Beach and Hokianga.

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’.

Day 1: Auckland to Hokianga via Dargaville

Northland & Bay of Islands
Waipoua Forest, Northland & Bay of Islands

By Northland Inc

Northland & Bay of Islands


A place of history, long beaches and giant trees.


  • Rich Maori history
  • The world's largest Kauri tree
  • Sandboarding


  • By car: 3 h 54 min | 276 km via SH1 & SH12
  • By bus: No direct bus service to Hokianga

Depart Auckland and start your adventure north towards Opononi. On the way explore antique and craft stores in Maungaturoto and Paparoa, 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. 

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.

Ancient Kauri Trail Map available here.

Day 2: Hokianga to Kaitaia

Northland & Bay of Islands
Northland's top surfing location, Northland & Bay of Islands

By Shipwreck Bay


  • Breathtaking beaches
  • Shipwreck Bay
  • New Zealand's northernmost vineyard


  • By car: 1 h 40 min | 80 km via Rawane & SH1
  • By ferry: This route includes a car-ferry crossing.


Gateway to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach.

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Make your way through the fishing village of Rawene, visit the local art galleries and enjoy a coffee at the Boatshed Café before you board the car ferry to Kohukohu.

Journey through yester-year taking in rural New Zealand country-side on your way north to Kaitaia, the main centre for the 'subtropical' north.

From here you can arrange a coach tour to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach.

Or visit Shipwreck Bay, aptly named for its many shipwrecks some of which are still visible at low tide. It has also become a famous surfing destination with left-hand breaks and long rides.

Day 3: Kaitaia to Paihia via Doubtless Bay

Northland & Bay of Islands
Ninety Mile Beach, Northland & Bay of Islands

By Amos Chapple


  • Ninety Mile Beach
  • Mangonui Fish Shop
  • Doubtless Bay


  • By car: 1 h 35 min | 118 km via Coastal route SH10
  • By bus: This route has no direct bus service


A wonderland of islands, marine life, kauri forests and Maori legend.

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Continue on to the stunning Doubtless Bay, where you can enjoy lunch 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, which give this district its creative personality.

In Kerikeri you’ll find galleries, cafes, vineyards and fascinating historic sites such as the Stone Store and the Mission House. There are also superb bush walks in the area – Rainbow Falls is a perfect picnic spot.

Spend the evening at Paihia at the heart of the Bay of Islands.

Check out the Te Ara Coast to Coast Map for hidden gems between the Bay of Islands and Hokianga.

Day 4: Spend the day in Bay of Islands

Northland & Bay of Islands
Waitangi Treaty Ground, Northland & Bay of Islands

By Fraser Clements

Northland & Bay of Islands


Known for its stunning beauty & history.


  • Swim with dolphins
  • Explore Waitangi Treaty Grounds
  • Visit New Zealand's first sea port


Learn about Maori culture and the early history of New Zealand.

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The resort town of Paihia makes an excellent base for exploring the Bay of Islands.

Catch a cruise to the outer islands, go on a dolphin swimming safari, or take a ferry to the charming township of Russell.

The historic Treaty House at Waitangi marks the beginning of New Zealand as a nation and is great place to experience some Maori culture.

Day 5: Paihia to Whangarei

Northland & Bay of Islands
Poor Knights Island, Northland & Bay of Islands

By Fraser Clements


  • Poor Knights Island
  • Mermaid Pools near Matapouri Beach
  • Top surf breaks


  • By car: 1 h 5 min | 70 km via SH1
  • By bus: 1 h 10 min | by Intercity
  • By : Visit Whangarei iSITE for local activities


Watch the boats as you relax at a quayside café.

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The Tutukaka Coast, near Whangarei was named one of the top coastal destinations in the world by National Geographic Traveller.

Tutukaka is also the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands, a protected marine reserve known for the clarity of its water and abundant sea life. Jacques Cousteau called the Poor Knights Islands one of the top ten dive sites. Click here for a journey map for this area.

The Mermaid Pools near Matapouri Beach are a stunning spot for a swim or enjoy a walk to picturesque Whale Bay.

Travel the Whangarei Heads scenic drive as it winds through pohutakawa fringed bays with stunning views to the wild and beautiful Ocean Beach. View recommended journey map for this region.

Day 6: Whangarei to Auckland

Mahurangi Oysters, Auckland

By Miles Holden



Vibrant city style and spectacular landscapes.


  • Matakana markets
  • West Coast beaches
  • Sunset kayak to Rangitoto


  • By car: 2 h 12 min | 158 km via SH1 - includes tolls
  • By bus: 3 h | by Intercity

Slowly make your way back to Auckland via the coastal road.

You will come across beach after beach along the Ruakaka, Waipu, Bream Bay and Mangawhai coastal environment.

At Matakana take a detour to check out the Saturday markets or stop for lunch a local winery.

Back in Auckland, finish your journey with a sunset kayak to Rangitoto or watch the city's glittering lights from the summit of Mount Eden.

Driving in New Zealand

Important things you need to know about driving in New Zealand.

View the route below

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