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Starting just an hour and a half north of Auckland, the charming coastal town of Mangawhai is one of Northland’s real gems. With a distinctly artistic vibe, the village itself is bursting with creativity, culture, cuisine, and even chocolate! In the surrounding areas, bush walks and coastal walking tracks are plentiful, including the particularly stunning Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway. The many trails have even inspired the annual Mangawhai Walking Weekend, a celebration of getting outdoors and appreciating the area’s natural beauty. The festival has since become a highlight of the calendar, with Mangawhai now affectionately known as the Walking Capital of the North!
All this being said however, the jewel in Mangawhai’s crown has got to be the extremely beautiful Mangawhai Heads Beach. This golden stretch lies just out of the main township, and really has something for everyone. You can either enjoy the waves of the surf beach, or head around the corner to the estuary for calmer waters. The sheltered estuary is also popular with the local marine life; you might even be lucky enough to see the dolphins come to visit! If you’re looking to stay a night or two in the area, Mangawhai Heads Holiday Park is recommended, located right on the waterfront.
Moving up, the next Northland main centre is the vibrant, subtropical city of Whangarei. This place has everything from natural beauty to charm and personality, so you’re bound to fall a little bit in love with it. One of the area’s main highlights has got to be Mt Parihaka, New Zealand’s largest Maori pa site (fortress). At 241 metres above sea level, Parihaka is Whangarei’s highest point, and provides stunning views from the summit.
If you take a look around town, you’re bound to find art and sculptures absolutely everywhere. Call it what you will, it’s just Whangarei’s way of expressing itself. There is also dining scene to rival even the big cities, so be sure to try out as many of the area’s cafes & restaurants as you can. Many are located right by the waterside, and all offer delicious flavours & warm smiles.
Whangarei also has plenty of outdoor activities for you to enjoy, such as surfing, kayaking and walking. If you’re looking to go exploring, there are several picturesque waterfalls around the district for you to discover, with some measuring over 25 metres high!
In the heart of the Far North district lies sunny Kaitaia, widely known as New Zealand’s most northern town. While warm and beautiful in itself, Kaitaia also serves as the gateway to several other must-visit locations. These include New Zealand’s northernmost point, and the fabled sands of Ninety Mile Beach. If you keep driving north from Kaitaia, you’ll eventually run out of road at Cape Reinga. The Cape is crowned by its iconic lighthouse, and a weathered pohutukawa tree right at the at the tip. A sacred site to Maori, the tree is believed to be nearly 1,000 years old. Off the coast, you can see two oceans collide in a spectacular swirl of currents as the Tasman meets the Pacific.
Stretched between Kaitaia and Cape Reinga, you’ll find one of the most well-known beaches in New Zealand. Despite being far away from any main centre, Ninety Mile Beach is widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s favourite shores. The almost never-ending paradise is renowned for its awe-inspiring sunsets and quality surf breaks. At 88 kilometres long, you’re also guaranteed not to run out of beach if you decide to go for a stroll!
If you decide you’ve done enough driving by the time you reach Kaitaia, make use of a guided coach tour, leaving daily from the township. As well as taking you up to Cape Reinga, the tour also travels along Ninety Mile Beach itself! Taking around 1.5 hours each way, the tour offers both stunning sights and intriguing stories, bringing the area’s rich history to life against its beautiful backdrop.
Breath-taking views of a stunning lagoon-style harbour and dunes. Mangawhai Heads Holiday Park offers a peaceful, relaxing holiday on a pristine white sandy beach, 90 minutes North of Auckland on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway.