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New Zealand’s northernmost city, Whangarei is often seen as the gateway to the north. But it’s so much more than a place to stock up on petrol and snacks.
The city lies inland from the Whangarei Harbour, with the Hatea River flowing through its centre and Mount Parihaka to the northeast. The downtown area is nice and compact, making it easy to get around.
Must-see attractions in Whangarei
Mt Parihaka: Take a stroll up the mountain and enjoy the view from 241m above sea level.
Whangarei Falls: These stunningly picturesque waterfalls in the northern suburb of Tikipunga are the perfect place for a picnic.
Town Basin: Check out local art, grab a meal at one of several cafes, then stroll along and look at boats from all over the world in the marina while licking an ice cream. Insiders say the fudge from the ice cream shop is the best in New Zealand.
Whangarei has it all
The brilliant part about basing yourself in Whangarei is you get all the benefits of a city (supermarkets, shops, fast food, fine dining and nightlife) without the hustle and bustle.
From Irish pubs to microbreweries, cocktail bars to down and dirty nightclubs, Whangarei has you covered. The small city centre means it’s easy to bar-hop. Restaurants like Tonic and A Deco have been making a name for themselves, and there’s always something going on at Toll Stadium or Forum North, plus local farmers markets and lively annual events like the Tutukaka Coast Winter Festival.
Day trips from Whangarei
There are so many idyllic spots within an hour’s drive of Whangarei you’ll be spoilt for choice. Make it your base and explore them all.
To the east of the city, the Whangarei Heads peninsula offers open beaches on one side and sheltered bays on the other. Climb Mt Manaia, go kayaking, abseiling or surfing, or just laze on the beach and enjoy some peace and quiet.
Tutukaka Coast & Poor Knights
Half an hour out of Whangarei, the Tutukaka Coast offers more family-friendly beaches around every corner. Tutukaka Marina is and the jumping-off point for a host of deep water experiences. Go big game fishing in the Pacific Ocean, or explore the Poor Knights Marine Reserve on a snorkelling or scuba diving trip and see abundant marine life in crystal-clear conditions.
Whananaki and Mimiwhangata
A little further on, coastal parks like Whananaki and Mimiwhangata are perfect spots to spend the day or even longer. Think golden sands, classic Kiwiana scenes and plenty of room to spread out and relax.
Just south of Whangarei, towards the top of Bream Bay is the beach township of Ruakaka, home to the Marsden Point oil refinery, a port, Northland’s main racecourse, and the Marsden Cove marina. Its surf beach is great for swimming, surfing and kite surfing.
Also in Bream Bay is Waipu, with its Scottish heritage and fascinating caves. Take a look through the museum, or if you’re in town over New Year you can’t miss the annual Highland Games.
Getting to Whangarei
InterCity has multiple daily services to and from Whangarei from towns and cities around the North Island. Fares on all InterCity services start from just $1 plus booking fee. View timetables and book online at intercity.co.nz.
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