Located east of Whangarei, the Tutukaka Coast was rated as one of the top coastal destinations on the planet by National Geographic Traveller. It's a detour you won’t want to miss on your journey north.
The first coastal village you’ll encounter is Ngunguru, where a sheltered estuary is protected by a long promontory of sand.
A little further on is Tutukaka itself – diving and fishing charters leave from the town's modern marina. This is the place to catch a dive boat to the world-renowned Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, or hook into a deep-sea fishing expedition, depending on the time of year. With an incredible marine life of over 125 species calling the Poor Knights home, diving at the islands makes for a wonderful experience.
Although the life beneath the surface of the Poor Knights is spectacular, it is most certainly not the only special draw card to these islands. The flora and fauna are also breathtakingly diverse and the steep cliffs soaring hundreds of metres above the waterline show off the Poor Knights dramatic volcanic features that formed due to a large eruption about 10 million years ago.
Just up the hill from Matapouri is the track to Whale Bay. Fringed by large pohutukawa trees, this sheltered beach is both beautiful and peaceful. Getting there along the walking track is half the fun. Beyond Whale Bay, the beaches are more open to the ocean. Sandy Bay is a much-loved surfing spot when conditions are right.
Tutukaka and Ngunguru offer restaurants, cafés and a wide range of accommodation including private holiday homes, resort motels, apartments, B&Bs and a campground. It’s a good idea to book ahead in summer, especially around the Christmas holidays.