Travel Advice & Tips

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Ngawha Springs - Geothermal Pools

© Northland Inc

Traveller Tips: Be sure to allow plenty of time to explore the Northland region. It is a vast and full of contrasts.

Travellers Tips

Take a ride on Gabriel! Bay of Islands Vintage Railway
Take a ride on Gabriel! Bay of Islands Vintage Railway
  • Kawakawa is one of the few towns in the world with a railway track running through the middle of the main street. Take a ride on Gabriel.
  • Northland has many visible remnants of Maori Pa sites (fortified villages) dating back 500 years.
  • There are many diving, sailing and surfing courses in Northland for absolute novices.
  • Wear socks when walking on the hot sand so your feet don’t get sizzled!
  • Meet Tane Mahuta the 'Lord of the Forest' in the Waipoua Forest where there lives some of the largest remaining kauri trees in the world.
  • There are many free-tastings including hand-made chocolates & Farmers' Market treats.
Hundertwasser Toilets
Hundertwasser Toilets
  • Kawakawa is home to the famous Hundertwasser public toilets - a definite must!
  • See the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean colide, at NZ's most Northern point - Cape Reinga
  • A dip in Ngawha Springs geothermal hot pools is a must. It’s therapeutic, and the locals love it!
  • Waitangi Treaty Grounds houses 'Ngatokimatawhaorua' - one of the world's largest Maori ceremonial war canoes.
  • Rikoriko Cave (at the Poor Knights) is the world's largest seacave. It is is over twice the volume of two other known sea caves that claim biggest status.

    Free things to do - 'Beaches/Surfing & Lakes'

Te Paki Sand Dunes
Te Paki Sand Dunes
  • Te Paki Sand Dunes Sand Surfing It's free if you have a boogie board! It’s fun. It’s a must-do!.
  • Shipwreck Bay At low tide, check out the remnants at Shipwreck Bay.
  • Ninety Mile Beach Take a trip on this sandy highway. It's a fun 4WD experience. (You may not be insured in a rental car, please check first!).
  • Cape Reinga Cape Reinga offers wonderful views from our most famous Lighthouse.
  • Langs Beach, Uretiti Beach Dust off your boogie board, get some fresh sea air.
  • Tapeka Point Russell A beautiful white sandy beach perfect for swimming & picnics.
  • Pahi Beach Kaipara Try your luck off the Pahi wharf for snapper or net for flounder.
  • Lake Ngatu Take an easy walk to the edge of Lake Ngatu and relax on the dunes.
  • Lake Ohia - Dry Lake This former lake marks gum digging history & ancient forest remains.
  • Kai Iwi Lakes The crystal clear waters and pure white sands of the three Kai Iwi Lakes.
  • Baylys Beach Dargaville Pack your fishing rods, dig for tuatua or stroll the beach. Take your 4x4 onto the beach and go for a drive down the longest driveable beach in New Zealand. (You may not be insured in a rental car, please check first!).
  • Hokianga Sand DunesA grown up sand pit awaits at the famous Hokianga Sand Dunes.
  • Ruakaka Wildlife Refuge Head out on the Ruakaka Wildlife Reserve estuary walk.
  • Spirits Bay Bring your surfcaster, plenty of insect repellent and explore the isolated beach.
  • Mangawhai If you want a wicked surf beach, sand dunes and a placid estuary.

'Our pick' of Surf Beaches & Coves:

  • Ahipara Best left hand surf break
  • Maitai Bay New Zealand’s most stunning beach
  • The Bay of Islands 144 islands
  • Matauri Bay, the rainbow warrior statue, and the campsite right on the beach
  • Coopers Beach Beautiful beach with always a shady spot underneath the pohutakawas
  • Here is a list of surf & beach locations (wind and wave forecast) in and around Northland

Free things to do - 'Scenic Lookouts'

Mt Manaia and Whangarei Harbour
Mt Manaia and Whangarei Harbour
  • Mt Manaia On your way to Ocean Beach (top surf spot & swimming bay), you can't miss it!
  • Waipu Gorge Scenic Reserve The gorgeous Piroa Falls are a short walk from the car park.
  • Waro Limestone Scenic Reserve Large grassy areas, a lake and fantastic limestone formations.
  • Smugglers CoveIt was a great hideout for real smugglers from bygone times.
  • Kauri Bushmens Reserve A real kauri forest with the Kauri Museum not far away.
  • Scott Point The northern most point of 90 Mile Beach, check out the great views.
  • Mangonui Doubtless Bay Pack a picnic, grab binoculars and a kite and head to the Taumarumaru Reserve.
  • Flagstaff Hill 360 degree panoramic views at the summit of Flagstaff Hill, Russell.
  • Mt Parihaka Panoramic views of Whangarei & remnants of NZ’s largest Maori Pa.
  • Ruapekapeka Pa Kawakawa Check out the Ruapekapeka Pa, the site of the final battle in the ‘War of the North’.

(Mostly) Free things to do - 'Cave Exploring'

Limestone formations at the Kawiti Caves
Limestone formations at the Kawiti Caves

Kawiti Glow Worm caves – (this one is not free)
The Kawiti family have guided thousands of travellers through their caves, including American billionaire Bill Gates who visited with his family in 2007. (pictured: Limestone formations at the Kawiti Caves)

Whangarei Abbey Caves
Go exploring the network of undeveloped caves and natural tunnels of the Abbey Caves. You can see stalagmites, stalactites and glow worms, all for FREE. You'll need to set aside a few hours to do this properly, and you will need a torch, but that is all part of the adventure.. The caves are undeveloped, so all care and safety is required when exploring. Be sensible, bring appropriate footwear (closed in shoes) and all necessary precautions.

Waipu Caves – Stalagmites, Glow Worms

Go underground. Explore the hundreds of metres of underground passageways at the Waipu Caves. The main cave (about 175 metres long) has one of the longest stalagmites in NZ and you might spot a glow worm, or three. From Waipu, head north about 16km and you’ll find the passageways within the Waipu Caves. If you want to experience how the professionals do it, check out Peak Adventures who can be your local guide, or go underground yourself.