Three nights around the very top of the country.
Hokianga – Ahipara - Doubtless Bay – Auckland
Discover the top of the north encompassing Doubtless Bay, Ninety Mile Beach and Te Rerenga Wairua Cape Reinga, a place of spiritual significance for Māori.
With icons like Te Oneroa a Tōhē Ninety Mile Beach and Te Rerenga Wairua Cape Reinga, the very top of Aotearoa New Zealand offers breath-taking scenery with a deep history and culture. Take time to relax and smell the ocean, breathe the fresh air, watch the surfers and look out for wild horses. This itinerary is suitable for FIT’s and couples wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Hokianga – Ahipara
Make your way north via the west coast of Taitokerau Northland. Use the Twin Coast Discovery route to take you to the northern-most reaches of Aotearoa New Zealand. Journey through yesteryear taking in rural countryside on your way north to Ahipara. Check out Shipwreck Bay, aptly named as it was the site of the sinking of many ships, the wrecks of which are still visible at low tide. Bring your surfboard if surfing is your thing or join a horse trek with Ahipara Horse Treks and enjoy the stunning scenery along Ninety Mile Beach.
There is a small selection of accommodation offerings around here from motels, lodges, and boutique offerings. If glamping is your thing check out The Huts, suitable for couples, or the Ahipara Holiday Park which has cabins to rent plus great facilities, perfect for families and groups.
Ahipara – Cape Reinga
Kaitaia is the main centre for the 'subtropical' north. Pack a picnic and make the trip to the Te Rerenga Wairua Cape Reinga at the very top of the North Island (1.5 hours' drive from Kaitaia), following the Northland Journey Te Hiku o te Ika-a-Māui. This place is of great spiritual importance to Māori, who believe it is the jumping-off point for the souls of their departed loved ones making their way back to their mythical homeland of Hawaiki. Please note, you can hire a 4WD in Kaitaia, with Northland Rentals, the only permitted hire vehicles in Taitokerau Northland which are allowed onto Ninety Mile Beach, all other rental vehicles are prohibited on the beach, and only 4WD’s are suitable for driving off-road.
In the morning head to the stunning Doubtless Bay, following the Northland Journey Headlands and Hidden Harbours. Call at Butler Point Whaling Museum, spend time discovering the quaint seaside village of Mangonui, enjoy the famous fish and chips at the Mangonui Fish & Chip shop, or call by the pub and meet the parrot!
In the afternoon explore the stunning Karikari Peninsula, play a round of golf at Carrington Estate, which can accommodate golfers of all abilities. Their clubhouse has spectacular ocean views. Then enjoy wine tasting at Aotearoa New Zealand’s northern-most and award-winning vineyard at Karikari Estate Winery & Restaurant, set in subtropical gardens looking back towards the ocean.
This area has a couple of good-sized hotels suitable for groups such as Carrington Estate & the Taipa Beach Resort, while The Old Oak Boutique Motel is suitable for families and couples.
For dining options try The Thai Mangonui or The Waterfront Café & Bar
Doubtless Bay – Auckland
In the morning head south to the vibrant city of Whangārei which is approx. 125km, and stop in for a morning tea or lunch break at the Town Basin. Once you are replenished visit the newly opened Hundertwasser Art Centre & Wairau Māori Art Gallery, and take a guided tour of the last creative architecturally designed building that Friedensreich Hundertwasser designed before he died. You will be amazed by the uniqueness, romanticism, and creativity in the building itself, with uneven floors and a forested roof with over 4000 trees and plants. There are over 80 pieces of original artwork on display, plus original photos, and information about Hundertwasser and his life. There is a lift for easy access to the first floor and living roof has stunning views of the Whangarei marina and district. Allow 1-2 hours for this visit.
Continue back to Auckland and if you are not in a rush turn off SH1 and follow the Northland Journey The Welcoming Coast, through the Scottish town of Waipū where you can visit the Waipū Museum, or call at McLeod’s Pizza Barn for a craft beer brewed on site and try one of their famous pizzas. Alternatively, stop for an ice cream at Waipū Cove or a bite to eat at The Cove Café. Waipū Cove is a great safe place for a swim with patrolled beaches between April to October. Then follow the coastal route exploring Lang’s Beach and Mangawhai where a stop at Bennetts Chocolates is a must if you have a sweet tooth. This scenic loop brings you back to SH1.