20 things to spend a little bit longer doing in Taitokerau Northland
With the new motorway between Puhoi and Warkworth open it’s time to take 20 minutes, #NorthlandStyle and spend a little longer doing the things you love, seeing a little more, and making memories. Here’s 20 things you can spend that little extra time doing on your next trip to Taitokerau Northland.
1. Soaking in the hot pools at Ngawha Springs. There are 16 geothermal pools of varying temperature, colour, and mineral composition to try, so spend the full allotment of time testing each one out!
2. Admiring the art inside the Hundertwasser Art Centre. A guided tour at the Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery takes approximately an hour, but we highly recommend taking a little bit longer here to admire the art, spend time on the Afforrested Rooftop, or even enjoying a coffee at Aqua Restaurant inside the building.
3. Gazing up at the giant kauri trees in Waipoua Forest, Trounson Kauri Park, Puketi Forest or AH Reed Memorial Park. Each of these ancient living forests have walks of varying lengths but you could easily spend an extra 20 minutes just staring up at the gigantic trees.
4. Swimming at one of the beaches in Doubtless Bay. Doubtless Bay is a paradise of golden sandy beaches, and between here and Kaitaia, they say there are approximately 20 beaches all within 20 minutes. Take that extra time to enjoy a relaxing dip in a sheltered cove or try your hand at bodysurfing at one of the surf beaches.
5. Climbing back up and sandboarding back down a sand dune at Te Paki Sand Dunes. The dunes are deceptively high, so you could easily spend an extra 20 minutes doing just one or two more rounds of climbing up and boarding down for an extended adrenalin fix!
6. Catching one more wave at Sandy Bay. There are many surf spots around the region, and Sandy Bay is one of the most popular. If you haven’t got your own gear (or a clue of what to do) check out Surf Tutukākā who offer lessons and board hire.
7. Listening to the birdsong on one of the Project Island Song islands. Project Island Song has been working to restore and protect the natural ecosystems of Ipipiri, the seven eastern islands in the Bay of Islands. Keep an ear out for the sounds of reintroduce tieke, kākāriki, toutouwai, and many more thriving species.
8. Paddleboarding at the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve. Visiting the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve is a full day trip, but while you’re out there it’s definitely worth spending an extra 20 minutes trying out something like paddleboarding, kayaking or snorkelling. You’ll be surprised by how much you can see from the surface in this marine wildlife mecca.
9. Kayaking around the Bay of Islands. Whether you take a kayak out from Paihia Beach or head out to Otehei Bay and hire a kayak there, there’s so much to see from the water around the Bay of Islands. Spend an extra 20 minutes paddling around the next rocky outcrop or exploring the hidden caves and coves that most boats and tours zip right past.
10. Watching the kiwi inside Kiwi North’s nocturnal kiwi house. There are two kiwi inside the house where day is actually night, so you can easily spend 20 minutes watching them forage for food, and interaction in their enclosure just like they would in the wild.
11. Experiencing the new Forest Walkway at the Kauri Museum. Just recently opened, the new Forest Walkway features a forest of tall light box “trees” and takes visitors back in time to when kauri emerged in Gondwanaland.
12. Listening to the stories of the Hokianga at the Manea Footprints of Kupe. The main tour takes approximately 75 minutes and includes storytelling, a pōwhiri and a 4d theatre experience but you can definitely spend another 20 minutes at the end in Footprints of Kupe interactive gallery where digital stations tell many more stories of the region.
13. Stop the Country Food Kiosk at Snows Farm along the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail. If you’re cycling this Great Ride, you’ll definitely enjoy spending 20 minutes on a wee break beside the river enjoying a home-baked scone or the like.
14. Having a quick dip at Smugglers Bay. The loop track takes approximately 1.5hrs to walk, but an extra 20 minutes spent cooling off with a swim in the inviting blue waters is always a great idea.
15. Jumping off the pontoon at Kai Iwi Lakes. Actually any additional time spent at Kai Iwi Lakes is always time well spent but embracing your inner child, swimming out and jumping off the pontoon is always great for an endorphin boost.
16. Reading the storyboards along the Hātea Loop. The Hātea Loop takes roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour, but you could easily add an extra 20 minutes if you stop and read the Heritage Panels along the way. They tell both the Māori and European history of the area, including how Whangārei and other key locations within Whangārei got their names.
17. Having a coffee on the Russell waterfront. Having a coffee anywhere is a good way to spend an extra 20 minutes, but the Russell waterfront takes it to the next level for people (and boat) watching, stunning views, and of course outstanding manaakitanga.
18. Taking a longer lunch at a local winery. Forget a quick lunch on the go, drag it out and spend 20 (or 40, or 60) minutes more enjoying a long lunch. Our pick? One of the local wineries is always a good choice, like Marsden Estate or Omata Estate where you can taste the local goods alongside the estate tipples.
19. Perusing the artisan avenue and markets in Kerikeri. Every weekend the Old Packhouse Markets come to life with loads of food, farmers and artisan market stalls. If you’re not there for the weekend then don’t miss the “artisan avenue” that is the main street into Kerikeri where you’ll find boutique producers, lux and local retailers, and art galleries.
20. Wandering a museum at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. When you visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, you’ll likely end up taking the guided tour and cultural performance, but it’s always a good idea to take a little extra time and wander the two museums on the grounds too. The storytelling is world-class and you’ll find yourself wishing you planned even longer here.