48 hours in Northland for the Australia and New Zealand Women’s Rugby World Cup games
Are you heading up to Whangārei for the Women’s Rugby World Cup games? Here’s how to make a weekend of it!
This itinerary is based on a Saturday game day, but could easily work for a Sunday game day too.
Hit the road north
If you can hit the road from Auckland by early afternoon on Friday, then make your way north towards Kaiwaka. Take a detour from State Highway 1 out towards Mangawhai, along The Welcoming Coast route, a Northland Journey that invites you to embrace the Northland way of life. If you’re early enough, you’ll be able to duck into Bennetts of Mangawhai to stock up on decadent hand-crafted chocolates, before heading down to Mangawhai Heads to check out the surf and majestic coastal views.
Come dinner-time you’ll have a choice to make. Stick around here and dine at the Wood St shops or back at The Dune, or head further north along the coast to Waipū Cove and Village. The Cove Café and the famous McLeods Pizza Barn are equally tempting for a quality meal.
Choose to stay over down here in a beachfront motel, BnB, or campsite, or make the 30 minute trip into Whangārei city for the night.
You can’t visit Whangārei without a stop in at the Whangārei Town Basin. Tuck into brunch at one of the waterfront eateries like The Quay, or Aqua and enjoy delicious local produce with great coffee. Afterwards, a visit to the Hundertwasser Art Centre should be on the cards. This unmissable building opened to the public earlier this year, and showcases a collection of Hundertwasser artwork, details of Hundertwasser’s life, as well as Aotearoa New Zealand’s only dedicated public Māori art gallery, and a forested rooftop! That’s not all to discover down here though, as the Hatea Loop Walk heads off alongside the river, through a sculpture trail, past a GiraGlob, across the award-winning Te Matau ā Pohe bridge and behind the Camera Obscura. Still got time up your sleeve before the games? Check out the Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary, Kiwi North’s nocturnal kiwi house, or the Whangārei Quarry Gardens.
After the games, head back into town for a bite to eat. No. 8 in the Town Basin is great for groups who want to share plates of Asian-fusion cuisine, Loco has a South American-inspired tapas menu (although the cocktails usually steal the show), while Tide down at Port Nikau is an elegant restaurant perfect for impressing the other half. We recommend making a reservation wherever you plan on ending up.
Make the most of it
If you have to head back for the next lot of games then squeeze in a brunch at Quail Café and a walk through the Quarry Gardens before you leave. If you’ve got more time free, a day out at Tutukākā is must do. Full day trips to the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve depart from here, so pre-book either a dive trip with Dive! Tutukaka or a sight-seeing, kayaking, and snorkelling trip with The Perfect Day. Alternatively, check out some of the popular beaches like Whale Bay and Matapouri, grab lunch at one of the marina eateries, or take a stand-up paddleboard tour with SUP Bro.