48 hours in Whangārei
There’s so much to see and do in Whangārei but if you’ve only got the weekend then check out the below itinerary. It’s the perfect way to spend 48 hours in Whangārei.
If you’re based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, we highly recommend taking a half day and hitting the road after lunch. Taking your time, meander off the main highway at Kaiwaka and discover The Welcoming Coast, a Northland Journey known for it’s spectacular coastal views. You’ll also find plenty of great places to eat, drink, and stock the shopping bag on the way.
If it tickles your fancy, go for a dip at Waipu Cove or if you’ve pre-booked you can even take surf lessons here. Afterwards, the Cove Café is a great spot for a cold bevvie or bite to eat, or head up the road to the McLeods Pizza Barn and Brewery in Waipu.
Continue your drive into Whangārei city or where ever you have booked your accommodation for the night. Tip: there are plenty of places to stay around Bream Bay, Whangārei City, Whangārei Heads and the Tutukākā Coast.
If you’re an early riser and love fresh produce, you’ll love the Whangārei Growers Market. Kicking off at 6am, it’s first in first served for the cream of the crop, and you’ll be pleased to know that everything sold at the markets is grown in the Northland region.
Head back to your accommodation to drop off your goods before making your way down to the Whangārei Town Basin. Here you’ll find the Hātea Loop, a picturesque and flat walking 4.5km loop track, the iconic Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery, and a number of eateries with pretty marina views. We recommend grabbing brunch here (check out Aqua or The Quay for menus that feature outstanding local ingredients) before heading into the Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery for a guided tour (pre-booking this is always a good idea). Afterwards, you might like to walk the Hātea Loop or wander through the other art galleries such at the Whangārei Art Museum, Burning Issues Gallery, or Hihiaua Cultural Centre.
There’s many ways to spend the afternoon like tackling some of the epic hiking trails around the region, or visiting one of the many (many, many) white sandy beaches that line the coast. Check out the Northland Journeys Where Giants Gather and Into the Wide Blue Yonder for more ideas.
If there’s one thing every visitor needs to experience in Whangārei at some point, it’s a visit to the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve. Diving is an epic way to experience the plethora of marine life under the surface, but thanks to its unique location and environment, fabulous water clarity means snorkellers and even sightseers above the surface will still see more than their fair share.
Dive! Tutukaka offers two dives on a day trip to the islands, and The Perfect Day cruise is tailored to snorkellers and swimmers who want to an epic non-dive experience complete with kayaks, sea cave exploration and a delicious buffet lunch. You’ll need to allow the whole day for either trip since the islands are located approximately 23km offshore, but this must-do experience is well worth it.
If you’re planning to stay on dry land instead, Sundays are a perfect day to immerse yourself in the subtropical Whangārei Quarry Gardens and enjoy a long brunch at the Quail Café onsite. Follow this up with a visit to the iconic Otuihau Whangārei Falls, or pop into Kiwi North to see the kiwi going about their usual routines inside the nocturnal kiwi house before you make the return trip south.