Heading up north? Want to take the road less travelled? Avoid the traffic and take a Northland road trip up the Kauri Coast. North of Auckland on State Highway 1 traffic normally builds up so before reaching Orewa your best bet is to get off at Redvale and head inland towards Kaukapakapa. Taking Highway 16 north you’ll meet up with Highway 1 again in Wellsford and take Highway 4 until Brynderwyn. The road is open travelling and the scenery with the Kaipara Harbour to the left is beautiful. This is definitely the longer way round but heading inland from coast to coast is much better than being stuck in traffic and as any regular traveller knows it can take longer when the traffic is moving at a snails pace.
Once over the Brynderwyn Hills take a left along Highway 12 until you reach the Kauri Museum located in Matakohe. The Kauri Museum has the largest collection of kauri gum plus display settings from early pioneering life including the tools and machinery they used to chop and mill these magnificent giant trees. To show pioneering life the local church has been restored, which was made entirely out of kauri, so if you are at all interested in the pioneering history of New Zealand or are a hobby wood worker this museum is a site to see. If the museum is not your thing you can continue along Highway 14 until you reach the Waipoua Forest which holds the largest number of giant kauri in New Zealand.
The largest of these kauri is the 2,000 year old Tane Mahuta, (lord of the forest), second of which is older Te Matua Ngahere, (father of the forest). It is worth going to see Te Matua Ngahere as its trunk diameter reaches 5 metres in width but also because it is a 20 min walk through the beautiful kauri forest. Close by are ‘The Four Sisters’, four very tall and graceful standing trees.
I strongly recommend going to see all these great trees as you will never see specimens like these anywhere else. The native Kauri are under threat from a the disease Kauri Dieback, so please follow instructions as to how to protect the forest.
There are other beautiful attractions up the west coast. Kai Iwi Lakes, is a popular spot for water activities, walking tracks, sheltered camping and picnic sites. Further on you will reach the shores of Hokianga Harbour. Here the must-stop place is the Boatshed Cafe, where the cuisine is local and fresh.
Feeling refreshed you can drive your hire car onto the ferry to get across the harbour. From there the road travels along the shores of the Hokianga as you wend your way north.
Further on from here if you stay on the west coast you will make it to Ahipara, famous for it’s long surf rides and 90 mile beach. This is majestic country, out of the rush, where you can just keep travelling until you make it to Northern most point of Cape Reinga. By now you will be nicely relaxed and ready for the trip back down the eastern side where you will start finding the road more travelled.
Driving the alternative route up to Northland will give you the chance to enjoy spectacular scenery, appreciate our incredible natural wonders and beat the rush of other road trip travellers, which at times from Friday midday to Sunday evening can be really busy, especially coming out of Auckland as people escape the city for the weekend.
Northland Travel By Hire Car
Getting around Northland and exploring the Kauri Coast is easy and so affordable with a hire car from one of our handy rental car branches in Auckland or Whangarei. You can travel to your own timetable, stopping where you like and taking your time to discover the natural beauty of the region at your leisure.
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