Whangarei Rental Car Travel Itinerary
Exploring Whangarei and the Northland region is one of the best road trip destinations in New Zealand. Beautiful beaches, stunning walks and an incredible array of water activities along with some immersive cultural aspects eagerly await travelers to the area.
Don’t know where to start? Take a look at our week long itinerary for the best things to do and activities not to be missed while in Whangarei.
Whether you arrive by air or road Whangarei has everything you need for a great holiday.
- After arriving at Whangarei, lets take a minute to explore the central hub – the Town Basin Marina Village. There are shops and eateries to browse, a number of art galleries, such as Clapham’s Clocks and the Whangarei Art Museum, and a lovely Art Trail and playground for the kids.
- Don’t miss the NZ fudge Farm Café for a quick coffee and some delicious fudge of course. Or try the Riverside Café for a casual lunch that is family friendly and has nice outdoor seating so you don’t miss any of the day as it passes you by.
- The Strand shopping centre is just a short walk away, offering a range of gift stores, boutique fashion and the usual assortment of shops to suit all tastes. Set yourself up for dinner at the Killer Prawn Restaurant & Bar or take a stroll down Bank Street to sample the authentic delights of the Grand Thai Restaurant.
Where are the beaches you ask? Jump in the car, today we hit the road!
- The Tutukaka Coast is the destination for the day, just a short 30 minute drive. Get set for some of the best beaches in Northland along with some amazing diving, swimming, surfing and deep sea fishing areas.
- Book with the Whangarei Deep Sea Anglers Club or Delray Charters for a superb trip of either sightseeing or fishing. You can also organise a dive around the Poor Knights Islands with Dive Tutukaka.
- Stop at the stunning Whangarei Falls for a break on the way back to Whangarei. Stretch your legs on the Waterfall lookout track and get some great photos.
Taking to State Highway 10, let’s go take a tour to Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga.
- New Zealand’s most northerly point, Cape Reinga can be accessed by self-drive car or guided tour from Kaitaia. Sand Safaris, Harrisons Cape Runner and Tua Tua Tours all offer reliable services. If heading up on your own, be sure to pack a picnic lunch there aren’t many shops past Kaitaia.
- The famous lighthouse at Cape Reinga lays 114km north-west of Kaitaia. Witness the convergence of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean here at New Zealand’s northernmost point.
- Heading back to Te Paki where the sand dunes are immense. Select one of many tour companies that offer sand toboggan fun and lunch for an easy afternoon of fun.
After staying the night at Kaitaia, lets head south again back towards Whangarei.
- Stop off at Kohukohu where you can take the vehicle ferry Kohu Ra Tuarua to Rawene. Take a cruise on the Alma Working Museum, or stop in at the historic Clendon House.
- Enjoy the beautiful Mangrove Boardwalk, and drop in at the Boatshed Cafe and Crafts for a leisurely lunch on the waterfront.
- Heading south towards the coast are the twin settlements of Opononi and Omapere, accessing sand dunes across the inlet. Driving through the Waipoua Forest, don’t miss taking the small side trip to visit the ancient 2000-year-old kauri tree known as Tane Mahuta. From here you can make a variety of bush and coastal walks, from 20 minutes to a few hours.
Its time to take a roadie to the Whangarei Heads.
- Taking the Whangarei Heads Road out of Whangarei, this scenic road trip along the eastern side of the Whangarei Harbour is a lovely little day trip. Pass through Tamaterau before coming across the Pines Golf Club.
- The perfect way to stretch the legs, The Pines Golf Club is great for a nice round of golf even if you aren’t an experienced golfer. Be sure to contact the Club ahead of your visit to ensure Tee Time is available.
- Keep following the Whangarei Heads Road to the Whangarei Heads township, enjoy lunch at The Deck café, and explore the many Bays and inlets in the area. Stop off at The Parua Bay Tavern for some wonderful fresh seafood for dinner on the return trip.
Getting up close and personal with some glow worms is whats on the cards for today.
- The Abbey Caves are a network of three caverns complete with limestone formations and glow worms all just 6 km east of the Whangarei township. You will need a reliable torch, good walking shoes and you are likely to get wet so sensible clothing is a must.
- The Abbey Caves are on the edge of the Parahaki Mountain Bike Park with access along the Abby Caves Road. Ask at the Whangarei i-SITE centre for an information sheet about the caves, and never enter the caves alone always take a buddy with you.
Bream Bay is todays destination and bring your swimming togs!
- Just south of Whangarei is the expansive Bream Bay. Surfing, swimming and just strolling along the beach are popular activities. Grab some takeaways from the local store and eat them down on the beach ‘Kiwi style’.
- After your time at Bream Bay is up, head inland and discover the rain forests, waterfalls and the amazing Waipu Caves situated nearby. Piroa Falls offer up awesome little swimming holes and of course the Falls themselves.
- The Brynderwyn Hills Walkway is 12km of great views and a good chance to stretch the legs and the Waipu Caves are great for exploring deep within the Waipu hills. The caves are roughly 175 metres long and you will definitely be getting wet – so be prepared!
- Back to Whangarei for your final evening, treat yourself to some fine dining at the TopSail restaurant on the waterfront.