6 Things to do in New Zealand’s Northland
New Zealand’s Northland is synonyms to family fun in the sun, pohutukawa in bloom, and dolphins frolicking in flat bays. It is just rustic beaches without a scrap of development or throngs. It is known for its spectacular remnants of the ancient kauri forests that once covered the top of the country. And it’s a place where history is witnessed and the site of the earliest settlements of both Māori and Europeans. It is undoubtedly the birthplace of the nation. Here are the 6 Things To Do In New Zealand’s Northland.
Here are six of the popular sights and activities
1. End of the road at Cape Reinga
Where the waters of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet at Cape Reinga, waves break up to 10m high in stormy weather. This dramatic headland is the end of the road both literally and figuratively: It’s where State Hwy 1 terminates but it’s also where, in Māori tradition, the spirits of the dead depart the world – making it the most sacred site in all of Aotearoa (the Māori name for New Zealand).
Few road trips are as magical as Northland’s Twin Coast Highway, which traces a seemingly endless procession of beautiful beaches and harbours, and reaches the remote extremety of Cape Reinga. Also known as Te Rerenga Wairua, this unforgettable place is where spirits are said to leap off on their final journey, across the swirling waters where two oceans meet.
2. History at the Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand’s top summertime hubs; and its turquoise waters and several rusty and unexploited islands are huge tourist spots. Big-game fishing, yachting, kayaking, cruising, and driving around in the company of whales and dolphins are the primary attraction. It is also a center of enormous historical significance.
With warm, calm water year-round, the Bay of Islands is a marine playground; perfect for swimming, boating, fishing, diving and kayaking. Explore its beautiful beaches or get out on the water with a cruise.
The region is renowned for its native wildlife; including marine mammals like dolphins, seals and whales, and a range of birdlife. View our Bay of Islands wildlife guide.
Fullers GreatSights offers a wide range of cruises around the Bay; as well as tours to neighbouring regions like the Hokianga and Far North.
Surrounded by rolling farmland and native bush, the Bay is a popular spot for walking and hiking. Find out more about Bay of Islands walks.
3. Surf at Ninety Mile Beach
You must not miss out on visiting the west coast of the Aupouri Peninsula; a giant diving board, Ninety Mile Beach, which is located as a continuous stretch lined with high sand dunes. The amazing beach town of Ahipara is the edge of the beach; where everything is real, rubbing shoulders with visiting travelers, sand boarders, and quad-bike riders.
Ninety Mile Beach in Northland is an exposed beach break that has dependable surf Offshore winds from the east northeast; and there is no shelter here from cross shore breezes. Tends to receive distant groundswells and the ideal swell direction is from the southwest. The beach break offers both left and right hand waves. Even when the surf is up, crowds are unknown. Watch out for rips, soft sand.
4. Ecological Significance at Waipoua Forest
This is a great forest sanctuary and is the largest remnant of the nation’s once-extensive kauri forests. A kauri, which can stretch up to 60m in height and have a trunk more than 5m in diameter, is an awe-inspiring sight and one of the nation’s treasures. Te Roroa, the local iwi (tribe), manages the forest as part of the Treaty of Waitangi, and also operates the visitor center, café, and campground.
Of all New Zealand’s kauri forests, none is as famous as Waipoua Forest on the west coast, just north of Dargaville. As the largest remaining tract of native forest in Northland, Waipoua is an ancient green world of towering trees and rare birds. The highway through the forest is memorable for the natural gateways created by huge kauri trees and the fringing of colourful ferns along the road’s edge.
5. Race Relations at Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Waitangi Treaty Grounds is located on the Bay of Islands, wherein in 1840, the first 43 Māori chiefs signed a contested sovereignty pact with the British Crown. These grounds are a warts-and-all memorial to both colonial and Māori culture and history. You can visit here through a guided tour, a cultural performance, and entry to the Museum of Waitangi, the Whare Rūnanga including the Treaty House.
Enjoy an inspiring and interactive full-day experience through Waitangi’s two contemporary museums, powerful Māori cultural performances in an authentic Meeting House, informative guided tours, engaging visitor centre, lush native forest and gardens, inspiring art gallery and carving studio, traditional Māori waka (canoe) and hāngi, tranquil café and so much more, all with stunning views over the Bay of Islands.
The award-winning Waitangi Treaty Grounds is a must-visit for all visitors to the Bay of Islands.
6. Enjoy the waves at Mangawhai Heads
The surf beach at the northern head of Mangawhai’s large estuary is a great place and the large beach-side car park fills up fast in surfing season. The village is a laid-back and undeveloped New Zealand beach town. It is the best place for a natural excursion, where you’ll find a seabird sanctuary and a short kayak across the estuary. Make sure to avoid dotterels and fairy terns nesting here.
Mangawhai offers a range of activities including water-sports, a world-class 18-hole championship golf course, wineries, Bennetts Chocolate factory, and a fabulous museum that tells the amazing history of the region.
Charter boats are available to take you fishing or diving; you can also surf cast off the beach. Other local activities include donkey rides and mini-golf.
So, if you are planning to pay a visit to New Zealand on your next vacation, do not miss out to visit above top New Zealand’s Northland destinations.