6 Things to Do in New Zealand’s Northland

6 Things to Do in New Zealand’s Northland
6 Things to Do in New Zealand’s Northland

New Zealand’s Northland is synonymous with 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 country’s top. 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

End of the road at Cape Reinga
End of the road at Cape Reinga

Where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean waters 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).

Why Visit This Place

You should know that a 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 extremity 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.

When to Visit: Cape Reinga (Te Rerenga Wairua) remains crowded in late December-early January and the middle of the day (11 am-3 pm). If you want to see an area with a lot fewer visitors, visit in the early morning or late afternoon. Gates are close to the car park between 8.30 pm and 7 am.

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2. History of the Bay of Islands

History of the Bay of Islands
History of the Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand’s top summertime hubs. Its turquoise waters and several rusty and unexploited islands are huge tourist spots. The primary attractions are big-game fishing, yachting, kayaking, cruising, and driving around with whales and dolphins. It is also a centre of enormous historical significance.

Why Visit This Place

With warm, calm water year-round, the Bay of Islands is a marine playground perfect for swimming, boating, fishing, diving, and kayaking. You can explore its beautiful beaches or take 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 many cruises around the Bay and tours to neighbouring regions like 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.

When to Visit: The Bay of Islands in New Zealand has favourable weather year-round, so there is no best time to visit; you can visit any time.

You might also want to learn : The Best 11 Things to Do When Visiting Auckland

3. Surf at Ninety Mile Beach

Surf at Ninety Mile Beach
Surf at Ninety Mile Beach

You must not miss out on visiting the west coast of the Aupouri Peninsula, a giant diving board, and Ninety Mile Beach, which is located on a continuous stretch lined with high sand dunes. The amazing beach town of Ahipara is on the beach’s edge, where everything is real, rubbing shoulders with visiting travellers, sand boarders, and quad-bike riders.

Why Visit This Place

Ninety Mile Beach in Northland is an exposed beach break with dependable surf. Offshore winds come from the east-northeast, and there is no shelter from cross-shore breezes. The beach receives distant groundswells; 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 and soft sand.

When to Visit: Once a year in late February or early March, 90 Mile Beach hosts a 5-day fishing competition. This is the time when you can hope to catch the biggest snapper- a delicious white-flesh fish found in New Zealand waters. So, February and March are the ideal time. 

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4. Ecological Significance at Waipoua Forest

Ecological Significance at Waipoua Forest
Ecological Significance at Waipoua Forest

This great forest sanctuary 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 centre, café, and campground.

Why Visit This Place

This forest is known for adventurous walks: 1. Four Sisters Walk, 2. Te Matua Ngahere Walk, 3. Tane Mahuta Walk, and 4. Yakas Walk. Two walks (Four Sisters Walk and Yakas Walk) have been closed to fight kauri Dieback disease.

None of New Zealand’s kauri forests 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.

When to Visit: Waipoua Forest has a mild marine west coast climate with no dry season and warm summers. Better to visit during spring or winter.

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5. Race Relations at Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Race Relations at Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Race Relations at Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Waitangi Treaty Grounds is located on the Bay of Islands. 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 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, and the Treaty House.

Why Visit This Place

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.

When to Visit: February 6th is Waitangi Day in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It celebrates the date of the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Better you can witness this celebration when visiting in Feb month.

6. Enjoy the waves at Mangawhai Heads

Enjoy the waves at Mangawhai Heads
Enjoy the waves at Mangawhai Heads

The surf beach at the northern head of Mangawhai’s large estuary is great, and the large beach-side car park fills up fast during the 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.

Why Visit This Place

Mangawhai offers many activities, including water sports, a world-class 18-hole championship golf course, wineries, Bennetts Chocolate Factory, and a fabulous museum that tells the region’s amazing history. Charter boats can take you fishing or diving, and you can also surf cast off the beach. Other local activities include donkey rides and mini-golf.

When to Visit: October to May is the best time to visit Mangawhai’s head as it experiences the average humidity and temperature then.

Synopsis

So, if you plan to visit New Zealand on your next vacation, do not miss out on visiting New Zealand’s Northland destinations. This country is full of surprises, natural attractions, and rich heritage, so you would love to know more about it. It gives you real entertainment and makes you aware of the history of this country you might not know otherwise.

FAQs

Are there any other adventurous activities to do in NZ?

Skydiving over the Bay of Islands: Experience breathtaking views and a thrilling freefall over stunning islands.

Looking for a relaxing experience? What can I do?

Explore the Bay of Islands by Cruise: Take a scenic cruise, discover hidden coves, encounter marine life, and enjoy delicious food onboard.

What else can I do in Northland?

Cycle the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, visit the historic town of Russell, go sandboarding at Te Paki sand dunes, or enjoy wine tasting in the Bay of Islands.

How can I learn about Maori culture?

Northland offers various experiences – tours, cultural centers, and performances – to learn about the Maori people and their traditions.

Mamta Sharma

Mamta is a spirited writer hailing from Wellington, bringing a youthful zest to the world of digital content. Merging her love for narrative with an eye for detail, Ella crafts stories that resonate and engage the modern reader.