Northland: Whangārei-Tutukaka

250 Miles of Beaches!

Whangārei, “Fawn-uh-ray”, waterside, sub-tropical and “the city with 100 beaches”. Overlooked by tourists in their haste to reach the (link) Bay of Islands, we almost made the same mistake.

The name means “lie in wait”. Settlers kept watch over the harbor, now it waits for visitors.

Tutukaka Coast – The Colors Are Alive!

North of Auckland, south of the Bay of Islands, lies one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world! Indescribable until you are there. The Tutukaka Coast is one of the top three coastlines in the world, according to the prestigious National Geographic Traveler.

Matapouri Bay and Beach – Brilliant White Sand

Te Araroa Trail, NZ’s 3,000km Great Walk, (link – The Pants of Perspective, Annie McNuff) crosses the sand, becoming a thin track over the upthrust at beach’s end. Unable to scramble the last few feet at the top, I pondered how to get down without tumbling or face planting in front of beach sitters.

Matapouri Beach has giant sand dunes and a long broad beach. Surf life saving training was in progress.

Whale Bay – Secluded Paradise Under a Forest

If you only visit one beach in New Zealand, make it Whale Bay. A scenic coastal track connects Matapouri and Whale Bays, two of NZ’s BEST beaches.

Tutakaka Lighthouse and Kukutauwhao Island

“Oh, it will be easy”… pretty much… but per usual there were MANY wooden steps. Steep steps down to the small beach with a rocky/pebbly causeway, crossing (at low tide) to Kukutauwhao Island.

Whangārei – Blessedly Scenic

The regional capital and NZ’s largest northernmost city. The Town Basin walking path runs alongside the Hātea River/Marina, with galleries and the Claphams Clock Museum (one man’s clock collection donated to the city – 1300 heirloom and novelty clocks).

A must do is Whangārei Falls – one of 6 in/near the city.

The Whangārei Quarry Garden

An abandoned stone quarry, turned garden.

Mt. Manaia Summit – 1,130 Stairs on the Path.

Mt Manaia at Whangārei Heads is a sacred (tapu) place where Māori placed the remains of chiefs on the rocks. The path to the summit, 460 meters (1500 ft) above Breams Bay, climbs steadily uphill. “Not as hard as it looks”unless you suffer doing stairs.

Mangawhai Heads and Cliffs Walkway

South are the Mangawhai Heads. Oh My God! Start along the beach, climb to the bluff/ridge return.

There are a million things we didn’t do…

Whangārei has day walks and Great Walks, volcanic summits on every bay, roads that dead-end at wild ocean beaches. There are 12 golf courses, horse riding on the beach, snorkeling, world class diving at Poor Knight’s Island, fishing, bird watching (twitchers), yachting, bicycling.

New Zealand – a “total inadequacy of language to describe what you’ve seen.”

Eleanor Cafton – The Lumineers

To see more North Island – click below:


Northland: Cape Reinga

Far Far North – Glorious east/west beaches, Bay after bay is a picture-book spot. Cape Reinga is breathtaking and the point where the spirits of…

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4 thoughts on “Northland: Whangārei-Tutukaka

  1. I am thinking about your travels this coming week and summing up my thoughts not on this particular blog, but all that I have seen from your stunning posts/blogs. I don’t know if we will ever make it to NZ, but we surely have appreciated you telling us the story of your journey to explore the magnificent pools and oceans of turquoise, blues and greens! The skies, trees, mountains, snow, flowers especially the purples when paired with the surrounding colors, and sheep exquisitely compliment all of the water jewels! You have managed to capture the feel, fauna, even the wedas and did I mention sheep (again)of NZ for all of us to share. I think it is something you truly need to experience first hand in order to feel the full intrinsic benefits of such natural beauty on a daily basis! I am thrilled that you have had this opportunity of a lifetime and I know your heart will tug to take you back! I can only think, this journey etched an untouchable space in your hearts and souls. For a long time you have been living in a land of speechless beauty while the rest of the world has been in a state of chaos and “crazyness”. You could call it home in that no other place will ever compare, in more ways than one, to the beauty of NZ! Switch the Kiwi saying to No…Yeah! xo

  2. Spectacular, Marlene – I don’t think I would want to leave!

  3. I’m suffering from total inadequacy of language! How I love hiking vicariously through/with you. The glorious blues and greens, oh those beaches!, the plant life, the stairways to heaven, the waterfall, the sailboat paradise. Thank you for reminding us of the earth’s incredible beauty.

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