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.
Tutakaka 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.
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.