Flights to Whangarei
Arrive in Whangarei and take a deep, sea-scented breath. Give yourself permission to relax and start thinking about what makes you happy. With idyllic harbour and ocean beaches, extraordinary (and walkable) volcanic mountains and a big choice of marine adventures close by, Whangarei feels like it's always on holiday.
About our flights to Whangarei
Air New Zealand offers non-stop domestic flights to Whangarei airport from Auckland, and connecting flights from Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and other regional centres. With all Whangarei airfares you can choose seat, seat+bag, flexitime or flexidate fare types. The scheduled length for Auckland to Whangarei flights is 40 minutes.
South from Whangarei there's a series of fabulous white sand surf beaches, including Ruakaka, Waipu, Langs Beach and Mangawhai. This coast is known for excellent surfing and body boarding.
Where to go and what to see in Whangarei
Whangarei is Northland's main centre; a relaxed sub-tropical city with great restaurants, every kind of shopping and close proximity to gorgeous beaches and bays. If you base yourself here, it's easy to take day trips north, south or west. A rental car is a smart idea.
Coastal scenery and lifestyle
Traveller central in Whangarei is the Quayside Town Basin complex, where you'll find harbourside eateries and bars, art shops, a sculpture trail and some unexpected attractions, like a clock museum.
Close to the town basin is Riverside Drive, which becomes the coastal road that runs all the way to Whangarei Heads. You could easily spend a whole day on this excursion, enjoying beauty spots like Parua Bay, McLeod Bay and Urquarts Bay. Pack your walking shoes to check out remote Smugglers Bay - possibly one of the most picture-perfect beaches you've ever seen.
Immediately east of Whangarei is the Tutukaka Coast, an area that's all about swimming, surfing, fishing, diving and relaxing. You can find accommodation at settlements like Pataua, Ngunguru, Matapouri and Sandy Bay, then settle in to a glorious laidback lifestyle that's dictated by the tide and the sun.
South from Whangarei there's another series of fabulous white sand surf beaches, including Ruakaka, Waipu, Langs Beach and Mangawhai. You don't have to be a surfer to make the most of the waves; this coast is known for excellent body surfing and body boarding. Beach settlements typically have a range of accommodation options, cafés and shops. You'll even find a pub or two, including the waterfront Mangawhai Tavern with its cool Saturday market.
Leisurely local adventures
Glenbervie Forest, close to Whangarei, has become a place to hang out in the trees - quite literally. There are zip lines and climbing challenges for all levels of bravery. Another climbing challenge can be found at Mt Manaia, the massive volcanic landform at Whangarei Heads. Multiple flights of stairs linked by forest paths lure you up to the summit for panoramic views of the harbour, coast and ocean.
There are many other excellent walks around Whangarei: the loop track to Abbey Caves Reserve lets you discover three significant limestone caves; Bream Head Scenic Reserve has a substantial track network; Coronation Scenic Reserve includes two Māori pā sites; and the Hatea River walk, which begins in the town basin, allows you to stroll to beautiful Whangarei Falls.
For an unforgettable marine adventure, catch a dive or snorkel trip to the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve. Diving legend Jacques Cousteau named this place one of the world's Top 10 dive spots and it's being considered for World Heritage status. Trips leave daily from the port town of Tutukaka.
The recently-completed Twin Coast Cycle Trail is scoring five-star reviews from adventure seekers from all over the world. It links Opua on the east coast with Horeke on the west coast, covering a total distance of 87km. Friendly townships, including Kawakawa, Kaikohe and Rawene, provide accommodation and meals along the way. If you're not up to the whole journey, pick one of the four sections for a day trip.
Events with a local flavour
If your trip to Whangarei and Northland overlaps with one of the region's iconic local events, you're in for a rare treat.
- There's a lot of Scottishness in and around Whangarei, which is enthusiastically embraced at the Waipu Highland Games. Held on New Year's Day (1 Jan) every year, this event includes highland dancing, live bagpipe music, traditional Scottish athletics and plenty of haggis.
- Music and food come together in a delicious way at the annual Whangarei Fritter Festival, also scheduled for mid-March. Held at the Northland Events Centre, it's a chance to discover fritters of every flavour while you appreciate the local live music scene.
- The Whangarei Arts Trail, usually held in April, is a way to discover the outstanding work of local artists while you drive the gorgeous coastal road to Whangarei Heads.
- Every Saturday morning the Mangawhai Tavern Market serves up fresh produce, arts and crafts, vintage clothing, flower and food trucks. The market is at the water's edge, so sea views add to the fun.
- In February Whangarei hosts the Northland Pasifika Fusion Festival in the town basin. It's colourful, musical, cultural and delicious.
- Waitangi Day, 6 February, is celebrated with a full range of Māori cultural performances and ceremonies at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, just north of Paihia. It's a gathering to commemorate the signing of New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi.
- Catching a Field Days event in New Zealand provides an entertaining insight into rural life. In Northland the event is held in Dargaville around the end of February. From a tractor pulling competition to down-home country eats, there's a lot to enjoy.
- Start working on your fitness now so that you can compete in the 90-mile Beach Race, held in mid-March every year. It includes a walk, half-marathon, full marathon and ultra-marathon. What a breath-taking way to see 90 Mile Beach!
Top 10 fun things to do in and around Whangarei
- Dive or snorkel at the Poor Knights
Protected since 1981, the Poor Knights Islands is one of the world's best diving and snorkelling sites. Boats leave from Tutukaka.
- Take a hike
Walk to the summit of Mt Manaia at Whangarei Heads or trek along Cape Brett to the lighthouse.
- Picnic at a waterfall
Enjoy a couple of tranquil hours at Whangarei Falls next to the city or Haruru Falls inland from Waitangi.
- Mosey around the market
Whangarei's Saturday morning market is one of the biggest in New Zealand. Shop, eat and chat with the locals.
- Be awestruck by kauri trees
The AH Reed Memorial Park in Whangarei has a spectacular canopy walk that gets you up close to kauri trees that are up to 500 years old.
- Fly through the forest
Whangarei's Glenbervie Forest has a tree-tops fun park full of climbing circuits, zip lines and…trees!
- Visit Waitangi
At the Waitangi Treaty Grounds you can learn about an important moment in time for New Zealand. Wander the grounds, enjoy the museum and catch a Māori cultural performance.
- Cruise the Bay of Islands
Just north of Whangarei, in the town of Paihia, you can arrange to see the beautiful Bay of Islands by sea kayak, sailboat or fast ferry.
- Zoom down the dunes
Slide down giant dunes on a sandboard at Opononi or Te Paki. It's a thrill like no other.
- Cycle from coast to coast
North of Whangarei is the starting point for the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, 87 kilometres of gorgeous scenery that stretches all the way to historic Horeke in the Hokianga region.
Whangarei is in Northland, New Zealand's only subtropical climate zone. This region has warm humid summers and mild winters, so it's comfortable in any season. Even if winter, Northland's temperatures seldom get down to single figures. Summer is the busiest time for tourism. If you want to enjoy uncrowded beaches, choose spring or autumn.
This will depend on your tastes and what you want to do. As a rough guide, not including air travel and hotels, you should allow about NZD $100 to $150 a day per person for food and entertainment.
There are no mandatory vaccinations required for visitors to New Zealand.