Book a campervan and take a tiki tour around your own backyard. Take your time and see everything Northland has to offer. This 7 night itinerary should allow you take in most of the best bits. But be warned, Northlands bigger than you might think and more beautiful than you can imagine.
Travel from Auckland up the west coast through Dargaville and the Waipoua Forest. Don’t miss Tane Mahuta or the incredible lookout at the southern mouth of the Hokianga Harbour. Stop for the night in Opononi. Park at the camping ground and walk to the pub for dinner and a pint or two with the locals. In the morning take the boat across the harbour for some sandboarding. It’s best at high tide when you will hit the water at the bottom of the dunes and skim out onto clear waters of the harbour.
Drive from Opononi to Rawene and take the ferry across to Kohukohu. Make your way via Herkino to Ahipara at the Southern end of 90 Mile Beach. Stay in the Ahipara Holiday park. Don’t miss the surfing at Shipwreck Bay. Also highly recommended is a quad bike ride on Ninety Mile Beach.
Either head for the highway or for the brave (or the foolish) Head up 90 Mile Beach. You can drive up the beach all the way to 90 Mile Beach Holiday park. Then take the road to Cape Reinga and take in the view from the lighthouse. You can’t stay at Cape Reinga so when you’ve seen enough make your way south then turn off on State Highway 10 and make your way to Matai Bay on the beautiful Karikari Peninsula. This is quite possibly the most beautiful beach in New Zealand and the campground is a great place to park your campervan.
Head south on highway 10 through the beautiful seaside town of Mangonui, past Whangaroa Harbour before turning off on Martin Road to Matauri Bay, The site of the Rainbow Warrior memorial. Another stunning beach and a popular dive spot. There’s a great campground, If you can get your hands on a kayak experienced paddlers will love the Cavalli Islands, It’s a full day to explore the closer islands by Kayak but well worth it as there are seals, dolphins and often orcas in these waters.
From Matauri Bay head to The Bay of Islands, Stop at the Stone Store in Kerikeri and make time for a visit to Waitangi before arriving in Paihia. Stay at the excellent Top 10 holiday Park. Make sure you head out on the water. The hole in the rock cruise is excellent as are the dolphin and whale watching trips. The bay of Islands has a resident population of dolphins as well as frequent visits from orca and a range of whales including humpbacks.
Make your way from The Bay of Islands through Whangarei to Waipu Cove. Another stunning white sand surf beach with a great campground.
From Waipu it’s a short drive to Mangawhai Heads. A popular holiday town and very civilised, with a number of great restaurants and cafes, as well as one of New Zealand’s best skateboarding bowls. For surfers Mangawhai Heads is great but the nearby TeArai point is better. Make the small detour, it’s well worth it.
From Mangawhai Auckland is in easy reach. But there’s still plenty of great beaches on the way. If you’ve never been, make sure you stop in at Goat Island Marine reserve. You can rent snorkeling gear and kayaks, or take a glass bottom boat ride if you don’t want to get wet. It’s New Zealand’s oldest Marine reserve and the sea life is amazing. You’ll see huge snapper from the rocks. The Marine laboratory is also open to the public and well worth a visit. Kids will love it.
From there it’s back to Auckland City to return your campervan and back to work most likely, until you’re ready to rent another campervan for an epic trip around the Coromandel Peninsula.