Flights to Northland: Birthplace of New Zealand
Free and cheap
A holiday in Northland need not break the bank. Beaches abound. Tote your sunblock to your own unspoilt stretch of sand at Whangarei Heads, Waipu or Ruakaka. It’s black sand for surfer dudes on west coast beaches where the biggest and best waves break. Hiking? Don’t even leave the city. After your flight to Northland just puff your way up the steep bush track of Whangarei’s Mt Parahaki for grand city views.
Eat and drink
Seafood gluttons rejoice! You’re never more than 40km from the coast in Northland. Whangarei’s Town Basin has a host of buzzy, waterfront cafes. Or you can kill a prawn (or pizza) at the city’s popular Killer Prawn eatery. For the best fish and chips in Northland (and perhaps even New Zealand) stop at the award-winning Mangonui Fish Shop in the far north. Wherever you go, ask for local crayfish, paua (abalone) and – if you’re brave – strong tasting kina (sea urchin).
Matakohe's Kauri Museum is a treat for native tree-lovers and promises the largest collection of kauri gum on the planet. Look for the masts of the bombed Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior standing proudly outside maritime-themed Dargaville Museum. Time stands still at the quirky Claphams National Clock Museum in Whangarei and the signing of New Zealand's founding document is showcased at Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the Bay of Islands.
Back to nature
You don't need to launch a major expedition to find some of the planet's tallest trees. Just walk 200m into Waipoua, New Zealand's largest kauri forest. Crick your neck to see the king of them all, Tane Mahuta ('lord of the forest'). Take a night walk in the trees with local Footprints Waipoua guides. You’ll hear Maori chants and eerie calls of kiwi and ruru (native owls), sure to set your spine a-tingling.
Where? Sometimes called the 'winterless north' for its sub-tropical climate Northland, as the name suggests, is New Zealand's northern most region.
Population: Northland’s population is 150,000, of which about one-third are Maori. Whangarei, with 52,000 residents, is Northland's only city.
Key dates: According to Maori lore, explorer Kupe landed in Northland around 1,000 years ago. The first European arrivals sailed in much later, in the late 1700s.
Did you know? Cape Reinga is a very sacred place to Maori. They believe it is where spirits depart for their spiritual home, Hawaiki.