Whangārei activities, attractions and adventures
We're going to let you in on some of Northland's best-kept secrets, like Whangārei Falls, a glass-blowing studio on the waterfront and perfect body-surfing waves in Waipu. They're all part of a holiday in Whangārei, a district and city that's relaxing and laidback, but also totally together.
Kids' activities and family attractions
Whangārei offers heaps of super fun activities for kids. Choose from horse trekking, kayaking, stand up paddle-boarding, learning to surf, 'tree-mendous' treetop adventures, paintball games, monster scooters, mountain biking and a waterpark with an inflatable obstacle course.
Have fun on wheels at the skate park and bike parks on on Riverside Drive with BMX track, the circuit and pump tracks.
Don't miss seeing the kiwi birds in the nocturnal house at Kiwi North. Watch New Zealand's national symbol foraging for food. Once your eyes have adapted to the dark, it's easy to see these unique birds on the hunt for dinner. Their nostrils are at the end of their beak - a characteristic only found in kiwis.
Whangārei has an award-winning aquatic centre that has all the bells and whistles. There's a 25-metre pool for exercise, a hydrotherapy pool for relaxation, a water playground for littlies and a couple of hydroslides for thrills.
If you're looking for an intrepid expedition for older kids who have heaps of energy, head for the Mt Manaia track near Whangārei Heads. The mountain itself is a massive point of interest (like something from a fantasy movie) and the hike up 1,000+ steps is truly awesome, as are the views at the top.
Restaurants and art galleries
Make the most of ethnic and modern casual restaurants in the city centre, the Town Basin, and all around the district, many of them located by the water. Enjoy neon lights and cocktails, handmade bagels and craft beer, fusion food and pizzas by the water.
The Town Basin is also where you'll discover wonderful art attractions including the incredibly unique Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery and Grinter Glass. You can watch master glass blower Keith Grinter playing with molten glass of every colour. Then treat yourself with a purchase of a beautiful piece of art or craft.
Another artistic enclave is the Quarry Arts Centre, an arts collaborative where you can meet artists, buy hand-crafted art works, and enjoy coffee and cake at the café. This centre is on the site of an old quarry, so it's fascinating to see how the space has evolved to suit its new use.
Enjoy superb surfing, body-boarding and swimming beaches within easy reach. Ocean Beach near Whangārei Heads is about 40 minutes from the Town Basin, and north from there you'll find Woolleys Bay and Sandy Bay. All the surf beaches near Whangārei have reliable beach breaks that are compatible with every form of wave enjoyment.
To the south of Whangārei there's a magnificent procession of white-sand surf beaches, beginning with Marsden Point and Ruakākā. Waipu is next in line, with a great beach break and an excellent seaside café. Then you'll come to Langs Beach and Mangawhai Heads, which has a famous right-hander at Sentinel Rock. Find learn-to-surf opportunities at Tutukākā, Waipu or Mangawhai.