Top 10 things to do in Whangārei

While it's easy to fall into Whangārei's relaxed vibe and let the days slide blissfully by, we recommend you stir yourself into action whenever you can.

You won't want to miss the coastal walks, forest adventures, snorkelling trips and historic places that make this part of Northland memorable and unique. Check out our list of top things to do in Whangārei and nearby.

1. Dive or snorkel at the Poor Knights

Jacques Cousteau rated the Poor Knights Islands in the Top 10 of the world's best dive sites.  Boats leave daily from Tutukaka and snorkelling is an option if you don't have scuba experience. If you'd rather stay dry, one of the operators offers underwater camera viewing of the crystal-clear marine environment below.  

2. Take a hike

The Mt Manaia Track near Whangārei Heads is a sightseeing walk you'll remember forever. A mixture of stairs and pathways, it climbs through lush native forest to a summit view that will blow your mind. At the top you'll see the strange volcanic extrusions that give the mountain its distinctive look.

3. Picnic at a waterfall

Just off the road to Ngunguru, Whangārei Falls (Otuihau) is a classic curtain waterfall that's an impressive 26 metres high. Pack a picnic and spend an hour or two soaking up the gorgeous scenery. There's a 30-minute loop track to explore and swimming's an option in summer and autumn. 

4. Mosey around the market

If you're wondering what to do in Whangārei on a Saturday morning, the Whangārei Growers' Market is one of the biggest markets in New Zealand. It's all about local produce, artisan food, live entertainment and good coffee. Expect to leave with a load of delicious stuff, because the region around Whangārei has a superb subtropical growing climate.

5. Be awestruck by kauri trees

The AH Reed Memorial Park in Whangārei has a spectacular canopy walk that gets you up close to native kauri trees that are up to 500 years old. A pretty stream runs through the park and there's a 23-metre waterfall to discover as well. Visiting this park is one of the best free things to do in Whangārei.

6. Fly through the forest

Glenbervie Forest near Whangārei has a tree-tops fun park full of climbing circuits, zip lines and…trees! There's something for everyone, whether you're a tree hugger, a daredevil or holidaying with a bunch of kids. Safety gear and training is part of the package.

7. 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. A day pass is valid for two consecutive days. This experience is always winning awards, so expect to be impressed.

8. Cruise the Bay of Islands

Just north of Whangārei, in the town of Paihia, you can arrange to see the beautiful Bay of Islands by sea kayak, sailboat or fast ferry. Some of the boat trips go out to the Hole in the Rock (Piercy Island), at the tip of Cape Brett. Dolphin sightings are always a possibility during Bay of Islands adventures.

9. Zoom down the dunes

From Whangārei it's easy to take a day trip to the Hokianga Harbour on the west coast, where you'll find the seaside town of Opononi. Local operators here can zoom you over the water to sandboard down the giant sand dunes in the northern side of the harbour. It's a total blast.

10. Cycle from coast to coast

North of Whangārei is the starting point for the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, 87 kilometres of gorgeous scenery and local hospitality that stretches all the way to historic Horeke in the Hokianga region. The trail is divided into four sections, so if you don't have time for the entire journey you can have a one-day adventure.

Keep exploring Whangarei

Opua cycling image courtesy of David Kirkland; Te Paki sandboarding image courtesy of David Kirkland; Smuggler's Bay image courtesy of Northland NZ; Bream Head image courtesy of David Kirkland