Spectacular Glow Worms
Abbey Caves are located about 4km from Whangarei city. They are situated in a spot that would be very easily missed on Abbey Caves Road at Whareora. When in doubt, ask. The locals in the area will put you on the right track and are usually very obliging.
It is a chance to marvel at the glow worms that dot the caves. The limestone formations are an absolutely incredible sight too. Many hours could be spent here just exploring at your own pace.
Contact the Whangarei Information Centre (92 Otaika Road) to find out about guided tours if you dont have the heart to go it alone. Phone (09) 438 1079.
Beware when going through the caves as often if there has been a bit of rain, the water inside can get pretty deep. When I last went, the water came up to my armpits.
Bring a good flashlight, spare batteries, good walking shoes and your common sense.
- Adventure Travel
Tane Mahuta (Lord Of The Forest)
Waipoua Forest is located 48km's north of Dargaville. Located here, you will find NZ's biggest Kauri Tree known as Tane Mahuta (Lord Of The Forest).
There is lots of different flora and fauna as well as birds for example, the NZ pigeon (kukupa), fantail, pied tit, tui, grey warbler, shining cuckoo, and kingfisher. More uncommon would be the native forest parrots Kakariki and Kaka. Although they can still occasionally be seen. Waipoua Forest is also home to possibly the biggest remaining population of North Island Brown Kiwi.
There are many walking tracks, some longer than others, as well as viewing platforms throughout the forest. Some great photo opportunities are to be had on your visit. All visitors to this area are encouraged to take their rubbish with them and dispose of it in bins. No fires are to be lit in this area and smokers are advised to take extreme care with the extinguishing of their cigarette butts.
Be sure to bring your camera, sunblock and hat/cap during the warmer months and insect repellent.
Be sure to check out the Park Visitor Centre where you can pick up some brochures and see some great exhibits on kauri trees, native birds and wildlife.
Whangarei Visitors Bureau located on Otaika Road at Tarewa Park can provide brochures and more information on directions to Waipoua Forest.
Telephone: (09) 438 1079
- Hiking and Walking
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- National/State Park
Gem Of A Waterfall
The Raumanga Valley Reserve and Waterfalls are definately off the beaten path. Although only small, it is still very pretty and well worth a look, especially if you are looking for a nice spot to have a picnic lunch, or just a break from travelling with a bit of fresh air.
The first part of the reserve is covered with lawn and has the occasional tree perch yourself under for shade during the summer. There are one or two picnic tables available for you to sit and have a bite to eat or simply to have a rest at.
Follow the concrete path up to the top of the falls and take in the views or alternatively bring your swimming gear and take a dip with the locals. The walk to the top takes about 5 mins and is a rather pleasant walk.
Once at the top you can either walk out onto the grass clearing which joins onto Raumanga Valley Road where you can walk down hill past the local houses in the area (my house included) or you can turn around and walk back down the path to the bottom of the reserve.
HOW TO GET THERE
Turn left into Raumanga Valley Road (just before the Information Centre). Drive/walk approx. 1km (2min drive or 10 min flat walk) down to the reserve on the right handside of the road.
Alternatively, park your car at the Information Centre, cross over the little footbridge into the park behind the Centre. Walk across the field and across the long bridge at the end. Turn left and follow the concrete path all the way along until you reach the waterfall. You cant miss it!!!
Enjoy your time with the locals.
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
Kai Iwi Lakes
Kai Iwi Lakes consists of 3 lakes known as Waikare, Taharoa and Kai Iwi. They are considered to be the jewels of Northlands trout fishing. Many people go there during the summer months for camping, kayaking, water skiing, swimming and fun in general.
Kayaks can be hired by the half hour for around NZ$7. Lifejackets are provided and MUST be worn.
There are many bed and breakfasts, hostels, motels, holiday homes for rent etc in this area as well as the camping grounds at the lakes. There are 2 camp grounds, Pine Beach and Promenade Point. Pine Beach's facilities include cold showers, washbasins, toilets, fresh running water and gas barbeques. It can accomodate 500 campers. Promenade Point's facilities include drop toilets, and fresh running water and can accomodate 100 campers. There is no electricity at either of the campsites and dogs are not permitted.
I would advise you to book ahead for peak holiday seasons and long weekends. Bookings can be made through the Kauri Coast Information Centre, Normanby Street, Dargaville. Phone: (09) 439 8360 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dargaville is situated about 55km from Whangarei and Kai Iwi lakes is well sign posted from there (about another 35km's).
- Water Sports
Best View Of Whangarei City
Mount Parahaki stands at 242 metres and has spectacular views of Whangarei city. There are concrete steps from the carpark up to the viewing platform and war memorial at the top. The flare at the oil refinery can also be seen in the distance by day and at night.
The memorial is of an obelisk that has a red crucifix on each side. The crucifix is lit up bright red at night time.
There is also a walking track down to Mair Park.
From the city, drive over the twin bridges over the harbour heading out towards the Onerahi airport. Turn left onto Memorial Drive just before the BP Gas Station. Follow this long winding road to the parking area of Parahaki. (Approx. 15 mins drive).
Be sure to lock your car and hide your valuables!!!
- Hiking and Walking
New Zealand Refining Company Ltd
As you approach Whangarei from the south, there is a small township by the name of Ruakaka. The turn off into Ruakaka off the main highway (opposite the Bream Bay BP Gas Station) takes you to the New Zealand Oil Refinery Visitors Centre. It is well sign posted. Here, they have a 130sqm scale model (including a 20 minute sound and light show) that reveals the workings of the site. There are also various photographs and models that show the refinery-to-auckland pipeline. Your visit here will last about half an hour but well worth it considering admission is free.
After your visit, relax at the cafe over a cup of coffee or visit the nearby beaches with beautiful scenic views of Mount Manaia.
The Visitors Centre is open 10am - 5pm daily. (Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday).
- Budget Travel
Sun, Surf, Sand, Relaxation
Uretiti Beach and Camping Grounds is on state highway 1 as you approach Whangarei from the south. It is approxemetly 6km past the Waipu turnoff.
The camping area has flushing toilets, a cold water shower and fresh running water.
This beach is a nudist beach (clothing optional) and gets relatively busy during the summer. Many families and couples frequent this beach during the summer months. The beach has beautiful white sand and the cool water is very welcomed on a hot day.
There is lots of room to kick a ball around, play cricket etc or if you want a little distance from other people there is miles of beach for you to pick a nice quiet spot, set your towel down and bask in the sun.
Pack a picnic lunch and stop in for a day or just a couple of hours to take in the panoramic views of the islands (Poor Knights, Pinnacles and Sugarloaf).
More often than not, on weekends, there are usually people selling fresh fruit and/or fresh fish on the main road beside the turn off to the beach and camping area. Prices are very reasonable and much better than in shops.
Bring a bottle of sunblock and a hat as the sun is very fierce in New Zealand.
- Gay and Lesbian
- Family Travel
Take A Freefall
If you have the stomach for this sort of thing, then go ahead, take the plunge. I on the other hand, am not so keen on jumping out of a perfectly good airplane :-)
No experience is necessary as it will be a tandem jump and you will be given a 15 minute briefing about landing and how to exit the plane.
Tandem jumps are done at 10,000ft over the airport where you will have great views of the city and coastline.
Bookings are essential and can be arranged at times and dates to suit you, weather permitting.
Price: $240 per person
- $340 per person (with air to air video & photos)
- Sky Diving
Take A Hike!!
Mount Manaia has a walking track, suitable for people of an average physical fitness level. Some skill and experience may be required for the more enthusiastic hikers as there is an alternative route from the summit - 40 minutes one way.
Distance & Time
3.5km / 1.5 hours to the summit, 2.5 - 3 hours return to the carpark.
Mount Manaia is located at Taurikura Bay, Whangarei Heads. It is 403m above sea level. Starting with a steady climb, it gradually gets steeper with views that get more spetacular. There are no safety barriers on this track so much care is needed.
Places To Stay
Peach Cove Hut is the nearest Department Of Conservation Accommodation, which is situated at Bream Head. The hut sleeps 8 people with such facilities as toilet (composting), water and mattresses on bunks. The hut is locked but the combination is provided upon receipt of payment.
Fees: Hut - $10 per night.
Contact number and website below is for the hut. Bookings are essential.
Remember your sunscreen, insect repellant, a hat, warm clothing, water and most importantly of all your camera :-)
- Hiking and Walking
- Historical Travel