Whangarei is a short 2 hours north of Auckland, and an increasingly popular destination for travellers. From hitchhikers to families, people are coming to realise New Zealand’s northernmost city isn’t just a place to stop for tea and a coffee while heading to the Northland region. Whangarei district is a North Island destination brimming with attractions, adventures and experiences to explore. To convince you, we’ve assembled a jam packed list of our favourite Whangarei Attractions.
Topping our list, we have the amazing Abbey Caves. We’re always surprised when people say they never knew about this underground wonderland. Only a brief 10 minute drive from the heart of the Whangarei city, visiting the Abbey Caves is an experience you’ll never forget. However, there is some critical preparation needed before you make the trip. The caves offer a raw experience with the caves being unmanned and untouched, and so you need to be prepared with the correct equipment going in. For safety, bring along a headlamp, and high quality footwear. Make sure you let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return (Our staff can help with this). Also, check the forecast before you go. The caves can fill up relatively quickly with sudden rain. A stream runs through the floor of the caves in some areas so expect wet feet.
There are 3 magnificent caves, named Organ, Middle and Ivy.
Reach them from the road. Each offers a different difficulty and accessibility. Turn off your headlamps and look above to see the beautiful glow worms. Watch out below for eels and freshwater crayfish.
We also covered this experience in our Whangarei Walks blog, so for more detail on the walking aspect, definitely look there.
Another opportunity for the adventurers out there, Whangarei’s Adventure Forest is a tree top experience exciting for people of all ages. Test your balance, and push your limits on the 100% safe continuous belay system. The park offers 12 unique courses of different difficulty levels. There are a range of challenges and obstacles including wire traverses, tight ropes, exciting swings, treacherous nets, wobbly bridges and of course a bunch of flying foxes.
The staff provide exceptional training and guidance, as well as all the necessary safety equipment. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing and footwear to have an enjoyable experience.
This is a popular attraction for Whangarei locals and visitors alike, and definitely with a visit. To make sure you secure a spot it’s wise to make a booking. Especially in the busy season.
For an amazing day out high up on the Whangarei Heads, HeadsUp Adventures offers experiences worth making a day of. From monster scooter and mountain bike trails, forest paintball, and a funky cafe there is something for the whole family.
The non-motorised off-road scooters suit people of all ages. Ride down through breathtaking indigenous forest on one of eight exciting tracks, including the fabulous jump track. The team offers safety training, as well as equipment, and a shuttle bus to get back to the top.
A premier MTB experience for newbies, and veteran bikers alike, the world-class trails at HeadsUp Adventures are sure to thrill. All set in Whangarei’s splendid native bush, there are a range of tracks for every skill level and interest.
There’s a convenient shuttle service at the park, so if you’re not looking forward to tiring hikes back up you’ll love this spot. Every bit of equipment you’ll need is available, so don’t worry if you’re travelling light.
Northland’s only forest paintball venue, dodge, duck and cover amongst native bush and cleverly designed play arenas. The minimum group size is 6, so it’s perfect for larger groups.
A world class museum in Whangarei, Claphams Clock Museum is certainly worth making time for! Journey through the history of time, and entertain yourself with the “wacky, zany, unbelievable clocks'' on display. Learn how timekeeping has changed from ancient times using sun, sand, and water, to the more recent fascinating technical marvels. The museum created by Archibald Clapham, a quirky character who moved to New Zealand in 1903 is the most historically significant collection of clocks in the southern hemisphere.
Northlands' only Kiwi House, this Whangarei Attraction is based on a large farm and forest site overlooking the city. Kiwi house is a unique location worth spending a day for. It’s home to 3 key fascinating points of interest at one spot including, Whangarei Museum, Kiwi House, and the Heritage park. The best part, your admission covers everything!
Learn about the Natural history, people and culture of Northland and New Zealand
Home to an epic collection of over 80,000 items, the museum was founded circa 1890. The fabulous building has a bit of everything, from Maori Taonga, a 200 year old waka, extensive displays of Northlands fauna, Military history, and photographic collections chronicling the life of Maori and settlers during the 1900’s.
There are some unique treasures to be found, and learning to be learned. With artefacts and exhibitions you won't find anywhere else in the world, we highly recommend this spot!
Get up close and personal with some of New Zealand’s animal icons. Night turns to day, replicating the natural habitat of the elusive nocturnal kiwi in it’s high tech enclosure. With live food, and space to roam you’ll be able to see how Kiwi live, roam, and preen. The Kiwi are fed daily and shown off by the Kiwi House staff daily at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.
Alongside the Kiwi, Kiwi House is home to a Tuatara and several species of colourful camouflaged native gecko.These reptiles are awesome to look at.
All our native locals make Kiwi House a must see!
The park at Kiwi North will give you a life sized look into early life for settlers to the Whangarei region. The park is home to the Clarke Homestead, a museum in itself, which gazes over the harbour to Mount Manaia. Picnic amongst the beautiful Gardens. Other interesting areas include the Oruaiti Chapel, Whangarei Women's Jail, Riponui Pah School, and Pukenui Homestead. Amongst these features you’ll find a number of vintage restoration clubs and societies such as the Blacksmith’s Workshop, Stationary Engineering Club, and more. These clubs are open to visitors on certain days.
Another unexpected museum in Whangarei, Packard Motor Museum is a surprising find in Whangarei. Home to one of the largest collections of Packard automobiles (and a wide assortment of other people movers and gadgets), you’d be a fool to miss it. The guides here really know their stuff, and will colour your visit with facts and information about the machines and devices on display. So edge back in time through the industrial revolution at this unique Whangarei spot!
Whangarei is blessed to be home to some of the most amazing natural landscapes and experiences the country has to offer. A prime example of this is found in and around Poor Knights Islands. Set 23km off the Tutukaka coast, this international icon offers something for divers and non-divers alike. Enjoy a spectacular relaxing cruise across the ocean to the islands. Once you arrive try snorkelling, kayaking, or take the plunge and scuba dive. These islands are home to diverse aquatic life, mammals, and the world's largest sea cave (marvel at its giant arches). Not to forget, the fascinating pre-european history of the land.
Home to a number of Whangarei Attractions, a day in the city is the perfect way to enjoy our town, living like the locals do. Amble alongside Whangarei town basin, enjoying the Whangarei Art Museum, good food, and one of the best things on earth (the people). The city has a number of options and is a great place to start your day's adventures, as its central to most attractions.
Bream Head Scenic Reserve is an awesome spot for those who love to get out into nature on two feet. It's home to 3 excellent walks, either upward to enjoy panoramic views of the region, or follow the Peach Cove track culminating at the beach. The subtropical climate means the diverse flora and fauna in this area is exceptional, and worth the trip alone.
How could we leave Whangarei Falls off the list? Our iconic attraction has had people stopping for as long as we remember. To truly appreciate the falls we recommend going on the longer walk through AH Reed Kauri Park to wind up at the falls. The natural beauty of this subtropical oasis is seen through the large native Kauri which dominate the landscape. This way you get to experience more of what the city has to offer.
We're proud of Whangarei's attractions, and would love to share them with you. If you're keen to get out there and into it there's no better place to stay than our very own Whangarei Central Holiday Park. Our expert team and facilities are perfect for setting you up for any other adventure our region has to offer. We offer a bed for every budget.
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