The Ultimate New Zealand Travel Guide

               North of Auckland
Time to move on if you want to see New Zealand in all its glory.........the area north of Auckland ranges from small towns to isolated areas.

Route One is the direct route north out of Auckland. Taking this route one can take a detour on Route 26 back to Devonport to enjoy a very vibrant area. (Devonport can also be reached by ferry from downtown Auckland).

The drive on Route One continues north through the North Shore region that overlooks Hauraki Gulf to the east. Soon the heavy populated Auckland region melts away to farm land and small villages such as Silverdale, a small quaint shopping town, and on to Orewa with one of the finest beaches in the country on Whangaparaoa Bay.
I suggest you get off the motorway at Orewa if you really want to see New Zealand other than hurrying through.

A worthwhile side trip is from Orewa to the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and the Shakespear Regional Park is located. At the Marina is a good place to park your campervan free overlooking the extinct volcanoe known as Rangitoto Island.

After Orewa the road starts to climb and twist revealing several overlooks to the area. Waiwera has a great hot pool complex. Continuing north a very slight detour to Puhoi is recommended to see a small historic village still alive and well. Puhoi cheese is well known and respected. Good cafe there too.

From here we go on to the town of Warkworth where it is imperative to take the road east to Matakana, Leigh and on to Pakiri. This is the wine district for this part of New Zealand. Stop at the Ascension Winery to see what is created there - Ascension .
A great park to stay at in this area is the Whangateau Holiday Park. One of those pleasant spots that offers top facilities and waterfront facility.

Another good place to stay the night further on in the area at the Pakiri Beach Holiday Park . The Park offers some of the best of the picturesque North Island. Walk the 9kms of golden sandy beach. You'll love the drive in and out providing you with some real New Zealand. Your first taste of dirt road (just a small bit).

After a peaceful stay at Pakiri it is back to Route One at Wellsford and continue on north.
A detour to the East Coast north of Wellsford takes you to Mangawhai Heads and the startling coast line north through Waipu then a return to Hgwy 1 at Waipu.
Here on Bream Bay is the Camp Waipu Cove campground right on the beach. This has been a real holiday haven for years. have a look at the web page above.

The Sail Rock Cafe is the best in the area at Mangawhai Heads.

An interesting gallery is the Smashed Pipi in Mangawhai. Great beaches along this back route.

Once back to Route One heading north to Whangarei from here. Just out of Whangarei on Ngunguru Road is the Whangarei Falls and the Whangarei Falls Holiday Park a great place to stop and stay to take some time discovering this place. Have a look at the web page above. Nice park with easy access to the Falls.

Northland was the first to be settled both by Maori and Europeans. 175 kms north of Auckland the city of Whangarei the major city of the region. Take a drive to the Harbour area where you can enjoy the shopping, cafe and restaurants of the town. Several good places for coffee in Whangarei:

Our latest find was Nectar Cafe, Banks Street. Top quality everything from staff, to food, to coffee.

From Whangarei we continue north on Route One cutting through the centre of the Upper North and head for the Bay of Islands - one of the jewels of the New Zealand areas.
For those with time and a desire to explore some of the tourist untouched parts be sure to take the 21kms ride to Whananaki a small laid-back coastal community. Stay the night there at the Whananaka Holiday Park - Park Information run by a lovely lady by the name of Jackie. She has kayaks you can use too on the river beside the place.

Also one of the best cafes and galleries we have seen is the Helena Bay Hill Gallery & Cafe on the beautiful costal route toward Russell - Helena Bay Gallery & Cafe.  What a panoramic view. Just fabulous and the owner of the gallery, Peter Brown was the artist who built the place. Well worth the drive out there.
if you really want to explore and discover the real beauty of this part of New Zealand take some of these side road excursions. Pure magic!

Onward and upward along Route One! When you reach Kawakawa take Route 11 to Paihia but first make sure you stop in Kawakawa. Top cafe there plus the world-famous Kawakawa toilets. You read it right...public toilets believe it or not. Internationally renowned painter, architect,ecologist and philosopher, Friederich Hundertwasser lived in seclusion on the Waikare inlet in Northland near the town of Kawakawa.
His colourful ceramic creation for the people of the town won the Premiere Award in Urban & Landscape Design. You just got to experience it!

Then on to the: Bay of Islands:

Russel, Paihia, Kerikeri and a stop at Waitangi Treaty Grounds is a must. This is the treaty grounds where Maori and European settlers signed the Waitangi Treaty in 1840. This is New Zealand's history at level one and also the place where everything up here is centered around. Kerkeri is one of our favourite places and is the heart of the region with the town having top quality shopping. Our choice for cafe is always Posh Nosh. Kerikeri has, without question, the best supermarket in all of New Zealand with the greatest choice of meats and fish I have ever seen plus the Kerikeri meat market has such things as American cut prime rib!


Check out this for a B&B stay in Kerikeri - the Bed of Roses.
They invite you to indulge yourself at Bed of Roses, a Romantic French Country Accommodation.
They would love to treat you to a stay that you will never forget.

Bed of Roses sits on top of a hill with panoramic views over the historic river basin; the meeting of Kerikeri river and the sea inlet. The property is large with no near neighbours to disturb the peace and quiet. Perfectly located close to the Stone Store (the first shop in New Zealand), Bed of Roses is one of the few buildings in Kerikeri that is part of the historic precinct and the town is only a few minutes walk away. They offer three completely refurbished luxury guest suites, each with its own ensuite, and a spacious guest lounge where you can relax and unwind. When you stay at Bed of Roses you will receive one of their famous breakfasts. They love creating delicious, beautifully presented breakfasts that utilise the finest local produce. Your hosts, Cliff and Louisa, have the ability to offer exceptional service without being intrusive. Through experience, they are able to recognise the different requirements of their guests and take pride in making sure that you have a memorable experience at Bed of Roses.

and also check out Landing Cottage:

You are invited to come and share a haven of peace and luxury at Landing Cottage.

It is boutique accommodation for up to 6 people, in Kerikeri, the jewel of the Bay of Islands. A delicious full breakfast each morning from our menu is included in the price.

Landing Cottage is a wonderful place to base yourselves as you explore the magnificent Northland region. We know you will enjoy what the region has to offer and Elaine & Ian are dedicated to making your stay at Landing Cottage a highlight of your holiday.

Situated in an acre of beautiful, private garden, they offer a fully-serviced guest-wing of 3 luxuriously appointed spacious bedrooms, (King, Queen & Twin), suitable for families or groups of friends of up to 6 people.

Guests have their own private lounge, modern bathroom with bath, shower and twin-basins and a separate toilet. Guests also have their own entrance and private patio which gives a wonderful view of the garden.

The exclusive single-party booking policy ensures your privacy and comfort where you are their only guests!


From Whangarei to the Bay of islands is the top big game fishing area of the country along with a lot of special water related sports and excursions.There is a short distance of 14kms from Paihia to Puketona on Route 10.

East of Route 10 there are many roads to the sea where one can enjoy a night at one of the holiday parks available through to Cable Bay. Now Route 10 curves back to the west and at Awanui meets up with Route One. Here is a must stop - The Ancient Kauri Kingdom. You will never see artistic woodwork like this anywhere and all created from 45,000 year old kauri trees. Walk up the centre of a kauri trunk to the second floor.

North now to the very top of the North Island at Cape Reinga is now reached by Route 1. A drive that will take you through the long narrow peninsula with the Pacific on one side and the Tasman Sea on the other.  You may wish to take a tour out of Kerikeri or Paihia. Tour

After the visit to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach we now turn around and head back south. Be sure to see the giant sand dunes and maybe you will be lucky to spot some wild horses. Stay the night at the The Ninety Mile Beach Park.
On our return south we will go south on Route One through Kaitaia and then on south to the Hokianga Harbour area on the west coast area of the north. The interesting sealed side road is from Kaitaia west to Ahipara, south to Herekino and on to Kohukohu where you take your vehicle on the ferry across the Hokianga Harbour to Rawene and on south on route 12. Good cafe and coffee on the northern side of the ferry crossing, the Waterline cafe and Jan McCulloch has the Ferry Stop Coffee Cart that serves real Cuban Coffee!

If you need to stop for the night here there is a small camp at Ahipara. Ahipara camp website. Nothing flash but well maintained.

They call this the Twin Coast Discovery Route. No sense not seeing all of it and not have to go back the same route you came up on. You will miss a very interesting part of the country otherwise. Now we will travel to Opononi and Omapere on the Hokianga Harbour and south through the Waipoua Kauri Forest with massive kauri trees some over a thousand years old. One Kauri tree, Tane Mahuta(God of the Forest) is 51.5metres high, 13.5 metres girth estimated at 1200 years old. The road leads through the forest and a walking track is provided to the large kauri.

Continuing south on Route 12 you will come to Dargaville. Take the road to the coast on the Ripiro Beach one of the most beautiful in the country. Great place to stop awhile.
Information received 20 Sept '12.
Hi Ron,

We have just opened the Dargaville Park Over site here in Dargaville.
​Views of rural landscape and of the Northern Wairoa River. Walking distance to the Dargaville Museum and Dargaville township.
We only take 2 self contained vans maximum unless a group 3 or 4 traveling together
$13.50 NZMCA members or $15 - per van price.
71 River Road, Dargaville.
Contact 09 439 4975 email

Thanks -
​we also run the Dargaville and Kauri Coast Visitor Information Centre
​ and The Woodturners Kauri Gallery

Sue Taylor
Visitor Information Centre, Dargaville & the Kauri Coast
4 Murdoch St, on State Highway 12,
Ph 00 64 9 439 4975


Another holiday park recommended to stay in this area is the Baylys Beach Holiday Park 14 kms west of
​Baylys Beach Holiday Park. Give one of their quad bikes a run down the beach.

From Dargaville we continue south on Route 12 until it meet up with Route One at Brynderwyn.
Along this route at Matakoe is the Kauri Museum. Kauri timber was once the major export of New Zealand as was the kauri gum. In 1899 over 11,000 tonnes of gum were exported and used for making varnish. Synthetics put a stop to the gum digging. When in this part of New Zealand you have to stop at the Kauri Museum.

To stay here in this area check out these places:

Matakohe House B&B is a purpose-built, modern B&B in a colonial style befitting the historical significance of the area. Lyn and Alex invite you to their 'comforting, colonial getaway' on the wonderful Kauri Coast. Their accommodation features period furnishings, peaceful decor and friendly, down-to-earth service.
and the Matakohe House Café: The cafe is open daily for morning and afternoon teas and delicious lunches; all our food is cooked on the premises, the service is friendly and caring. Evening meals are available; however, bookings are essential.


Petitie Provence the eco-friendly Kaipara country retreat 2 hours north of Auckland on the Kauri Coast.
Petite Provence is a quality Matakohe Bed & Breakfast accommodation overlooking rolling farmland and the distant Kaipara Harbour. Situated 10 minutes from the Matakohe Kauri museum, 45 minutes south of Dargaville and 1-1/2 hours south of the Waipoua Forest.

Some Interesting Historic Information on Matakohe -
Matakohe is located on a peninsula on the upper reaches of the Kaipara Harbour 40 minutes drive from Dargaville, 1 hour from Whangarei, 1.5 hours from the southern point of the Waipoua Forest and either 2 hours from the Bay of Islands (via Whangarei) or 3 hours via the West Coast. An idyllic countryside setting between Brynderwyn Junction and Dargaville, only 90 minutes drive North of Auckland along SH12.

It is an area of historic significance to New Zealand in relation to both pioneering and the kauri industry, Matakohe is now home to the largest undercover attraction in Northland, The Kauri Museum. The magnificent kauri tree and New Zealand pioneers are the themes of the museum. Displays include a huge 22-metre slab of kauri, kauri gum exhibits and working equipment, a completely furnished 1900s kauri house, panels of New Zealand native trees and magnificent early New Zealand furniture. A pioneer church, school and post office are part of the complex along with vast collections of original photographs and pioneering memorabilia. This is a stimulating insight into New Zealand's heritage and is a must see when visiting the North – remember to allow at least a couple of hours to see the Kauri Museum.


Another route is to turn off on Route 16 at Wellsford and take the back way into Auckland through the vineyards north of the city. At Parakai are the Thermal Pools you might enjoy.

So now we have made the grand circle of the North up the east side and down the west. Now we hav ended back in the Auckland region and it is time to go south. Several routes south I have pointed out.