Things to do in Tutukaka

Wake up to white sand beaches, spectacular volcanic islands and some of the best sub-tropical diving in the world – all on your doorstep. A gateway to the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve and the surrounding inlets, beaches and walking tracks of the Tutukaka Coast, Tutukaka is a perfect getaway spot in one of the world’s most stunning destinations.

Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve

A person stand up paddle boarding in a dark cave with an opening to clear blue skys
Poor Knights Island. Image by Alistair Guthrie.

One of the world’s best diving locations, the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve is located just outside of Tutukaka Harbour. Take your place on a cruise charter boat at the town’s marina and tour this famous sanctuary. You’ll be rewarded with memorable views of the islands’ giant stone arches, the world’s largest sea cave and thriving marine life. 

Perfect Day Ocean Cruises take passengers right up close to the islands’ sheltered harbour, with a range of activity options that include kayaking, snorkelling or paddle-boarding. You’ll also learn about the Maori history of the area, spot whales and dolphins and enjoy a buffet lunch.

Diving Experiences

a close up of a person scuba diving in the ocean. Bright blue water with lots of bubbles
Check out some of the best diving locations. Image from Matt Crawford.

The waters surrounding Poor Knights Island present some of the best sub-tropical diving in the world. Home to submerged island caves, kelp forests and over 125 species of colourful marine life, this area also presents some of the clearest water in New Zealand. There are also fascinating wrecks to explore. 

Jump aboard one of the local diving tour operators for one of New Zealand’s to explore this remarkable area. Dive! Tutukaka offers diving experiences for every level. For those looking for something a little different, Freedive Aotearoa offers freediving lessons that incorporate breathe work, yoga and underwater workouts in the deep sea.

Hiking Trip

a person on a bike, biking through a forest
Grab your friends and go for a hike through nature. Image from Legend Photography.

Tāne Moana Hike

Tāne Moana Hike is a 13.7km out-and-back trail that starts from Nhunguru and will finish at Matapouri Beach. The hike is a challenging route which can take around 4hrs to complete for the average person. This trail is great for people who love birding, hiking, and walking.

Costal Walks and Beaches

A man and a woman walking along a boardwalk on a beach. The beach is in the background, with an trees on either side
Take a stroll alongside some of the most gorgeous beaches here in the NZ. Image by Alistair Guthrie.

Voted one of the world’s top three coastlines by National Geographic Traveller, the Tutukaka Coast has plenty of great walks overlooking the steep cliffs and glittering harbour. One of the most popular is the walk to Tutukaka Lighthouse. This track winds down to a rocky causeway out to Kukutauwhao Island, before rising to the lighthouse. 

There are plenty of picturesque beaches to enjoy around Tutukaka. Only a 10-minute drive from town, Whale Bay is home to a secluded curve of beach, accessed by a 10-minute walk from the car park. Matapouri Bay is home to a beautiful beach and estuary perfect for kids, and Sandy Bay and the Ngunguru Bar are popular surf spots.

Day Trips

2 people in a forest looking up at a very huge tree
Tane Mahuta, approximately 2,000 years old. Image from Miles Holden.

Waipoua Forest – Tāne Mahuta — 2hr drive

Waipoua Forest is the largest remaining tract of native forest in the Northland. Waipoua Forest features towering trees and rare birds. The forest is also home to Tāne Mahuta, which is the largest Kauri Tree in New Zealand. It is approximately 2,000 years old and is still growing. Tāne Mahuta is called the ‘the Lord of the Forest’ as it’s nearly 18 metres to the trees first branch and 4.4 metres in diameter.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds — 1.25hr drive

Waitangi Treaty Grounds is Aotearoa New Zealand’s most important historic site, where New Zealand’s founding document was signed in 1840.

At the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, you will discover two contemporary museums, informative guided tours, lush native forest and gardens, powerful Māori cultural performances in an authentic Meeting House.

Food and Wine

a close up of a dinner plate with desert. Wine glasses in the background.
Slow down with day trip to a winery. Image from Camilla Rutherford.

Savour some of Tutukaka’s famous fresh seafood. Located at Tutukaka Marina, Schnappa Rock Restaurant and Bar serves line-caught fish and sustainable seafood. Māra at Oceans is another popular local eatery, serving free-range produce as well as sustainably caught fare. 

Nurtured by ocean breezes and rich earth minerals, the Tutukaka Coast is home to great wineries and cellar doors. Sailfish Cove Winery offers a wide range of award-winning wines and spectacular views of the Poor Knights Islands. Waiparore Estate is a 16-acre boutique vineyard producing a range of varietals including Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Syrah. 

Where to Stay

Located at the edge of the famous Tutukaka Marina, Quality Hotel Oceans Tutukaka is the perfect location for access to the Poor Knights, one of the top diving locations in the world.

Guests can also enjoy the saltwater pool or relax in the barbeque area. The on-site Māra at Oceans is also open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a wide selection of award-winning dishes and beverages. The menu features local seafood and sustainably sourced organic produce.

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