The Northlands of New Zealand are an adventurer’s wonderland, with sweeping coastlines, epic marine parks, soaring mountains and hidden caves. Whangarei, with its charming harbourside location and abundance of local activities, is the perfect place to base yourself as you take in the best of what the famous Northlands has to offer. It’s just over 2 and a half hours driving from Auckland making it a great day trip location!
The great outdoors
Whangarei is a waterfall enthusiast’s dream. The most famous, Whangarei Falls, is said to be the most photographed waterfall in New Zealand. Dropping 26 spectacular metres into a stunning swimming hole, it is a must-see on any visit to Whangarei, New Zealand. If height matters, the Taheke Falls has the longest drop in the Northland (at 46 metres) and is well worth the 3km (two-hour) loop walk.
Also worth the walk are the three caves along the Abbey Caves track. Organ, Middle and Ivy caves offer intrepid visitors the opportunity to wander – unguided – throughout these cave systems. Make sure you take the right gear – a torch and decent shoes at the very least, but a helmet is recommended – and be prepared to get wet (the caves have unpredictable water levels within). You’ll see interesting stalactites and stalagmites, as well as some very charming glow worms.
If you want to see the trees from the trees, head to Adventure Forest, where self-guided ziplining is the main mode of travel. Choose your challenge from 12 different circuits over 30 different ziplines, with degrees of difficulty to suit all levels. All safety gear is provided, and the continuous lifeline system means you stay attached as you move your way around the park.
For a more extreme bird’s eye view of Whangarei, you could head to the skies. Skydive Bay of Islands offers the highest skydive in the North Island, reaching up to 16,500 ft. If skydiving is something you’ve always wanted to try, the Bay of Islands is the place to do it. With the undulating hills rolling between dark forested landscapes, and the striking coastline jutting into the every-shade-of-blue ocean, there will be more than the 200km per hour freefall to take your breath away.
Finally, don’t miss your only chance in the Northland to see two of New Zealand’s iconic animals, the kiwi and tuatara, in a captive setting at Kiwi North. Visit kiwis in their nocturnal-style habitat, or catch one of the three daily feeding times. Also on the grounds is the Heritage Park, home to a collection of historic buildings that recreate the Northland’s colonial era, and the Whangarei Museum, offering visitors an insight into the Maori, early settler, natural and military histories of Whangarei.
After all this tramping and exploring, your Whangarei hotel will need to be cosy, relaxing and accessible, and the Comfort Hotel Flames Whangarei fits the bill perfectly. Have a drink by the fire in the Flames Lounge Bar, or in summer ease into the spa or pool and unwind. Plus, all rooms have a patio or balcony, overlooking either Whangarei Harbour or beautiful sub-tropical gardens. Two studios have a kitchen, and two are wheelchair accessible. With free WiFi, parking and a restaurant on-site, the Comfort Hotel Flames Whangarei has everything you need to unwind after an adventurous day.