Arrive in Whangārei and take a deep, sea-scented breath. Give yourself permission to relax and start thinking about what makes you happy. With idyllic harbour and ocean beaches, extraordinary (and walkable) forested mountains and a big choice of marine adventures close by, Whangārei feels like it's always on holiday.
About our flights to Whangārei
Air New Zealand operates daily non-stop flights to Whangārei from Auckland, with connections across the New Zealand domestic network. With all our New Zealand domestic airfares you can choose seat, seat+bag, flexichange or flexirefund fare types. Flexichange gives you the flexibility to change your flight with no change fees while flexirefund is fully refundable. Find out more about our New Zealand domestic seat options.
South of Whangārei city there's a series of fabulous white sand beaches, including Ruakākā, Waipu, Langs Beach and Mangawhai. This coast is known for excellent surfing and body boarding.
Where to go and what to see in Whangārei
The Whangārei district starts at Waipu and follows the East Coast all the way up to Whangaruru, just south of the Bay of Islands. Whangārei city is compact and has lots going for it, including excellent restaurants, great shopping and close proximity to gorgeous beaches and bays. If you base yourself here for your Northland adventures, it's easy to take day trips in any direction. For a quick overview of things to do in Whangārei, see our Top Things To Do.
Coastal scenery and lifestyle
Holiday central in Whangārei is the Quayside Town Basin precinct, where you'll find waterside eateries and bars, the extraordinary Haundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery, along with other art galleries, a sculpture trail and some unexpected and fun attractions, like the clock museum.
Close to the Town Basin is Riverside Drive, which becomes the coastal road that runs all the way to Whangārei Heads. You could easily spend a whole day exploring beauty spots like Parua Bay, McLeod Bay and Urquharts Bay. Pack your active wear and walk 20 minutes over farmland to check out remote Smugglers Bay - one of the most picture-perfect beaches in the country.
North east of Whangārei city is the Tutukākā Coast, an area that's all about swimming, surfing, fishing, diving and relaxing. There's a great choice of accommodation along the coast then settle in to a glorious laidback lifestyle that's dictated by the tide and the sun.
South of Whangārei there's another series of fabulous white sand surf beaches, including Ruakākā, Waipu, Langs Beach and Mangawhai. You don't have to be a surfer to make the most of the waves; this coast is known for excellent body surfing and body boarding or just sit back and relax.
Enjoy refreshments at a craft brewery in Waipu village and casual dining at the popular café at Waipu Cove.
Discover other outdoor things to see and do around Whangārei.
Leisurely local adventures
A climbing challenge can be found at Mt Manaia, the massive volcanic landform at Whangārei Heads. Climb the track, with over 1,000 steps, up to the summit for panoramic views of the harbour, coast and Pacific Ocean.
There are many other excellent walks around Whangārei: the Hātea Loop is a fully accessible shared path which loops around the Hātea River and has many attractions along the way including a rolling ball clock, camera obscura, sculpture trail, heritage trail and a fascinating bascule bridge that opens and closes.
Te Whara Track at Whangārei Heads is a challenging six hour hike, the Hātea River Walk between the city and Otuihau – Whangārei Falls is 6kms one way, and AH Reed Memorial Park lets you walk among the tree tops.
For an unforgettable marine adventure, catch a dive or snorkel cruise to the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve. Legendary explorer and diver Jacques Cousteau named this place one of the world's Top 10 dive spots and it's being considered for World Heritage status. Trips leave daily from the marina village of Tutukākā.
The Twin Coast Cycle Trail is scoring five-star reviews from adventure seekers from all over the world. It links Opua on the east coast with Horeke on the west coast, covering a total distance of 87km. Friendly townships, including Kawakawa and Kaikohe, provide accommodation and meals along the way. If you're not up to the whole journey, pick one of the four sections for a day trip.
For more adventure ideas, see our story about Whangārei activities and attractions.
Events with a local flavour
If your trip to Whangārei and Northland coincides with one of the region's iconic local events, you're in for a rare treat.
- Immerse yourself in art and craft at the annual ArtBeat Festival and Whangārei Heads Arts Trail that showcase unique art and craft by local artists, many of them inspired by Whangārei's special cultural, physical and spiritual environment.
- Embrace all things Scottish at the Waipu Highland Games. Held on New Year's Day (1 Jan) every year, this event includes highland dancing, live bagpipe music, traditional Scottish athletics and plenty of haggis.
- From tractors to sheep, horses to cows, goats, rabbits and chooks, the Whangārei A&P Show is where the country comes to town.
- Start working on your fitness now so that you can compete in the epic off-road multi-sport Wild Kiwi Race! What a breath-taking way to experience the incredible Whangārei heads peninsular.
- Music and food come together in a delicious way at the annual Whangārei Fritter Festival, held March. Held at the Northland Events Centre, it's a chance to enjoy fritters of every flavour while you appreciate delicious Northland wines and live music.
- Enjoy markets galore including New Zealand's oldest growers market held every Saturday morning in the city, many community markets throughout the whole district and the much-loved artisan fair and night food markets held through summer in the Town Basin.
- Waitangi Day, 6 February, is celebrated with a full range of Māori cultural performances and ceremonies at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
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Keep exploring Whangārei
Best time to visit Whangārei
Whangārei is in Northland, New Zealand's only subtropical climate zone. This region has warm humid summers and mild winters (it doesn't snow in Northland!), so it's comfortable in any season. Summer is the busiest time for tourism so if you want to enjoy uncrowded beaches, choose spring or autumn.
How much will it cost?
This will depend on your tastes and what you want to do. As a rough guide, not including air travel and hotels, you should allow about NZD $100 to $150 a day per person for food and entertainment.
|Auckland (AKL) to Whangārei (WRE)
Cheap flights to Whangārei
Auckland (AKL) to Whangārei (WRE)
*Flight times are based on the fastest route available.
**Indirect flights may also be available for this route.
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