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) volcanic 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 from Whangārei there's a series of fabulous white sand surf beaches, including Ruakaka, Waipu, Langs Beach and Mangawhai. This coast is known for excellent surfing and body boarding.
Where to go and what to see in Whangārei
Whangārei is a little city with lots going for it, including excellent restaurants, every kind of shopping and close proximity to gorgeous beaches and bays. If you base yourself here for 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 10.
Coastal scenery and lifestyle
Holiday central in Whangārei is the Quayside Town Basin complex, where you'll find harbourside eateries and bars, art shops, a sculpture trail and some unexpected attractions, like a 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 on this excursion, enjoying beauty spots like Parua Bay, McLeod Bay and Urquarts Bay. Pack your active wear to check out remote Smugglers Bay - possibly one of the most picture-perfect beaches in the country.
Immediately east of Whangārei is the Tutukaka Coast, an area that's all about swimming, surfing, fishing, diving and relaxing. You can find accommodation at settlements like Pataua, Ngunguru, Matapouri and Sandy Bay, then settle into a glorious laidback lifestyle that's dictated by the tide and the sun.
South from Whangārei there's another series of fabulous white sand surf beaches, including Ruakaka, 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. Beach settlements typically have a range of accommodation options, cafés and shops. You'll even find a pub or two, including the waterfront Mangawhai Tavern with its cool Saturday market.
Discover other outdoor things to see and do around Whangārei.
Leisurely local adventures
Glenbervie Forest, close to Whangārei, has become a place to hang out in the trees - quite literally. There are zip lines and climbing challenges for all levels of bravery. Another climbing challenge can be found at Mt Manaia, the massive volcanic landform at Whangārei Heads. Multiple flights of stairs linked by forest paths lure you up to the summit for panoramic views of the harbour, coast and ocean.
There are many other excellent walks around Whangārei: the loop track to Abbey Caves Reserve lets you discover three significant limestone caves; Bream Head Scenic Reserve has a substantial track network; Coronation Scenic Reserve includes two Māori pā sites; and the Hatea River walk, which begins in the town basin, allows you to stroll to beautiful Whangārei Falls.
For an unforgettable marine adventure, catch a dive or snorkel trip to the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve. Diving legend 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 port town of Tutukaka.
The recently-completed 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, Kaikohe and Rawene, 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 overlaps with one of the region's iconic local events, you're in for a rare treat.
- There's a lot of Scottishness in and around Whangārei, which is enthusiastically embraced 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.
- Waitangi Day, 6 February, is celebrated with a full range of Maori cultural performances and ceremonies at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, just north of Paihia.
- The Northland Field Days event is held in Dargaville around the end of February. From a tractor pulling competition to down-home country eats, there's a lot to enjoy.
- Start working on your fitness now so that you can compete in the 90 Mile Beach Race, held in mid-March every year. It includes a walk, half-marathon, full marathon and ultra-marathon. What a breath-taking way to see 90 Mile Beach!
- Music and food come together in a delicious way at the annual Whangārei Fritter Festival, also scheduled for mid-March. Held at the Northland Events Centre, it's a chance to discover fritters of every flavour while you appreciate the Northland live music scene.
- Every Saturday morning the Mangawhai Tavern Market serves up fresh produce, arts and crafts, vintage clothing, flower and food trucks. The market is at the water's edge, so sea views add to the fun.
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Keep exploring Whangārei
Whangārei is in Northland, New Zealand's only subtropical climate zone. This region has warm humid summers and mild winters, so it's comfortable in any season. Even if winter, Northland's temperatures seldom get down to single figures. Summer is the busiest time for tourism. If you want to enjoy uncrowded beaches, choose spring or autumn.
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.
|Flight route||Flight time*||Stops**||Days||Book|
|Auckland (AKL) to Whangārei (WRE)||40m||Non-stop||M,T,W,T,F,S,S||Find flights|
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.