Whangarei, New Zealand

Whangarei is New Zealand's northernmost city and the regional capital of the Northland Region.  Captain James Cook and his crew were the first to make their way to the local harbour where they enjoyed a bountiful catch of fresh fish they called “bream”.  Hence, the name Bream Bay.  Their encounters with the native Maori were far from peaceful and every settler fled the area until 1855.  The timber and coal industries thrived in this area and are largely responsible for its growth and development.

Natural attractions and activities

For walking and hiking enthusiasts, a walk along Bream Head will provide a combination of coastal views, reserves, rural sights and more.

The Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve is located along the Paradise Coast (Tutukaka) and it is one of the most spectacular locations in this area.  There are 26 beaches, scenic coastal walkways and the sub-tropical climate is ideal.

If you make your way from Tikipunga to the Tutukaka Coast, you are sure to come across the lovely Whangarei Falls.  The walk from the car park to the falls is short and there is even a bridge that allows you to enjoy the view overlooking the falls if you are up for it.

Mt Manaia is another tourist hot spot. The hike can be challenging but the views along the way are indescribably beautiful and make every bit of effort worthwhile.

Things to do in Whangarei

One of the top local attractions is the Kingdom of Zion Wildlife Gardens.  Here, visitors can enjoy a fantastic big cat encounter in a safe environment.

For those who enjoy clocks and how each design represents its very own place in time, you should definitely visit Claphams Clocks - The National Clock Museum.  There are some amazing designs that are fascinating even for those who don't consider themselves an enthusiast.

The Kiwi North, Kiwi House and Museum is a great place to visit and learn about the famous Kiwi.  These normally shy birds come out to feed and give visitors a chance to see how they act and interact.

The Waka 'n' Wave Sculpture is a lovely sight with a beautiful beach backdrop.  If you are in the Town Basin area, do yourself a favour by parking your car and enjoying a stroll.

Whangarei is a relatively quiet city compared to places like Auckland and Wellington.  It might not be as densely population or commercialised but that only adds to its charm.  The natural beauty and scenic landscapes attract people from all around the world to visit.