Whangarei is a city with a subtropical climate in New Zealand. The highest point in the city is the summit of Mount Parahaki. This was once the site of the largest Maori Pa or fortified village in New Zealand.
To the north of Whangarei city you’ll find the fascinating and lovely Whangarei Falls at 26 meters high. The falls is surrounded by park, native New Zealand bush and walkways.
Kauri Dam Walk will take you into the Tangihua Forest with trees such as totara, towai and tanekaha. The last two minutes of track can be quite steep and slippery as it drops down to a tributary of the Pikiwahine Stream and ends at a railing and viewing area.
The Mount Manaia Track offers two fantastic coastal walks on Whangarei Heads – The Busby Head/Smugglers Track and Peach Cove Track. The 3.5 km Mount Manaia Track heads through regenerating native bush to a summit of about 400 feet above sea level.
At the start of the trail you will find five poupou kohatu – these concrete statues commemorate the importance of Mount Manaia in Maori history.
There are spectacular views of Bream Head, the Hen and Chicken Islands and Whangarei Harbor.
For those who love to walk Whangarei Heads has a lot to offer with spectacular scenery that include volcanic rock and a series of bays and coves. It all ends at the white sand Ocean Beach.
In the center of Whangarei visitors will find the Town Basin, which includes a picturesque marina, outdoor area, galleries, shops, cafes, restaurants and a playground. This is also a great place for a riverside stroll. The walkway takes about 20 minutes each way.
At the end you’ll find the Waka and Wave Sculpture by Chris Booth and Te Warihi Hetaraka. The walkway begins at the playground and follows the river southwards.
Children enjoy the Town Basin playground that gives them a wide choice of options such as climbing, swinging, spinning and sliding. The playground is surrounded by grass and trees and adjacent to the marina.
At the Town Basin you can also purchase high quality local Northland arts and crafts and New Zealand souvenirs. Paddle boats can be hired. You can visit the nearby Whangarei Aquatic Center, walk up to Mair Park and the Whangarei Falls.
Bream Head Scenic Reserve is located at the Whangarei Heads peninsula and has awesome walking track, stunning beaches and lovely scenery. There are giant peaks that tower at the entrance to the Whangarei Harbor with the magnificent Mt. Lion standing at an impressive 476 meters. There are hiking and walking trails throughout the forest.
Backyard Kiwi has become a successful community project and has managed to ward off the decline of the kiwi population in the area. This is one of only five Kiwi reserves in New Zealand. It is an absolute no dog zone and when driving at night beware of kiwis crossing the road.
Another wonderful waterfall close to Whangarei is Taheke Falls located in a lovely area about 14 km north of Whangarei. From the car park a gravel road takes you for around 350 meters to the bridge. Right after the bridge is a DOC sign at which the track begins. No dogs allowed on the track. You have the option of taking the shor walk to the waterfall viewing platform or continuing on and doing the loop walk up to the kauri grove.
A two minute drive from the center of Whangarei will take you to the Whangarei Quarry Garden project – New Zealand’s subtropical paradise. Here you’ll find tranquil surroundings with two waterfalls, a lake, garden walkways, bush walks and picnic areas. There is an amazing terraced amphitheater planted with native plants and trees and subtropical species.
The strangely shapped Time Machine at the Whangarei Town Basin is actually the Claphams National Clock Museum. It offers visitors such amazing things to see like the southern hemisphere’s largest sundial as well as the heaviest weighing in at six tons.
Stepping into the museum you enter a bizarre world of intriguing, amusing clocks and musical instruments. There is a wonderful model of St. Stephen’s Clock Tower, housing the famous bell known as Big Ben. Upon the clock is written – “This clock was made in the year of our Lord 1854 by Frederick Dent of the Strand and Royal Exchange, Clockmaker to the Queen”.
There are two impressive examples of John Dent’s work – a beautiful cathedral clock and a marine chronometer. Dent was the stepfather to Fred who was one of England’s great clockmakers. Everywhere you look there is something that will amaze, amuse and delight you.