Whangaroa Harbour
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Whangaroa Harbour
Whangaroa Harbour

Whangaroa Harbour

With the popular and developed Bay of Islands just to the south, the Whangaroa Harbour tends to be overlooked by travelers. That’s good news for those who do make it here, because they’re treated to near-deserted beaches, peaceful fishing spots, remote Northland settlements, and some of the most beautiful nature in New Zealand.

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North Island, New Zealand

The basics

With forest-covered islets and outcrops, cliffs, deserted white-sand beaches, and Maori archaeological sites, the Whangaroa Harbour is a natural beauty. Many visitors come to fish on a charter boat or to dive at the famous Rainbow Warrior wreck. The Greenpeace ship was blown up by French secret service agents in Auckland in 1985, killing one person, and brought to Matauri Bay in the Whangaroa Harbour in 1987, where it’s now a dive site. There are also invigorating short hikes, such as the trail to the Kaiaraara Rocks and along the Mahinepua Peninsula.

It’s possible to come to the Whangaroa Harbour on a day trip from Kerikeri, but most visitors want to spend a bit longer exploring the area, so at least a single overnight is a good idea. The best way to explore the harbor is by boat--yachts, houseboats, and charter fishing boats can be arranged.

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Things to know before you go

  • New Zealand’s native kauri trees–of which there are many in the forests of Northland–are under intense threat from Kauri dieback disease. Boot-wash stations are set up at the entrances of many park areas in Northland. Do your bit and take the threat seriously by washing your shoes well when hiking anywhere in Northland.
  • There are four small towns in the Whangaroa Harbour: Totara North, Saies, Waitaruke, and Whangaroa. There are a few motels and holiday parks to stay at in these towns, as well as in nearby Kaeo.
  • The distinctive memorial to the Rainbow Warrior stands on the cliffs at Matauri Bay, and was made by New Zealand sculptor Chris Booth.
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How to get there

The Whangaroa Harbour is about a 30-minutes drive from Kerikeri. Take one of the small roads that branch east off of State Highway 10. Kerikeri is about an hour north of Whangarei, the largest city in Northland.

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When to get there

Northland’s climate is subtropical, so it’s warmer than the rest of the country, making the Whangaroa Harbour a great year-round destination. However, Northland rains a lot, especially in winter (June–August). For diving, come in the summer (December–February), when the waters are warm and calm.

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Visit Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga is the northernmost tip of New Zealand, and is a bit more than a 2-hour drive from the Whangaroa Harbour. It’s very remote and windswept, and there’s a lone lighthouse at the end. Walk the hilly trail to the lighthouse and see the meeting of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean–they’re two distinct colors.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the nearest attractions to Whangaroa Harbour?
Attractions near Whangaroa Harbour: