Whangarei is the main city of Northland, in the North Island of New Zealand, with a population of 50,000. It has a warm semi-tropical climate, with summer daytime temperatures around 24-26°C, regular rainy days year round and mild winters that rarely have frosts and are mild enough for the region to be described as "the winterless north".
Whangarei Airport (WRE) is in the suburb of Onerahi, ten minutes drive from the central city. Air New Zealand has several flights a day from Auckland; flight time is 30-40 min. Taxis and a shuttle service run from the airport to town, and rental cars are available at the airport.
The only public transport within the city is Citylink, funded by the Whangarei District and Regional councils. It covers most of the suburbs and the inner city. Tickets are $2 for adults and can be purchased from the driver. Look for the Green Buses and timetables located at bus stops.
- 1 Claphams National Clock Museum, Town Basin, Dent St, ☏ . Daily 9AM–5PM (except 25 Dec). One of the largest collections of clocks in the southern hemisphere. $8 adult, $4 child, senior citizen $6.
- 2 Kiwi North: Whangarei Museum, Kiwi House & Heritage Park, 500 State Highway 14, Maunu (on the road to Dargaville, 5 min from Whangarei city centre), ☏ . Daily 10AM–4PM, closed 25 Dec. Museum with exhibits relating to Whangarei and Northland, a kiwi aviary and a heritage park of historic buildings. Adult $20, child 5–16 yr $5, child under 5 yr free.
- 3 Marsden Point Oil Refinery Visitors Centre, Port Marsden Highway, Ruakaka. Daily except Good Friday, 25 and 26 Dec, 10AM–5PM. The cafe next door is open M–F (excluding public holidays), 6:30AM–2PM.
- 4 Whangarei Falls, Tikipunga (5km north-east of the city). Known as the most photogenic waterfall in New Zealand, dropping 25 m into a beautiful bush-fringed pool.
- 5 Whangarei Quarry Gardens, 37A Russell Rd. Daily 9AM–5PM; cafe W–Su 9AM–3PM. Spectacular subtropical plantings in a terraced amphitheatre with a lake fed by two waterfalls. Free.
- AE Fun Park, 203 Hayward Rd, Maungakaramea (15 min drive south of Whangarei), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Activity and events park. Paintball, Lasertag, archery, clay shooting, flying fox, target shooting, mini putt golf, BBQ and function area. Good for half-day outings, birthdays, corporate functions, family gatherings.
- Walking. There are good opportunities for short and medium duration walks. Mair Park and the adjacent Parihaka Reserve in the centre of town straddle the Hatea river and are extremely popular (the latter has various glow worm spots at night). Two tracks lead from the river up to the top of Parihaka which has beautiful views over the city. The A.H Reed Memorial Kauri Walk. Whangarei Heads offers many opportunities for walkers of all capabilities. The rugged landscape fringed by beautiful bays and coves results in some wonderful panoramic views.
- Beaches. In summer, and for the hardy any other time of the year, the beaches in and around Whangarei are the place to head for.
- Onerahi Beach, the closest beach and very popular with families for a swim at the weekend
- Ocean Beach, a lovely big white sand beach with normally a decent surf
- Matapouri and Sandy Bay
- Whangarei Aquatic Centre, 52 Ewing Rd, ☏ . The main public swimming pool is in the centre of town and has a wave pool as well as a regular lap pool, hydroslides, spa and a gym.
- Big game fishing.
- Burning Issues Gallery, ☏ . Quayside, Town Basin.
- The Piggery. High quality and hard to find (mainly secondhand) books.
- Reyburn House Art Gallery, ☏ . Reyburn House Lane, Town Basin.
- The Warehouse, 42 Port Rd, Okara, ☏ . Discount department store.
Around the Mall and Strand Arcade
- Indian Aroma Restaurant, 25 Vine St, ☏ .
- Shiraz Indian Restaurant, 58 Walton St, ☏ . Daily 11AM-3PM, 4:30-10PM.
- Pimarn Thai Restaurant, 12 Rathbone St, ☏ . Lunch M-Sa 11AM-2:30PM, dinner M-Sa 5-10PM. Very popular Thai restaurant. Reservations a must. $15-20.
- Asahi Japanese Restaurant, cnr Vine St & Quality St, ☏ . Reasonable prices.
Around the Town Basin
- Mokaba, 6 Quayside, ☏ . Good coffee, pleasant food. Shares a building with The Batch, an arts and crafts shop.
- Frings, 104 Lower Dent St, ☏ . Woodfire pizza and beer.
Most of the town's bars and clubs are located in the central city in or around Vine Street.
- Bacio Bar & Cafe, 31 Bank St
- The Butter Factory, 8 Butter Factory Lane
- Grand Hotel, 2 Bank St
- Pure Bar & Grill, 79 Cameron St
- Split Bar & Restaurant, 16 Rathbone St
- 1 Whangarei Falls Holiday Park, 12 Ngunguru Rd, Glenbervie. Cabins, camp sites and 10-person backpackers dorm consisting of individual fixed bunk beds. The central area has table, chairs and fridge freezer. Two-minute walk to the waterfall. Dorm bed $32.
- Kingsgate Hotel, 9 Riverside Dr (facing the town basin), toll-free: 0800 404 010. Has a fully licensed bar and restaurant along with a spa, sauna, gymnasium and indoor heated pool. 115 rooms with tea/coffee-making facilities, air-conditioning and Sky TV.
- Discovery Settlers Hotel, 61-69 Hatea Dr (near the town basin), toll-free: 0800 666 662. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. All 51 rooms with en suite bathrooms, SKY TV and tea/coffee making facilities & Wi-Fi. Other facilities include the à la carte Parahaki Restaurant & Garden bar, which overlooks the banks of the Hatea river, guest laundry, outdoor pool and private spa. $104-200.
- Lodge Bordeaux, 361 Western Hills Dr, ☏ . 15 studio, 1 and 2-bedroom apartments with a wide range of amenities from kitchen facilities to internet access, a heated swimming pool, and a BBQ area. $185-300.
- Poor Knights Islands – dive and snorkel by charter or by private boat. You must not land on the islands.
- The Bay of Islands is 70 kilometres north.
- Dargaville – to the west
- Hokianga (90 minutes drive). You can go via the Bay of Islands, or go to Dargaville, then north through the kauri forests along the west coast.
- Ngunguru (28 km). On the edge of a river / estuary, find the cafe and have a steak and cheese pie. One of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.