If you’re travelling by car or campervan and you have the luxury of stopping and seeing some awesome sights on your way between Auckland and Whangārei, this is the guide for you! With just over 2 hours of travel time, break it up with some of these hidden gems.
Just north of Auckland, stop in at Puhoi Valley Shop and Cafe where they are passionate about cheese and the land they farm. The company employs more than 80 people some of who are descendants of the original settlers of the land. Learn more about this village’s history and find yourself some delectable dairy products to boast about, check them out here on Instagram.
You need to see New Zealand’s first and most accessible marine reserve – Goat Island. This is past Matakana Village in Leigh, where you can either walk, kayak, or snorkel the beautiful beaches, or explore all that the surrounding area has to offer. There is so much sea life here you will be amazed. You can hire snorkel or dive gear and give it a go straight off the beach or join a guided tour, or if you prefer to stay dry take a glass-bottom boat tour.
Matakana is well worth stopping at to check out the Saturday markets or if you have some spare time, go and see the Sculptureum Gardens. Owners Anthony and Sandra Grant spent 10 years collecting a vast array of artwork and sculptures from around the world to display on their 25-acre property. The art is amazing, definitely worth a look and a picture for Instagram!
If you travel on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway you will come across beach after beach along the Ruakaka, Waipu, Bream Bay and Mangawhai coast. At Mangawhai, check out the popular Bennetts of Mangawhai. Bennetts is family owned and run and has been hand-crafting their exquisite chocolates in Mangawhai Village since 1998, made from the best Belgian couverture and local ingredients. This is a great opportunity to stock up on any presents or stop into the cafe for one of their delicious hot chocolates. See more here.
About half an hour south of Whangārei in the historical Waipu is The Cove Cafe where keeping it local is very important. The Cove Cafe uses fresh produce grown at their own farm in Maungakaramea and with all seafood and meat sourced directly from the best suppliers in our region. So many good options to choose from, check them out on Instagram here.