Insider’s Guide to Whangārei Heads

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To travel

On the other side of the peninsula, Ocean Beach is well known to surfers. Photo / Whangarei District Council

Take a look at Whangārei Heads, its unique features and must do activities with Jo Woollacott, Yoga Teacher and Owner of a Holistic Yoga Retreat, WHY Retreat in Whangārei Heads

Jo Woollacott is a yoga teacher and owner of a holistic yoga retreat, Why Retreat at Whangārei Heads.  Photo / Supplied
Jo Woollacott is a yoga teacher and owner of a holistic yoga retreat, Why Retreat at Whangārei Heads. Photo / Supplied

I find that visitors are always surprised by the beauty and diversity of the landscapes of Whangārei Heads and often vow to return to give themselves more time to explore all that the region has to offer.

Your first glimpse of the scenery and sparkling harbor of Whangārei Heads is at the top of the Brynderwyns, heading north from Auckland, or better yet, from the air when you land at Whangārei Airport.

Trek Mount Manaia and the The Te Whara Trail, with their otherworldly volcanic spiers, are arguably the best-known highlights of this scenic region, and many lesser-known trails are suitable for all fitness levels.

Mount Manaia has volcanic spiers from another world and is a well-known highlight of Whāngārei Heads.  Photo / 123rf
Mount Manaia has volcanic spiers from another world and is a well-known highlight of Whāngārei Heads. Photo / 123rf

If the beaches are your place to be, pack a picnic and head to Smugglers’ cove, named for the promise of the cave treasure. This protected curve of white sand is accessible by the Smugglers Bay Loop Trail, where you can indulge in WWII history at the cannon sites and take in the stunning views down to Coromandel and Great Barrier Island from Busby Head, located at the entrance to the harbor.

This protected curve of Smugglers Cove is accessible by the Smugglers Bay Loop Track.  Photo / Northland NZ
This protected curve of Smugglers Cove is accessible by the Smugglers Bay Loop Track. Photo / Northland NZ

On the other side of the peninsula, Ocean beach is well known to surfers and connects an unbroken stretch of secluded beach at Kauri Mountain with the Te Whara Ridge for Te Araroa trail hikers.

Keep your eyes and ears open as you explore Whangārei Heads; you are bound to spot one of the many native birds that live here. The kiwi and other species have been reintroduced by Backyard kiwi, with the help of an active local community keeping the area free from predators.

You can also explore underwater on one of the free diving days organized at the Whangārei Port Marine Reserve. For something completely different, join Jump off a cliff adventure group for an abseiling experience and enjoy a breathtaking view from the top of a mountain.

Despite its remote location, Heads is only a 30-minute drive from Whangārei and offers plenty of B&B-style accommodation options, from a DoC hut to the fishing handle and mine WHY a yoga retreat, where your stay includes vegetarian food, yoga, meditation and guided hikes.

Plan now for the next one Whangārei leads the Easter Arts Trail. This annual event showcases the eclectic collection of artists who live in the area. Many offer their work for sale from their homes all year round to keep a lasting memory of your visit.

Check traffic light settings, vaccine requirements, and Department of Health advice before traveling. covid19.govt.nz


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