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Your guide to Mangawhai Heads
All About Mangawhai Heads
With the Pacific Ocean on one side and a quiet estuary on the other, Mangawhai Heads, on the northeast coast of New Zealand’s North Island, is a seaside town whose waves draw longboard surfers from all over the region and where golfers flock to its 18-hole golf course. If you’re not so keen on swimming or surfing, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for kayaking or deep-sea fishing. Whether you’re hiking along the coast on the Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway or ascending uphill on the Goldschmidt Panoramic Trail, walking is an ideal way to experience the grassy dunes that skirt the oceanfront.
Mangawhai is home to a rich farmers’ market where you can pick up some local produce as well as several vineyards where you can spend time sampling the wines of the Mangawhai Valley. Many of the wineries also offer live music, as do a couple of the restaurants in town. There is a thriving art community in Mangawhai, evident in the galleries and events put on by local artists.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Mangawhai Heads
Mangawhai Heads’ location in the Southern Hemisphere means that its seasons are opposite from what North Americans are used to, and its temperatures rarely stray far from a narrow and comfortable range. Generally, the best months to spend time at your Mangawhai accommodation are the summer months of December to February, when it’s warm and sunny enough for swimming and other water sports. Fall and spring offer cool, temperate weather, ideal for hiking around the scenic reserve. The rains increase in frequency from June to August, but the clouds part to reveal blue skies frequently, and the temperatures, while cool, rarely approach freezing.
Top things to do in Mangawhai Heads
The compact, well-designed Mangawhai Museum illustrates the history of Mangawhai by telling stories of the area and its cultural and economic struggles. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the local landscape, the harbor, and the animals that live here, which you’re likely to see on hikes and excursions.
Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway
This dramatic, 5.4-mile-long coastal walk, whose trailhead is just five minutes from Mangawhai’s main drag, brings you from the beach up to the cliffs that overlook the harbor. The path, which can be a bit steep, has been described as one of the best coastal walks in New Zealand, with epic views over the surrounding headlands, ocean, and islands beyond that make your hard work worth it. If you’re lucky, you may even spot whales or sharks in the ocean below the cliffs. The trail is closed during September and October for lambing and calving season.
Tanekaha Forest, four miles inland from Mangawhai Heads, offers five hiking trails of various skill levels that will bring you through thick stands of native flora and alongside quick-rushing streams. You will pass underneath the canopy of ancient, very large puriri trees and catch glimpses of waterfalls and swimming holes. Bear in mind that the Falls Track in particular involves tackling some steep trails and crossing a few shallow streams.