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Your guide to Whangārei
All About Whangārei
Surrounded by green, forested hills and turquoise water, Whangārei is the northernmost city in New Zealand. The town is part of the larger Whangārei District — home to the picturesque stretches of Bream Bay, Whangarei Heads peninsula and the Tutukaka Coast — where you’ll find the surf hub Ocean Beach and numerous other white sandy outposts. Diving is a popular sport here, with the famous Poor Knights Islands just a boat ride away, or you can explore the waters along the bay and off the coast by kayak, paddleboard, or chartered fishing boat.
Several Whangārei hiking trails offer lookout points with coastal views, while others wind past cascading waterfalls. The popular Hātea Loop is a gentle paved trail that offers a sense of the town as it winds around the marina.
The area is also of cultural significance to the Māori, who used Mount Parihaka, located in Whangārei's Mair Park, as a pā, or fortressed village. By exploring The Hokianga and Dobbie Tracks, you can see the remnants of early Māori settlements.
As you walk through Whangārei, you’ll notice more than a dozen murals covering buildings in artistic recreations of the region’s incredible scenery, as well as a sculpture park, and several carved Māori pou (or poles).
Whangārei is also a jumping off point for the Bay of Islands, a cluster of more than 140 subtropical islands housing pristine beaches and Māori artifacts.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Whangārei
Whangārei’s subtropical climate offers plenty of sunshine throughout the year with December to February being the warmest months. The area gets its fair share of rainfall in all seasons, so you’ll want to pack waterproof outerwear regardless of when you book your Whangārei accommodation. Winters in Whangārei, which run from June to August, are brisk and damp, although snowfall is rare.
In October, the Whangārei Fringe Festival brings to town circus acts, poetry readings, fashion shows, and live music and theater performances.
On Saturdays roughly between December and March, you can check out local cuisine and craftsmanship at the annual summer Artisans Market. Between Labor Day and Easter Weekend, the stalls transform into an evening street food hub with the Canopy Night Market.
Top things to do in Whangārei
Claphams National Clock Museum
This unique museum in Whangārei features more than 2,000 clocks and timepieces. Claphams National Clock Museum is home to sundials, watches, antique cuckoo clocks, and unique timekeeping works of art. Take a guided tour to learn about this unique collection, which is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
Otuihau Whangārei Falls
At 85-feet high, this stunning waterfall cascades over a cliff into a clear pool below. Viewing platforms bring you closer to this sacred source, which forms the start of the Hātea River. The Otuihau Whangārei Falls is just a 10-minute drive from the town center.
Whangārei Quarry Gardens
Located in a former quarry close to town, Whangārei Quarry Gardens are a thriving 60-acre subtropical paradise that includes a native forest, bromeliad garden, arid garden, and five senses garden. Explore the original quarry concrete tunnels, or meander past sculptures by local artists. You can top off your visit with a bite and a drink at the on-site cafe.