Northland is the northernmost region in New Zealand. Whangarei is the only city in the area; the next biggest towns have a few thousand people. The Northland Region (governed by the Northland Regional Council) covers the area from Te Hana in the south to Cape Reinga at the northern tip of the North Island. Further south, towns such as Wellsford and Warkworth are now part of the Auckland Region in local government terms, but were historically part of Northland.
If you're looking for wonderful empty beaches in a subtropical-like setting, this is the best area in New Zealand. The east coast of Northland has long been a well-known holiday place, but recently the west coast has also become known due to its spectacular natural phenomena: Tane Mahuta (huge, ancient kauri tree), untouched forests in Waipoua, Warawara, Omahuta Kauri Sanctuary and Puketi, biggest concretions in the world (the Koutu Boulders and the world unique Wairere Boulders), the sand dunes of the North Hokianga and Ninety Mile Beach.
- Bay of Islands – historic area and very popular tourist destination
- Far Far North – the northernmost part of mainland New Zealand, including Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach
- Hokianga, pristine, unspoilt, untouched, untamed
- Whangarei district
- See also the dedicated article for Diving the Poor Knights Islands.
The Poor Knights Islands are half way between Whangarei and the Bay of Islands. They are a nature reserve and the surrounding waters are a marine reserve. You are not allowed to land on the islands, but the waters are a popular underwater diving location. The Poor Knights Islands can be reached from Tutukaka Harbour, 30 kilometres north of Whangarei where a number of charter boats operate from Tutukaka. Of note is Rikoriko Cave has been measured and is the world's largest sea cave. Several boats can enter the cave, and the acoustics are extraordinarily good. Rikoriko means dancing light in Maori and the light reflected from the water seems to dance on the roof of this cavernous natural wonder.
Auckland is the main international gateway for travel to Northland. Air New Zealand operates domestic flights to Whangarei and Kerikeri (Bay of Islands). Great Barrier Airlines flies from Auckland to Kaitaia. Charter operators offer transport into the region tailored to your requirements.
The Twin Coast Discovery Highway is Northland's scenic touring route starting and finishing in Auckland. Taking you to both coasts, this route showcases the diversity of the region.
Arrival to Northland by sea is spectacular - your coastal journey is bound to impress. Stunning headlands, bush covered hillsides, long stretches of beach greet as you head for terra firma. If you are arriving by boat from overseas there are two official Ports of Entry into Northland.
- GreatSights operates a premium sightseeing tour to the Bay of Islands with daily departures from Auckland. Tours can be completed in one day, including a guided tour of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and "Kings Dolphin Cruise" to Cape Brett and the famous "Hole in the Rock", or one way.
- InterCity is a national coach company and operates a number of daily departures to the Bay of Islands and other Northland destinations.
- Historic buildings — a Northland Passport to History from the Historic Places Trust allows you to visit five historic places in the Bay of Islands and Hokianga for the price of two: Kerikeri Mission Station and Stone Store; Pompallier Mission in Russell; Clendon House in Rawene; Mangungu Mission at Horeke; Te Waimate Mission at Waimate North.
- Koutu Boulders — biggest concretions in the world in Koutu, Hokianga
- Wairere Boulders — an enormous basalt flow just south of Horeke, Hokianga
- Sand dunes — windblown sculptures on top of sand dunes across the harbour from Opononi, Hokianga
- Omahuta Kauri Sanctuary (ecologically undisturbed forest) — see five of the dozen biggest kauri trees near Mangamuka Bridge in Hokianga
- Cruise the Bay of Islands seeing the sights and viewing marine life. On some cruises you can swim with dolphins.