2011, the National Geographic Traveler magazine has rated 99 of the world's great islands, coastlines and beaches for sustainability and authenticity (see here) - our Tutukaka Coast was tied for second!
You won’t have to drive far to reach the first highlight right on the way: the 26m Whangarei Falls. They’re only a minute from the car park but it’s worth to walk the little loop walk to see them from below as well.
You’ll pass through green Glenbervie with its many orchards and old volcanic stone walls, then you’ll follow a river to Ngunguru with its big estuary and a beautiful sandspit that sits between the village and the open ocean. Time for coffee or ice cream?
Just before Tutukaka take the turnoff on the right to Pacific Bay, Church Bay and Whangaumu (or Wellingtons) Bay. Once you walk around Whangaumu Bay there is a certain risk that you’ll forget about the other beaches to come, but rest assured, it’s worth it!
The next stop however is the Tutukaka Marina, a yacht harbour and big game fishing port, the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands. Behind the marina you can walk the Tutukaka Head walk to a small lighthouse on a little island (only at low tide).
Another gem of a beach is Matapouri Bay further north, the horseshoe shape of the bay is so perfect that sometimes the waves crash the whole length of it at the same time. To the right you can explore a river estuary and to the left if you are feeling fit climb through a tunnel then a scramble over rocks to the gorgeous mermaid pools (shoes essential).
You could even walk from Matapuri to the next highlight: Whale Bay! This fine beach is sheltered from the ocean and the sun (you can relax under Pohutukawa trees). The beach is a 10-15 minutes walk from the car park through attractive forest . If you liked the Abel Tasman beaches then this one’s for you, and don’t forget your togs (swimwear)!
The next 2 gorgeous beaches Wooleys Bay and Sandy Bay are a further short drive north, they are both wide and long which certainly appeals to many surfers. Don’t miss the great views from the road as you approach them.
Now you can either drive back to your favourite place and spend some more time or continue on the winding loop road through rural countryside to Hikurangi. This was once an important mining town and the atmosphere is quite special. You will see a beautiful church on the left when you enter this old-fashioned Northland town and if you’re interested in geological formations then don’t miss the Waro Limestone Reserve just next to State Highway 1.