Discover Whangārei

New Zealand's most northern city has a relaxed, sunny personality and lots of nature-based attractions.

Arrive in Whangarei and take a deep, sea-scented breath. Give yourself permission to relax and start thinking about what makes you happy. With idyllic harbor and ocean beaches, extraordinary (and walkable) volcanic mountains and a big choice of marine adventures close by, Whangarei feels like it's always on holiday.

About our flights to Whangarei

Air New Zealand offers non-stop domestic flights to Whangarei airport from Auckland, and connecting flights from Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and other regional centers. With all our airfares you can choose between Economy, Premium Economy, or Business Premier™ cabins. The scheduled length for Auckland to Whangarei flights is 40 minutes.

South from Whangarei there's a series of fabulous white sand surf beaches, including Ruakaka, Waipu, Langs Beach and Mangawhai. This coast is known for excellent surfing and body boarding.

Where to go and what to see in Whangārei

The Whangārei district starts at Waipu and follows the East Coast all the way up to Whangaruru, just south of the Bay of Islands. Whangārei is Northland's main centre; a relaxed sub-tropical city with great restaurants, every kind of shopping and close proximity to gorgeous beaches and bays. If you base yourself here, it's easy to take day trips north, south or west. A rental car is a smart idea.

Coastal scenery and lifestyle

Holiday central in Whangārei is the Quayside Town Basin precinct, where you'll find waterside eateries and bars, the extraordinary Haundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery,  along with other art galleries, a sculpture trail and some unexpected and fun attractions, like the clock museum. 

Close to the Town Basin is Riverside Drive, which becomes the coastal road that runs all the way to Whangārei Heads. You could easily spend a whole day exploring  beauty spots like Parua Bay, McLeod Bay and Urquharts Bay. Pack your active wear and walk 20 minutes over farmland to check out remote Smugglers Bay - one of the most picture-perfect beaches in the country.

North east of Whangārei city is the Tutukākā Coast, an area that's all about swimming, surfing, fishing, diving and relaxing. There's a great choice of accommodation along the coast then settle in to a glorious laidback lifestyle that's dictated by the tide and the sun.

South of Whangārei there's another series of fabulous white sand surf beaches, including Ruakākā, Waipu, Langs Beach and Mangawhai. You don't have to be a surfer to make the most of the waves; this coast is known for excellent body surfing and body boarding or just sit back and relax.

Enjoy refreshments at a craft brewery in Waipu village and casual dining at the popular café at Waipu Cove.

Leisurely local adventures

Glenbervie Forest, close to Whangārei, has become a place to hang out in the trees - quite literally. There are zip lines and climbing challenges for all levels of bravery. Another climbing challenge can be found at Mt Manaia, the massive volcanic landform at Whangārei Heads. Multiple flights of stairs linked by forest paths lure you up to the summit for panoramic views of the harbour, coast and ocean.

There are many other excellent walks around Whangārei: the loop track to Abbey Caves Reserve lets you discover three significant limestone caves; Bream Head Scenic Reserve has a substantial track network; Coronation Scenic Reserve includes two Māori pā sites; and the Hatea River walk, which begins in the town basin, allows you to stroll to beautiful Whangārei Falls.

For an unforgettable marine adventure, catch a dive or snorkel trip to the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve. Diving legend Jacques Cousteau named this place one of the world's Top 10 dive spots and it's being considered for World Heritage status. Trips leave daily from the port town of Tutukaka.

The recently-completed Twin Coast Cycle Trail is scoring five-star reviews from adventure seekers from all over the world. It links Opua on the east coast with Horeke on the west coast, covering a total distance of 87km. Friendly townships, including Kawakawa, Kaikohe and Rawene, provide accommodation and meals along the way. If you're not up to the whole journey, pick one of the four sections for a day trip.

Events with a local flavour

If your trip to Whangarei and Northland overlaps with one of the region's iconic local events, you're in for a rare treat.

  • There's a lot of Scottishness in and around Whangarei, which is enthusiastically embraced at the Waipu Highland Games. Held on New Year's Day (1 Jan) every year, this event includes highland dancing, live bagpipe music, traditional Scottish athletics and plenty of haggis.
  • Music and food come together in a delicious way at the annual Whangarei Fritter Festival, also scheduled for mid-March. Held at the Northland Events Centre, it's a chance to discover fritters of every flavour while you appreciate the local live music scene.
  • The Whangarei Arts Trail, usually held in April, is a way to discover the outstanding work of local artists while you drive the gorgeous coastal road to Whangarei Heads.
  • Every Saturday morning the Mangawhai Tavern Market serves up fresh produce, arts and crafts, vintage clothing, flower and food trucks. The market is at the water's edge, so sea views add to the fun.
  • In February Whangarei hosts the Northland Pasifika Fusion Festival in the town basin. It's colourful, musical, cultural and delicious.
  • Waitangi Day, 6 February, is celebrated with a full range of Māori cultural performances and ceremonies at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, just north of Paihia. It's a gathering to commemorate the signing of New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • Catching a Field Days event in New Zealand provides an entertaining insight into rural life. In Northland the event is held in Dargaville around the end of February. From a tractor pulling competition to down-home country eats, there's a lot to enjoy.
  • Start working on your fitness now so that you can compete in the 90-mile Beach Race, held in mid-March every year. It includes a walk, half-marathon, full marathon and ultra-marathon. What a breath-taking way to see 90 Mile Beach!

Top 10 fun things to do in and around Whangarei

  1. Dive or snorkel at the Poor Knights
    Protected since 1981, the Poor Knights Islands is one of the world's best diving and snorkelling sites. Boats leave from Tutukaka.

  2. Take a hike
    Walk to the summit of Mt Manaia at Whangarei Heads or trek along Cape Brett to the lighthouse.

  3. Picnic at a waterfall
    Enjoy a couple of tranquil hours at Whangarei Falls next to the city or Haruru Falls inland from Waitangi.

  4. Mosey around the market
    Whangarei's Saturday morning market is one of the biggest in New Zealand. Shop, eat and chat with the locals.

  5. Be awestruck by kauri trees
    The AH Reed Memorial Park in Whangarei has a spectacular canopy walk that gets you up close to kauri trees that are up to 500 years old.

  6. Fly through the forest
    Whangarei's Glenbervie Forest has a tree-tops fun park full of climbing circuits, zip lines and…trees!

  7. Visit Waitangi
    At the Waitangi Treaty Grounds you can learn about an important moment in time for New Zealand. Wander the grounds, enjoy the museum and catch a Māori cultural performance.

  8. Cruise the Bay of Islands
    Just north of Whangarei, in the town of Paihia, you can arrange to see the beautiful Bay of Islands by sea kayak, sailboat or fast ferry.

  9. Zoom down the dunes
    Slide down giant dunes on a sandboard at Opononi or Te Paki. It's a thrill like no other.

  10. Cycle from coast to coast
    North of Whangarei is the starting point for the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, 87 kilometres of gorgeous scenery that stretches all the way to historic Horeke in the Hokianga region.

Receive alerts about cheap flights to Whangārei

If you want to fly to Whangārei for less, we run regular special deals. You can sign up for low fare alerts to receive early notice of these offers. You can also sign up to receive regular email updates about cheap airfares, packages, competitions and exclusive offers.

Essential information

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Best time to visit Whangārei

Whangārei is in Northland, New Zealand's only subtropical climate zone. This region has warm humid summers and mild winters (it doesn't snow in Northland!), so it's comfortable in any season. Summer is the busiest time for tourism so if you want to enjoy uncrowded beaches, choose spring or autumn.

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How much will it cost?

This will depend on your tastes and what you want to do. As a rough guide, not including air travel and hotels, you should allow about NZD $100 to $150 a day per person for food and entertainment.

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You might need a visa to holiday in New Zealand, depending on where you're from and how long you're staying. See the visa-waiver list.

Cheap flights to Whangarei

Flight route

Vancouver (YVR) to Auckland (AKL)

Flight time*

13h 55m






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Flight route

Auckland (AKL) to Whangarei (WRE)

Flight time*







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*The above table reflects sample flight duration and days of frequency. Please check our flight timetable for specific dates before booking. 

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Keep exploring Whangārei

Paddleboarder image courtesy of David Kirkland; Poor Knights Island image courtesy of Iain Urquhart