Tutukaka Coast Driving Route


Amazing white sandy beaches, stunning ocean views, native bush, waterfalls and rolling countryside – all in a 2 hour trip from Lupton Lodge (Glenbervie, Whangarei). This is an enjoyable 2 hour self-drive trip if you only have time to look out the window, or a fantastic day trip (or several day trips!) when enjoying the activities along the way.

This self-drive tour can be travelled in either direction when following the instructions below.

Tutukaka Coast Loop (rejoins SH1 at Hikurangi)

Lupton Lodge to Ngunguru (10 mins)

Ngunguru Estuary & Beach at High Tide Ngunguru Estuary ngunguru-estuary-tutukaka

Ngunguru driving route: head east from Lupton Lodge towards the coast following the dry-stone walls that line each side of the road. After winding through the countryside you reach a tidal river leading towards Ngunguru. Native bush and mangroves surround you as you come closer to the coast. On the right is the Ngunguru River where you can do a cruise with Captain Percy (advance bookings recommended). Visit Raku Pottery on your left before you reach Ngunguru village. Ngunguru has a cafe, fish & chips takeaway shop, dairy, beauty salon and 9 hole golf course. Stroll along the waterfront with an ice cream or walk around the coast to Whangaumu Bay (Wellingtons Bay) when the tide is low.

Ngunguru to Tutukaka Marina (5 mins)

Tutukaka Harbour Schnappa Rock Tutukaka tutukaka-marina

Following the coast out of town the road winds upwards and inland. Towards the top of the hill on the right is an observation area where you can look out on the islands across the sea. Continuing on down the hill take a detour along Tutukaka Block road which leads along a peninsula with several cute bays and great views before you arrive at Whangaumu Bay. You have to back track from there onto the main road where you will find the Tutukaka Marina at the bottom of the hill. There are a restaurant/bar, pizzeria and a pub/cafe at the Marina to keep your stomach busy. Another point of interest is Tutukaka Surf Company, where you can hire a surf board or book in for lessons. Wander amongst the boats around the marina or just sit back with a coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy the ambience. Diving and snorkeling/sightseeing boat trips to the Poor Knights Islands operate from the Tutukaka Marina. Fishing charters and kayaking also depart from the Tutukaka Marina.

Tutukaka Marina to Hikurangi (1 hour)

matapouri-bay-tutukaka-coast whale-bay-tutukaka-coast Matapouri Bay on a summer's day in January

Departing from Tutukaka, head into the hills towards Matapouri. You can stop in at a sub-tropical plant nursery or alpaca farm along the way. Matapouri is the first bay you reach. Take one of the roads on the right to get to parking by the beach. This bay is great for strolling on the white sand or having a dip. You can walk around the coast to Whale Bay (see photo above) or jump back in the car and drive to the Whale Bay carpark (top of the hill on the right) from where you can follow the track down the hill. This track takes about 10 minutes to walk each way and is well worth the trip. Further on from Whale Bay is Woolleys Bay and then Sandy Bay (surf beach). The road then winds inland towards Hikurangi where you join up with SH1. There is a small Museum in Hikurangi and an 18 hole golf course.

Hikurangi to Lupton Lodge (30 mins)

Whangarei Falls Waterfall Markers for the Whangarei Falls - Town Basin Walkway Local Avocados

Returning to Whangarei: turn left onto SH1 and head back towards Whangarei. After the speed limit reduces to 60kmph you will see a sign to the right directing you to Whangarei Falls/Tutukaka Coast. Drive into Kamo until the traffic lights where you turn left (Station Rd). Follow this road to the T-Junction at Kiripaka Rd where you turn left. About 200m on your right is the entrance to the Whangarei Falls. You can either view the spectacular falls from above, walk to the bottom for a better view or spend an hour doing the round-trip bush walk to the AH Reed Kauri Walk. On your way back to Lupton Lodge stop in at Huanui Orchards for some local produce and Glenbervie Pottery or one of the other art galleries along Ngunguru road.

More Northland driving itineraries and day trip suggestions

More information about Lupton Lodge

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