Driving from Auckland to Lupton Lodge takes around 2.5 hours. If you have the time and want to make your journey more interesting we have included a list of recommended activities and stop-off points to keep you entertained along the way.
Activities Between Auckland and Whangarei
Waiwera Thermal Pools – naturally hot mineral pools, water slides and picnic/BBQ area, (just after Orewa on SH1, turn right at the bottom of the hill).
The Art of Cheese – Puhoi – watch the cheese makers at work, tastings, shop and basic cafe. Open 7 days 9am-5pm (turn left off SH1 towards Puhoi and travel 3km past the Puhoi Hotel).
Ransom Wines – cellar door tastings & fantastic platters which are served all day. Open Tue-Sun in winter and 7 days in summer, 10am-5pm (3km south of Warkworth, turn left off SH1).
- Ascension Vineyard – $15 for tasting all wines plus a souvenir glass, cellardoor sales, licensed cafe (about 10mins drive from Warkworth and SH1 – turn right at the second set of traffic lights off SH1).
- Morris and James Pottery and Tileworks – Pottery and tile showroom and cafe (about 15mins drive from Warkworth and SH1 – turn right at the second set of traffic lights off SH1).
Goat Island – 500 hectare marine reserve. Goat Island itself is only 137 metres from shore and can be easily reached by swimmers, snorkellers, scuba divers and kayakers. White sand beach, parking, toilet block, changing room and picnic area. Bring your own gear or hire a mask, snorkel and fins from Goat Island Dive (3km before the reserve) for only $12. Or take a 45 minute glass-bottom boat ride (booking ahead recommended). Goat Island is about 20 mins drive from Warkworth and SH1, past Matakana – turn right at the second set of traffic lights off SH1.
Sheep World Farm & Nature Park – sheep and dog shows (11am & 2pm), animal feeding (4pm), eco-discovery trail, shop and cafe (4km North of Warkworth on SH1).
Matakohe Kauri Museum – extensive kauri and pioneer museum, special exhibitions, cafes, shop, historic school house & post office. Open 7 days, 8.30am-5.30pm summer, 9am-5pm winter (20mins drive from SH1, turn left onto SH12 at Brynderwyn).
Mangawhai/Waipu/Bream Bay Detour – an alternative to driving all the way North along SH1 is to turn right after Wellsford, following the signs to Mangawhai. The roads on this route are much windier but the scenery is very picturesque. Don’t miss the Pipi Gallery and Bennetts Chocolate Shop and Cafe in Mangawhai. Follow the coastal road through Mangawhai Heads, Langs Beach, Waipu Cove, Waipu and Ruakaka. The pristine white sandy beaches are long and often deserted. There are several craft shops and cafes along the way or stop off for a game of golf at Mangawhai Golf Club or at the Waipu Golf Club links course where the green fees are only $25-$30 per person.
Horse Riding – Waipu – prior bookings essential (turn left off SH1, 10mins North of Waipu, onto Shoemaker Road West then left again onto Helmsdale Road).
Marsden Point Oil Refinery Visitor Centre – 130 square metre scale model of the Refinery and a 20 minute audio-visual show explaining how oil is refined. Open 7 days, 10am-5pm, free entry (turn right off SH1 at the BP Station after Ruakaka onto One Tree Point Road).
Beaches – Orewa Beach, Mangawhai Heads, Langs Beach, Waipu Cove and Ruakaka are all great beaches to explore on your drive up to Whangarei.