Picturesque Bay of Islands is a 1 hour drive from Lupton Lodge. There is plenty to see and do for water and land lovers, history buffs or foodies. The suggestions below include both well know tourist activities and off-the-beaten-track alternatives to give you a range of suggestions for filling in your day.
Note: this Bay of Islands self-drive tour can be travelled in either direction.
Whangarei to Kawakawa (45 minutes drive)
Head North towards the Bay of Islands on SH1. About 40 minutes into your drive you will see signs pointing right to the Kawiti Glow Worm Caves. These are about 5km off the main road and offer guided tours by members of the family who own the caves. 5 minutes further on is Kawakawa village. Take a detour left into the Kawakawa township to see the famous Hundertwasser Toilets – their unique mosaic design has made them into one of Northland’s must-see tourist attraction. In Kawakawa you can also ride on an historic train through town (restricted times) or have a coffee at the historic railway cafe.
Kawakawa to Paihia (15 minutes drive)
Go back onto SH11 and turn left towards Paihia. Paihia is a busy tourist town offering lots of differentwater activities including: swimming with dolphins, high-speed boat trips to Hole in the Rock or cruises around the islands, kayaking or parasailing. If you are short on time catch the passenger ferry to Russell for a brief water experience and a bit of New Zealand history or just wander along the shore towards Waitangi. The main wharf in the centre of Paihia is the starting point for all cruises. The 35 Degrees South Aquarium Restaurant, adjacent the main wharf, is a great place or lunch or an early dinner.
Parking is available on Marsden Road or next to the main Wharf (short term). There are cafes, shops and a bank in the centre of Paihia. Don’t miss the Cabbage Tree and Flying Fish galleries.
Paihia to Waitangi (5 minutes drive)
At the Northern end of Paihia beach you will find a one way bridge to Waitangi. At Waitangi Treaty Grounds you can learn about the Treaty of Waitangi at their modern museum, take a nature walk, see a Maori Cultural Show and admire the stunning grounds overlooking the Bay. The Waitangi golf course is a links course with panoramic sea views.
Paihia to Kerikeri (20 minutes drive)
Turn onto Puketona Road at the roundabout and head inland. Stop off to see the Haruru Falls and if you are really brave try a spot of sky diving at Watena Airfield. Turn right at Puketona Junction onto SH10. On your right before you reach Kerikeri check out the Living Nature factory shop if you enjoy natural cosmetics.
Kerikeri is the culinary centre of the Bay of Islands. Marsden Estate and Ake Ake Vineyard offer tastings and delicious lunches. There are also a number of boutique local wineries if you are interested in a more extensive range. The Kerikeri Bakehouse is a great place for a quick lunch. Wharepuke Cafe (nearbthe end of Kerikeri Road) is our favourite place for delicious lunch in a stunning garden setting. Along Kerikeri road you will find various Kauri (wood) studios, ceramics and art galleries. Not to be missed is Makana Confections’ chocolate factory!
At the far end of Kerikeri is the Kerikeri Basin. Here you will find historic Mission House and Stone Store and Rewa’s Maori Village. You can take a 1 hour walk to Rainbow Falls, starting across the bridge from the Stone Store.
Kerikeri to Whangarei (75 minutes drive)
Return south to Whangarei via Kawakawa. Just south of Puketona Junction on SH10 you can sample some local produce at the Mahoe Cheese factory. For guests of Lupton Lodge, tun left a the first traffic lights (Puna Rere Drive) and continue for 6km after the 2nd round about.