The Whangarei Heads offer dramatic mountain scenery, walkways, beaches and craft galleries along a 35km long peninsula accessible from Whangarei city centre. As a side trip from Whangarei or a day trip for beach lovers and walkers the Whangarei Heads are well worthwhile incorporating into your Northland itinerary.
Option 1: Lupton Lodge to Pataua North (35 minutes drive)
From Lupton Lodge drive towards Whangarei. Just before Glenbervie School turn into Harris Road, on the left. At the T-junction turn left towards Pataua North. This route is very windy and not for the faint hearted! The beach and estuary are really lovely once you get there and you can walk across the footbridge to Pataua South. Note that this road does not join up with the rest of the Whangarei Heads roads.
Option 2: Lupton Lodge to Whangarei Heads
Drive towards Whangarei city, turn left at the first lights and follow Hatea Drive until just before the Town Basin where you turn left to cross the bridge. Whangarei Heads Road follows the coast and is very scenic. There are a few craft shops and cafes on the Heads but if you are going for a walk or to one of the beaches we recommend that you take food & drink with you.
- Ocean Beach is a white sandy surf beach.
- There are several walks around the Bream Head Scenic Reserve starting at Ocean Beach or Urquhart’s Bay. The Smugglers Cove walk takes just 20 minutes.
- Mt Manaia takes 1 hour to climb each way and towers 460m above the harbour entrance, providing spectacular views.
- Pataua South has a footbridge to Pataua North and a picturesque inlet.
- Motukiore Island in the middle of Parua Bay is accessible from the Manganese Pt end. At low tide the walkway around the beach leads to a well reserved Maori Pa.
- Reotahi Marine Reserve allows you to snorkel off the beach within the Whangarei Harbour.
- The Pines Golf Club is open to visitors and well located on the coast.
- Parua Bay Tavern overlooks the water and is great for a pub lunch or early dinner.
You can also reach Whangarei heads by taking Harris Road (off Ngunguru Rd), turning right a the T-Junction onto Whareora Road and then left onto Mt Tiger Rd (which becomes Owhiwa Rd). This route is picturesque but very windy so should only be used by confident drivers.