BUG New Zealand travel guidebook
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BUG New Zealand travel guidebook


BUG New Zealand travel guidebook

Destination guides > Pacific Islands > New Zealand > Northland > Whangarei


Whangarei, the provincial capital of Northland, is often bypassed by travellers on their way north to the Bay of Islands, but there are some interesting attractions around this region.
The major thing that draws most people to Whangarei is its proximity to Poor Knights Islands, considered by many to be New Zealand’s premier diving spot.

The easily accessible and much-photographed­ Whangarei Falls are just 5km from the town centre. They’re not the highest or biggest in the world, but they are picturesque and there are a couple of nice walks you can take around them. About seven minutes from the town centre are the Abbey Caves, home to glow worms and 30 million year-old limestone formations.

On the coastline in the Whangarei region are more than a hundred beaches and bays with good weather year-round and plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, and kayaking.
Whangarei’s town centre is generic and charmless (and eerily desolate at night); but there’s a cute quayside area called the Town Basin, with colonial-style restaurants, arts and crafts shops, cafés and a museum with one of the largest collections of clocks in the southern hemisphere, Claphams Clocks.

There are a few very good hostels in and around town, and many Whangarei folk feel their hometown is underrated. A plan to construct a $9.5 million Hundertwasser art centre devoted to the Austrian artist’s work has locals hoping that Whangarei will become more of a destination in its own right.

Practical information

Whangarei i-SITE Visitor Centre

This information centre, located south of the city centre, features a combination tourist information centre and Department of Conservation information centre and there is also a café on site.

Tawera Park, 92 Otaika Road, Whangarei
Tel (09) 438 1079
Website www.whangareinz.org.nz
Open Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9.30am-4.30pm

Coming & going

InterCity (tel (09) 623 1503) and Nakedbus.com operate scheduled buses to Auckland. Coaches depart from the Northland Coach & Travel Centre at 3C Bank Street.

Hostel accommodation

Bunkdown Lodge

23 Otaika Road, Whangarei
Tel (09) 438 8886

Little Earth Lodge

85 Abbey Caves Road, Whangarei
Tel (09) 430 6562

The Mural (Whangarei Backpackers)

90 Bank Street, Whangarei
Tel (09) 459 7070

Whangarei Falls Backpackers

12-16 Ngunguru Road, Whangarei
Tel (09) 437 0609 or 0800 227 222

Whangarei Manaki Tanga YHA

52 Punga Grove, Whangarei
Tel (09) 438 8954

No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Eating & drinking

Whangarei’s city centre has a collection of pubs, pizza and Asian restaurants, along with a few nicer cafés and restaurants. Night time in Whangarei can have a bit of an edgy feel to it, but there are a number of bars around. The Ibanez Bar inside Mural Backpackers (90 Bank Street, Whangarei), is a popular spot with locals and backpackers alike. Or if you’re feeling adventurous check out Danger! Danger! (37 Vine Street, Whangarei), a big local party barn of a place with a cool sign and lots of nightly specials. There are also several places to eat on Quality Street, where the main shopping centre is located.

The Town Basin, by the marina, is where the more conspicuously charming and upmarket places are located, including nice waterfront cafés and restaurants.

Whangarei’s supermarkets include a Countdown (Okara Drive, Whangarei), a New World (167 Bank Street, Whangarei) and a Pak’n Save (Walton Street, Whangarei).

Sightseeing, museums & tourist attractions

Abbey Caves

These caves near Whangarei are home to glow worms and 30 million year old limestone formations.

Abbey Caves Road, Parahaki

Clapham’s Clocks

Clapham’s Clocks is an unusual museum that has been around for 100 years and now boasts a collection of over a thousand timepieces.

Dent Street, Town Basin, Whangarei
Tel (09) 438 3993
Website www.claphamsclocks.co.nz
Admission $8
Open 9am-5pm daily

Whangarei Falls

Located 6km north of the city centre, the 26.3m Whangarei Falls are one of New Zealand’s most photogenic waterfalls.

Ngungurua Road, Tikipunga

Whangarei Art Museum

The Whangarei Art Museum is the major art gallery in the Northland region. It hosts a variety of temporary exhibits.

Calfler Park Rose Gardens, Water Street, Whangarei
Tel (09) 430 4240
Website www.whangareiartmuseum.co.nz
Admission by donation
Open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat-Sun noon-4pm

Whangarei Museum & Kiwi House

This museum complex comprises both indoor and outdoor exhibits and is set on 25ha of parkland, 5km west of the city centre. It features a nocturnal kiwi house with live kiwi, a colonial homestead dating from 1886 and exhibits on the region’s Polynesian and European history.

4 State Highway 14, Maunu
Tel (09) 438 9630
Website www.whangareimuseum.co.nz
Admission $10
Open 10am-4pm daily

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