A Family Northland Road Trip

With an abundance of activities to enjoy, landmarks to explore and trails to wander, a family holiday through Te Tai Tokerau / Northland promises something for everyone. Discover the best places to create lasting memories and be immersed in local culture with our guide below. 

From Auckland Adventure to Whangārei Wonders 

Start your journey across New Zealand’s Northland in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau, the North Island’s major city. With around 30% of the country’s population living in Auckland, it’s an excellent place to experience the city atmosphere before departing on your road trip. See sights like the Sky Tower and the Viaduct Harbour, or perhaps spend a day trip on Waiheke Island. Pick up your Hertz rental car from one of our Auckland branches when you’re ready to depart. Enjoy the coastal scenery and rolling hills as you head toward Whangārei, about a 2.5-hour drive from Auckland. Consider stopping over in towns such as Matakana and Warkworth to allow yourself and your family to stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat before continuing on your journey. Once in Whangārei, explore the area with a walk near Whangārei Falls, or a visit to the tranquil Whangārei Quarry Gardens. The Falls track is a gentle hike that winds past the falls, leading to a Kauri forest, whilst the Quarry Gardens feature colourful blooms, artistic sculptures and a cafe overlooking the Waiarohia Stream. End your day with an elegant dining experience on the waterfront at TopSail 

Whangarei falls

Bay Bound: Whangārei to Paihia 

As you wake up to the coastal ambience of  Whangārei, indulge in a delicious breakfast at The Quay Kitchen by the Town Basin before departing for Paihia. Around an hour’s drive in your Hertz rental car, embrace the picturesque views of lush tropical forests and native bushlands before arriving. Take to the skies on an experience like no other with private parasailing charter over the Bay of Islands. There’s room for the whole family to enjoy this bespoke experience onboard a 12-passenger boat, and watch as each member of the group ascends in the parasail. If your travelling party are wildlife lovers, opt for a scenic cruise toMotu Kōkako/Piercy Island for a chance to spot dolphins and whales onboard a purpose-built vessel. This cruise sails across the Cape Brett Peninsula and stops at Motu Kōkako (also known as ‘The Hole in the Rock’) where you can swim, snorkel or kayak. Refreshments are available on board, ensuring everyone remains content and hydrated throughout the tour. If you’d rather discover the area on foot, travel up to Waitangi to embark on the Haruru Falls to Waitangi Treaty Grounds Walk. End the night with dinner at Zane Grey’s Restaurant overlooking the Bay of Islands. 

Hole in the Rock

Sea, Sky and Sunset 

With over 140 subtropical islands in the Bay of Islands region, including Urupukapuka, Motuarohia and Motukōkako, continue your Northland discovery tour on a guided kayak adventure. Departing from Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island, you can embark on a 30-minute to up to four-hour tour to view the stunning coastlines, hidden coves and marine life that the area is known for. Come prepared by bringing along a swimsuit, jandals and a towel for your tour, while you enjoy an escape among the crystal-clear waters under the unsurpassed New Zealand sunshine. Another way to tour the Islands is with a ferry cruise to Kororāreka/Russell,  the first capital of New Zealand. With historic sites and attractions including the Pompallier Mission and Printery, Flagstaff Hill and the country’s oldest surviving church, delve into important history with a day trip to Russell. Continue your pioneering expedition with a drive to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to stand where New Zealand’s founding document, TeTiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed in 1840. Finish the day in style with sunset cruise along the Waitangi River, complete with freshly cooked seafood and the region’s signature green-lipped mussels for dinner. 

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

History, Nature, and Cuisine 

When it’s time to farewell Paihia, continue your journey toward Kerikeri, the largest town in Northland. Spend the afternoon exploring the historic Kerikeri Mission Station, a Tohu Whenua heritage site. Here, you’ll have the chance to discover historic and culturally important stories in two of New Zealand’s oldest buildings, the Stone Store (1836) and Kemp House (1822). Embark on a guided tour, savour a meal at the Honey House Cafe or traverse the 200-year-old garden for an intriguing experience that the whole family will enjoy. As your tour of Northland ends, embrace the natural beauty of the area one more time with a short stroll around Rainbow Falls/Waianiwaniwa. Remember to scrub all soil off shoes and gear, use the provided cleaning stations and always stay on the track to protect native flora. For dinner, bring the family to Sovrano Estate, where all will relish divine Italian cuisine, and adults can indulge with a glass of local or Italian wine. Always ensure to appoint a designated driver for a safe journey home. 


After your luxe escape across the Northland, you’ll have experienced the best of the Bay of Islands, journeyed through historic towns and experienced a diverse range of scenery and landscapes.