The Ultimate 3 Day Tutukaka Itinerary

 

Rated as one of the top coastal destinations on the planet by National Geographic Traveller, Tutukaka embodies everything good about kiwi summer holidays. Feast your eyes on endless white-sand beaches, peeling surf breaks, marine reserves and coastal walkways with this ultimate 3-day itinerary.

Day 1 – Waterfalls, Walkways and Wetlands

First stop: Whangarei Falls, just 20 minutes south-west of Tutukaka. Historically a popular eeling spot for the local Maori, the area is now frequented by locals picnicking besides the classic curtain waterfall. Get a birdseye view from the platforms above the falls, before refreshing in the icy pool below.

Then for your beach-fix,  head to Ngunguru – where the road meets the sea. The town is nestled alongside an estuary and surf beach, where waves peel around the headland making for unbeatable right-hand waves. Surfboards, bodyboards and kayaking gear are available to rent from the village.

Stretch your legs on the Ngunguru Mangrove Walkway, an easy 20-minute return walk through bush and mangrove forests. The walk goes between Munroe Places and Kakariki Road. Another good option at low tide is the estuary walkway between Te Maika Road and Whangaumu Bay taking you along the beach. Afterwards, treat yourself to an ice-cream or steak and oyster pie from Salt Air Café.

Before the sun sets, pack a sundowner and check out the Tutukaka Lighthouse. The walking track provides panoramic views of the Tutukaka Coast and famous Poor Knights Islands, and takes around 1 hour return.

Whangerei Falls, Northland

 

Day 2 – Dive or Snorkel the Poor Knights Islands

Tutukaka is the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, where underwater caves, arches, tunnels and sheer cliffs provide the perfect habitat for a variety of marine species. The clear deep waters allow you to see plenty of fish and coral species while commonly bottlenose dolphins also visit the area.

Underwater caverns are a dominate feature of the marine landscape, carved into the rock by centuries of moving water. At least 11 major archways are present, starting above the surface before plummeting to more than 45 metres deep. Navigating these with a posse of manta-ray and schools of fish is a particularly special experience.

You don’t have to be a diver to experience all of this. While Dive! Tutukaka caters to divers wanting to explore under water, the Perfect Day boat cruise offers sight seeing, kayaking, snorkelling and swimming so there’s no risk of your friends missing out.

On return to the marina, fill your tank with a meal at Schnappa Rock Restaurant and Bar located in Tutukaka Marina. The restaurant is proud to support the Forest and Bird Good Fish Guide with their fish being fresh and line caught, ensuring they play their part in a sustainable fishery.

Dive in Tutukaka, New Zealand

 

Day 3 – Go Swimming and Exploring Around Matapouri

Heading north on the Matapouri Road from Tutukaka you’ll find many walking tracks and scenic bays to explore including Whale Bay and Tane Moana. The 45-min (one-way) headland track to Whale Bay will take you from the Northern end of Matapouri over the ridgeline to what Lonely Planet describes as “one of the best beaches in New Zealand”.

The white sand defines the edge of the lush native bush with mature stands of puriri, pohutukawa and kowhai. This contrasted with the clear blue water of this bay makes the location a favourite on Instagram. Whale Bay was an ideal location for Māori to launch their early whaling missions and gives it the name popularly used today.

For those seeking a little more exercise try the Tane Moana track, taking an average of 2-hours one-way. Here you’ll see Tane Moana, the largest remaining kauri tree on the East Coast with an 11-metre circumference. Finish your day with a scoop of Hokey Pokey ice-cream at the Matapouri Bay Store.

 

Accommodation – Lodge 9

Nestled behind the Tutukaka Marina, Lodge 9 is the ideal base for exploring the coast. Its nautical vibe is complimentary of the landscape and fun outdoor spaces are constructed from salvaged materials such as marina piles and wooden boardwalks. This scene combined with native plants, hammocks, a cedar sauna and saltwater pool create an environment that you’ll find hard to leave.

 

Come stay with us

  • We spent two nights at Lodge 9 and it was an absolutely beautiful place to stay after diving in the Poor Knights Marine Reserve. The Lodge is gorgeous, trendy, eco friendly, and such a great space to relax with friends.

    Rach S - TripAdvisor

  • Kate was a warm and welcoming host. The Lodge9 is a fabulous place modern, spacious beautifully decorated. Such a pleasure to have stayed there, fabulous pool and outdoor setup too.

    Melissa I - TripAdvisor

  • This place is just wonderful! The room and living area were beautifully set out and had an amazing aesthetic...The outdoor area and pool were amazing. I had organized to propose to my now-fiance while I was there and the whole team were fully supportive and helped me with organising everything.

    Billy C - TripAdvisor

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