Auckland to Hokianga via Dargaville

Starting from Auckland to Bay of Islands and Hokianga
Total driving time: 10 h 15 min


Discover The Twin Coast
6 Day Trip

  • Bay of Islands beaches
  • Giant kauri trees
  • Dolphin spotting



Day 1: Auckland to Hokianga via Dargaville

Depart Auckland and start your adventure north towards Opononi. On the way explore antique and craft stores in Maungaturoto and Paparoa, or visit the Matakohe Kauri Museum.

Discover Waipoua Forest – home to the majestic Tane Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest and largest Kauri tree in the world.

Continue on to the Hokianga Harbour, where Maori first arrived in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Look out to the stunning sand dunes which after a short ferry ride you could be sandboarding down.

Ancient Kauri Trail Map available here.

Day 2: Hokianga to Kaitaia

Make your way through the fishing village of Rawene, visit the local art galleries and enjoy a coffee at the Boatshed Café before you board the car ferry to Kohukohu.

Journey through yester-year taking in rural New Zealand country-side on your way north to Kaitaia, the main centre for the ‘subtropical’ north.

From here you can arrange a coach tour to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach.

Or visit Shipwreck Bay, aptly named for its many shipwrecks some of which are still visible at low tide. It has also become a famous surfing destination with left-hand breaks and long rides.

Day 3: Kaitaia to Paihia via Doubtless Bay

Continue on to the stunning Doubtless Bay, where you can enjoy lunch at the Mangonui Fish Shop.

The road leading into Kerikeri is bordered by orchards, roadside stalls offer the chance to buy seasonal fruit. Look out for signs showing the way to artists’ studios, which give this district its creative personality.

In Kerikeri you’ll find galleries, cafes, vineyards and fascinating historic sites such as the Stone Store and the Mission House. There are also superb bush walks in the area – Rainbow Falls is a perfect picnic spot.

Spend the evening at Paihia at the heart of the Bay of Islands.

Check out the Te Ara Coast to Coast Map for hidden gems between the Bay of Islands and Hokianga.

Day 4: Spend the day in Bay of Islands

The resort town of Paihia makes an excellent base for exploring the Bay of Islands.

Catch a cruise to the outer islands, go on a dolphin swimming safari, or take a ferry to the charming township of Russell.

The historic Treaty House at Waitangi marks the beginning of New Zealand as a nation and is great place to experience some Maori culture.


Day 5: Paihia to Whangarei

The Tutukaka Coast, near Whangarei was named one of the top coastal destinations in the world by National Geographic Traveller.

Tutukaka is also the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands, a protected marine reserve known for the clarity of its water and abundant sea life. Jacques Cousteau called the Poor Knights Islands one of the top ten dive sites. Click here for a journey map for this area.

Travel the Whangarei Heads scenic drive as it winds through pohutakawa fringed bays with stunning views to the wild and beautiful Ocean Beach. View recommended journey map for this region.


Day 6: Whangarei to Auckland

Slowly make your way back to Auckland via the coastal road.

You will come across beach after beach along the Ruakaka, Waipu, Bream Bay and Mangawhai coastal environment.

At Matakana take a detour to check out the Saturday markets or stop for lunch a local winery.

Back in Auckland, finish your journey with a sunset kayak to Rangitoto or watch the city’s glittering lights from the summit of Mount Eden.


Credit to for this great Itinerary. Read the Full Blog Here.