Whangarei Heads Day trip

Whangarei Heads Day trip


We have a great range of eating options. Top Sail Restaurant in Onerahi offers fine dining and the Parua Bay Pub offers an excellent gastropub menu – both are harbourside with stunning views. There are fish and chips at McLeod Bay year-round, and also at Treasure Island at Pataua South during the summer months. There are two cafes at the Parua Bay shopping centre, Smith and Local, and New Day, both offering a good selection of food to eat in or takeaway.



We are surrounded by them! Being on a peninsular we have ocean beaches on one side and harbour beaches on the other. Depending on the weather and wind, and what you want to do, there will be one to suit you.

More info here 


Whangarei Heads is a walkers’ paradise.

From short easy strolls to the more challenging five-hour Te Whara track from Ocean Beach to Urquhart Bay (or reversed) there are walks to suit all fitness levels and a variety of interests.

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Whether you are after something for your extended family of 12 or a cosy retreat for one or two, there are many different accommodation types available. Use Whangarei Heads as a base for your day trips around the North, returning to your “temporary home” after each outing.

More info here


When you’ve walked all the walks and been to all the beaches, had a fish off the wharf at Urquhart Bay or McLeod Bay or Parua Bay, had a coffee somewhere – you might be ready for something else:

Heads Up Adventures – for an exhilarating downhill ride

Coastal Riding Whangarei Heads – for a horse-riding adventure

Pacific Coast Kayaks – for an ocean or harbour paddle

Cronin Fishing Charters – for the best spot to catch a big one

Manaia Fitness – for a work-out if you need more

Whangarei Heads Yoga – for mindfulness

Bream Head Coast Walks – for all your walking needs

Abbey Caves – for some underground excitement

Trial Flights Onerahi Airport – for some stunning views

More info here


You can fish from the land – there are wharves at Parua Bay, McLeod Bay and Urquhart Bay, a bridge at Pataua – and lots of rocks. You can ask a local for some good spots to try but we’re not sure if they’ll share … Or the sea – there are boat ramps at Parua Bay and Urquhart Bay and you can also beach launch in many places too.

Historic Information

Maori originally settled the area and there is archaeological evidence of dense early occupation around the Bream Head area, no doubt this was in part due to the close proximity of the sea and the moderate climate. Many middens are still clearly visible today, there are examples on the roadside around Taurikura and near the track as you walk between Urquhart Bay and Smugglers Bay.

Following the Highland Clearances, the first European settlers in the area came from the Scottish Highlands, via Nova Scotia and Australia around 1853. The “Gazelle” was the first to bring settlers to Waipu and a few made the journey across the harbour to the Heads, strong links still remain between these two communities.

Other pioneers soon followed them from the United Kingdom – among them the Jaggers from Yorkshire, the Odys from Wiltshire and the Robinsons from Ireland. Many of the descendants of these families are still proud to call this area home. A Celtic summer school – Gaidhealtachd – is held every year at the Whangarei Heads School celebrating this heritage.

During WWII a naval radar station was built above Ocean Beach, as well as a gun emplacement at Home Point, as a defence against possible invasion. The painting inside the gun emplacement gives a good picture of the coastline at the time and was intended to help with positioning and aiming the guns.

Te Araroa Trail

Te Araroa is New Zealand’s long-distance tramping trail. It stretches from Cape Reinga in the north to Bluff in the south. It was officially opened in December 2011 and is supported by a website with downloadable maps, stories, trail status and alert information. The trail passes through the Whangarei Heads area and this section concludes with a harbour crossing to Ruakaka if you are travelling north to south.

Great View from Mt Manaia

Great View from Mt Manaia

The Bream Head Scenic Reserve

The Bream Head Scenic Reserve is an area of significant ecological, historical and environmental importance. It is one of the best examples of coastal rainforest remaining in Northland. It is of special significance to Maori who considers the area as wahi tapu (sacred). The coastal headland runs between Ocean Beach and Urquhart Bay and is part of the dramatic skyline vista you see when heading north over the Brynderwyns. For locals, it is the emotional first sight of home when returning here. The reserve is cared for by the Department of Conservation, in partnership with the Bream Head Conservation Trust, and local iwi.

Kiwi Sanctuary

Conservation groups such as Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum, Backyard Kiwi and the Bream Head Conservation Trust have worked tirelessly for more than 20 years in this area to protect biodiversity, kill predators and weeds, and make Whangarei Heads a haven for kiwi. Indeed, many of us really do have them in our backyards and hear them regularly. Occasionally we get to see them in their natural environment too. Whangarei Heads has bucked the national trend of declining kiwi numbers, and we now estimate there are around 800 living wild with us.

Where Giants Gather

This initiative was started by Tourism New Zealand and in our area, the Discover Whangarei Heads committee worked with Northland Inc to produce an “Amazing Northland Road Trip”. The trip runs from the Town Basin in Whangarei city to Ocean Beach and the map includes activities and highlights. It is downloadable from our website and paper copies are available in many local shops and accommodation venues.

More info here



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