We decided to drive up to Northland instead of drive down to southern part of North Island like what normal traveler do. Our objective is to reach tip of North New Zealand, which located at Cape Reinga.
We start driving from Auckland to Paihia, our first overnight stay around 3pm local time. Travel time was 3 hours drive approximately 225 km. Pleasant driving with 1 stop we make at Wellsford, 150 km from Paihia.
We reached Paihia in the late evening. After checked in to the hotel, we went out and look for dinner. We found a seaside restaurant named Alongside Restaurant. Very nice restaurant with great sunset view. If you just want to hangout have a drink to enjoy the sunset, this is a great place for you. Not great for dinner since the portion is very small but pricey. The blue hour at Paihia was so amazing but a little bit cold though. Make sure to wear thick jacket if you want to stay longer outside. The nicest thing about sitting in this restaurant is they provide a blanket for you!
Note: Update on the Alongside Restaurant. As at September 2018, this restaurant was changed ownership to Zane Grey’s Aquarium and Dock Restaurants and Bars. The view and atmosphere still the same.
Since we had little portion for early dinner,our tummy still craving for food. After look around in Paihia town, we found an Indian restaurant, Delhi 6 – The Indian Kitchen. Nice Indian fusion food! we ordered Hyderabadi Dum Biryani (Chicken). Very tasty and big portion. Good customer service, although we came late to place order, they still accept our orders. Highly recommended! check the map here how to find the restaurant (just above the Four Square supermarket). You can checkout their menu here.
About our accommodation, the motel named is Aloha Seaview Resort Motel. Cost NZD110 per night for 1 bedroom apartment we booked through booking.com. Aloha Seaview Resort Motel is a , family-friendly motel offering free Wi-Fi, a and stunning The room complete with kitchen, kitchenette and electric blanket in bed.
Bay Of Islands
First in the next morning, we heading to Opua Ferry terminal and cross over to Okiato. 2-way vehicle ferry tickets are NZD26. You can spend a day here just driving around the islands and surrounding.
We visit Haruru Falls after crossing back to Opua ferry terminal. Distance to Haruru Falls about 11 km, 15 min pleasant drive. Haruru Falls located at Kerikeri, about 5km from the town of Paihia, and worth a trip to see. You can take a car and walk two minutes down a track to the Falls.
Next stop was Kaeo, 30 minute drive from Haruru Falls. We stop for takeaway lunch since we were late to reach to Ahipara. You can buy Fish & Chips here or have a meal at Indian Restaurant.
Ahipara located at the southern end of 90 Mile Beach. It’s home to incredible sunsets. If you want to see a dramatic sunset, enjoy an evening walk along the beach at Ahipara. We arrived at Ahipara around 3pm local time. We stayed at seaside holiday home called Escape to 90 mile for second night in Northland. Easy to find and clear instructions from Rachel (the host) how to access the house. This house very nice, cost only NZD145 per night. Idyllic 2 bedroom modern bach, fully self-contained, with awesome elevated views of Ahipara. The ground floor is an open plan flowing out onto the large deck for morning breakfast and sunset BBQs.
Nearest town is Kataia, you can get almost everything here. They have biggest supermarket, Pak’NSave the cheapest supermarket in New Zealand. Distance from Ahipara is 15 min drive. We did stop some beautiful places along the road to snap some pictures, mostly is somebody’s farm and little wild flower farm.
We buy some grocery for BBQ dinner at PakNSave, Kataia. Because BBQ pit is provided in that house, we have a chance to prepare BBQ dinner that night. Ahipara is also best place for stargazing at night, the sky is dark and you can simply see the bright stars.
In the next morning, we prepared own breakfast and have it at the outside deck space, we enjoyed our last moment in the house. I could’ve stayed a week not just one night!
We continue our road trip up to tip north, from Ahipara the drive to Cape Reinga Lighthouse takes about 1.5 hours each way. Cape Reinga offers the ultimate northern New Zealand experience. While it’s not quite the most northern point of New Zealand (North Cape is further north, but it’s a scientific reserve and not open to the public), so Cape Reinga is definitely the end of the road.
The lighthouse presents an impressive sight looking out from the top of the North Island to the meeting of the Tasman and Pacific oceans. Approximately 10,000 people visit the Cape Reinga lighthouse each year. Take a short stroll from the Cape Rēinga car park down to the lighthouse. From here you can enjoy the outstanding panoramic views until you reach to the lighthouse.
Giant Sand Dunes
On the way down, we stop at another great attraction Giant Sand Dunes. About 15 km from Cape Reinga and you have to go through gravel road another 5 km to reach the carpark. Beautiful scenery and free! Unless you want to slide on a boogie board down the dunes then it’s NZ$15 board rentals for a full day.
When it start drizzling we decided to leave the place and continue our long journey back down. We stopped at Kataia for dinner at Indian Restaurant and freshen up at public toilet before continue another 4 hours driving to next destination.
We experienced the most scary route i ever encounter in North New Zealand. Why I called it scary? because we were driving at night and its raining on winding road, foggy and dark. The visibility was so bad, we can’t drive fast and whenever we encounter the car from opposite direction, we have to be extra careful because the road is bit narrow. We passing through Raetea Forest and become so foggy.
Finally we arrived at Kawakawa around 9:30pm at night after 1 hour 30 min driving nonstop from Kataia. We stopped for awhile for toilet break and stretch our legs. There’s onother reason why we stop here in Kawakawa it is because of infamous public toilet, The Hundertwasser.
The Hundertwasser Toilets is a public toilet located at 60 Gilles Street, the main street of the town Kawakawa on New Zealand’s North Island. The structure was completed in 1999 and named after architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who conceived the project. It is one of few toilet blocks seen as an international work of art and a tourist attraction in its own right.
After the break, we continue another 2.5 hour drive with 1 stop at Wellsford to refuel.
Our stay for tonight was Duncansby Road, whangaparaoa. Distance to Auckland Airport is about 60km. Cost for a night was NZD100. Nice & cosy guesthouse room. Very warm-hearted and friendly hosts, very clean and comfortable accomodation made with love. The views from the room were beautiful, and the location quiet at night.
Last day in North Island
Heading to Auckland Airport after self-prepared breakfast. We flew with Jetstar direct to Dunedin (South New Zealand). Fare for 2 person was NZD148 and additional NZD17 for baggage checked-in. Infant is foc.