1. Visit Rangikapiti Pa
Not only does the Rangikapiti Pa provide amazing panoramic views, but it’s also a historic site. A pa site is an old Maori fortified village and the remain of the village can still be seen today in the distinct terraces and defensive ditch carved into the hill. Either walk or drive to the top of the hill.
Location: Rangikapiti Road, Mangonui.
2. Hike the Matai Bay HEadland Track
Cross rolling green farmland and native manuka forest on your way to some rewarding views of Matai Bay and Waikato Bay. This walk takes about 1h30mins to complete and can be found on the Karikari Peninsula. Parts of the track are not as obvious to follow than other tracks in New Zealand so make sure you follow the orange markers.
Location: Start from the Matai Bay Campsite, at the end of Matai Road.
3. Climb up Mt Puheke
For more amazing views of the Karikari Peninsula, don’t miss Mt Puheke! Otherwise known as Puheke Hill, Mt Puheke is one of the very few volcanoes in Northland. Rising 130m above sea level, you’ll get incredible views, especially of the 18km-long Tokerau Beach. What’s more, it’s only a 20-minute climb to the viewpoint from the road.
Location: Puheke Road, Karikari Peninsula. Park at the lower car park on the gravel road. There is a higher car park, but it’s only suitable for 4×4 vehicles.
4. Visit Coca Cola Lake
Although its real name is Lake Rotopokaka, Coca Cola Lake takes this new common name thanks to the dark tannins making the water coloured like Coca Cola. The lake is a popular swimming spot, especially since those dark waters get nice and warm on sunny days, as well as picnicking. For those who want to explore a bit further, there is an easy walking track from the lake to Tokerau Beach, Karikari Peninsula’s longest beach!
Location: End of Ramp Road. Karikari Peninsula.
5. Check out the Taumarumaru Reserve
An easy 40-minute loop walk takes you around the Taumarumaru Scenic Reserve famous for holding three Maori pa sites! See terraces and storage pits etched into this rocky headland and find a small and secluded beach along the way.
Location: Along State Highway 10 signposted between Coopers Beach and Cable Bay.
6. Do some wine tasting
The Karikari Estate is New Zealand’s northernmost winery, complete with a tasting room, cellar door sales and cafe. Relax with a glass among the vines and revel at the amazing coastal scenery. For more great wineries, see 10 Excellent Wine Tours in New Zealand.
Location: Matai Bay Road, Karikari Peninsula.
7. Explore the town of Mangonui
Steeped in both Maori and European history, Mangonui is home to some old-worldly buildings showing that it was once a bustling whaling and trading town. Now the heritage buildings are shops, accommodation, cafes and more! Mangonui is a sweet place to walk around, and don’t forget to grab yourself some fish and chips from the “World-Famous” fish and chip shop.
Location: Mangonui is just off State Highway 10.
8. Take a bus trip to Cape Reinga & Ninety Mile Beach
Hitting the “top of the North” is one most adventurous travellers’ New Zealand bucket list. Mangonui is a great base to start this trip with some bus tours doing pick-ups in the town. Take a scenic bus journey onto the sands of Ninety Mile Beach, do some sandboarding down the sand dunes, and see the picture-perfect Cape Reinga Lighthouse.
Location: Dune Rider Tours does pick-ups from Mangonui.
9. Visit the Whalers museum, whaler’s house and gardens at Butler POint
Get a glimpse into the heritage of New Zealand at Butler Point, just off the shores of Mangonui. Check out the Whalers Museum, with fascinating relics on display, to the original 1840s home of a whaling captain. All of this is surrounded by breathtaking gardens and coastal views. It’s a hidden gem you’ll be glad to discover.
Location: Merchant Road, west of Mongonui. From State Highway 10, turn onto Hihi Road then Merchant Road. The museum and gardens are open by appointment.
10. Go to the beach
Finally, we can’t go without mentioning all the amazing golden-sand beaches in Doubtless Bay! First, you have Taipa Beach with both open ocean and an estuary, perfect for swimming, fishing and launching a boat. There’s also the picturesque Bable Bay with its unique pinkish sand and rock pools to explore. Coopers Beach stretches 2km along State Highway 10, which is safe for swimming and backed with pohutukawa trees. Don’t miss Hihi Beach at sunset. And finally, if all these beaches weren’t enough then you need only drive up the Karikari Peninsula to find Perehipe, Tokerau, Matai Bay, Rangiputa and Puheke Beaches!
Location: All over Doubtless Bay!