russellstreet on Flickr© russellstreet on Flickr
russellstreet on Flickr

15 Best Things to Do in Mangawhai

© russellstreet on Flickr

The Activities in Mangawhai and Mangawhai Heads You Can’t Miss!

If you’re looking for a seaside paradise in New Zealand, then you will not be disappointed with Mangawhai! Located 1 hr 20 mins drive north of Auckland and 2 hours below the Bay of Islands, Mangawhai makes a great little pit stop on a Northland road trip! The little settlement known as both Mangawhai and Mangawhai Heads is brimming with surf, sea, sand, art, culture, cuisine and outdoor adventures. Find out what you could be getting up to with this list of things to do in Mangawhai!

1. Hike the Mangawhai Cliff Walk

Climb coastal cliffs and revel in the rugged coastal scenery on the Mangawhai Cliff Walk. This 9 km (6 mi) return walk takes between two to three hours to complete, following a well-marked trail. The track starts at the end of the surf beach and starts with a steep 20-minute climb up some steps to the first lookout – return from the lookout for a worthwhile yet shorter alternative to the full 3-hour hike.

Location: Start from the car park at the end of Wintle Street, Mangawhai.

10 Best Things to Do in Mangawhai© Unsplash

2. Relax or Surf at Mangawhai Heads Beach

You can find two very different beach experiences at Mangawhai Heads: the sheltered waters of the harbour or the roaring waves of the surf beach. The best place for surfing is by the surf club at the end of Wintle Road. Otherwise, you can find nice swimming spots along the harbour.

Location: For the surf beach, park your car at the end of Wintle Road. For harbour beach access, park at the end of Mangawhai Heads Road or North Avenue.

 russellstreet on Flickr© russellstreet on Flickr

3. Check Out the Mangawhai Markets

Grab some real New Zealand souvenirs and try some local produce at the Mangawhai Village Market. The market takes place every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm with stalls selling an array of foods from artisan cheese to olive oils. There are also craft stalls and plenty of opportunities to grab some sweet treats too. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the Mangawhai Tavern Market happening on Saturday from 8:30 am until 1 pm!

Location: Mangawhai Community Market – 34 Insley Street, Mangawhai. Mangawhai Tavern Market – 2 Moir Street, Mangawhai.

Pexels© Pexels

4. Hike in the Tanekaha Forest

Just 6 km (4 mi) inland from Mangawhai Heads is a forest filled with walks, waterfalls and stunning views. In the Tanekaha Forest, choose from the 2-hour Tanekaha Falls Track, the 1-hour Tanekaha Forest Track, the Langsview Track, the Tanekaha Pururi Track and the Tanekaha Botanical Track. The great thing is that many of these walks connect to form loops, so you can make your experience last as little or as long as you like!

Location: All walks except Langsview start from the Tanekaha Forest car park just off King Road, approximately 6 km (4 mi) from Mangawhai Heads.©

5. Visit the Mangawhai Museum

The modern Mangawhai Museum is an affordable activity to do in Mangawhai, with adult admission being under NZ$15. Learn the stories of the Mangawhai and the role that the harbour has played on early Māori settlers, European settlers and today’s holidaymakers. The museum is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm.

Location: Corner of Thelma Street and Molesworth Drive, Mangawhai.

Mangawhai Museum© Mangawhai Museum

6. Let the Kids Loose at the Mangawhai Activity Zone

The most epic playground in the North, the Mangawhai Activity Zone (or “MAZ” for short) was founded by a local community of parents to bring an exciting playground, pump track, skate park, basketball court, cycling and walking trails, picnic facilities, a cafe and more. If you’re travelling with younger ones, make this an essential stop on your itinerary.

Location: 191 Molesworth Drive, Mangawhai.

10 Best Things to Do in Mangawhai© Unsplash

7. Pick up Some Cheese from the Kaiwaka Cheese Shop

The Kaiwaka Cheese Shop stocks both local and imported cheese that would make any cheese-lover happy. Offering a wider range than what’s usually available in New Zealand supermarkets, don’t miss the opportunity to treat yourself!

Location: 1957 State Highway 1, Kaiwaka, approximately 10 minutes drive from Mangawhai.©

8. Try Some Chocolate at Bennetts

If there weren’t enough places to sample mouth-watering cuisine in Mangawhai, here’s one more to add to the list. Bennetts of Mangawhai is a chocolatier company with a cafe and chocolate shop and they even host chocolate workshops for the kids. Find them open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm.

Location: 52 Moir Street, Mangawhai.©

9. Cycle to the Wineries

Hire a bike from one of several operators in town (try Mangawhai Cycles and Coastal EBikes Mangawhai) and do your own self-guided bike tour of Mangawhai! Popular highlights at the local wineries, such as Millars Vineyard and Te Whai Bay Wines, which offer wine tastings at their cellar doors and host the occasional summer festival. Be sure to look up opening hours, which may be reduced in winter.

Location: Millars Vineyard – 26 Bush Lane, Mangawhai. Te Whai Bay Wines – 367 King Road, RD2, Mangawhai.©

10. Play Golf

Visitors are welcome to play at the all-weather course at the Mangawhai Golf Club. Test your skills on this links-style championship course set among natural parklands. Hire some gear from the golf shop and spend a great day outdoors! For more places to play, check out the 20 Best Golf Courses in New Zealand.

Location: Molesworth Drive, Mangawhai.

10 Best Things to Do in Mangawhai© Unsplash

5 More Things to Do in Mangawhai

And for some honourable mentions, here are five more things to do in the wonderful Mangawhai and Mangawhai Heads:

  1. Mangawhai Beach Sand Dunes – Bodyboard or explore the dunes behind Mangawhai’s surf beach – 147 Wintle Street, Mangawhai Heads
  2. Learn to SurfAotearoa Surf School and Mangawhai Heads Surf School offers group and private lessons for all ages
  3. Experience Fishing – Join RNR Charters for a scenic fishing charter out to the Hauraki Gulf and Mokohinau, Hen & Chicken and Great Barrier Islands
  4. Check Out the Art Galleries – There’s always something interesting to see at the Mangawhai Artists Gallery (45 Moir Street) and Pipi Gallery (331 King Road)
  5. Visit Waipu – The neighbouring town features beaches, caves, waterfalls and more, as listed in the 10 Best Things to Do in Waipu & Bream Bay.

More Things to Do Near Mangawhai

That’s it for our list of the best things to do in Mangawhai. Of course, Mangawhai is just a small part of the Northland region, so make sure you explore the rest with these guides:

Finally, plan the rest of your trip around Te Ika-a-Māui with the 51 Best Things to Do on the North Island.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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