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20 BEST Walks in Whangarei & Whangarei Heads

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The Top Walking Trails in Whangarei

Tie up your hiking boots because there’s a lot to discover in Whangarei on just two feet! From easy-going riverside strolls in the city to full-day hikes along the coast of the Whangarei Heads, Whangarei is packed with walks for those who love the great outdoors. We go through some of the best Whangarei walks on this list.

1. AH Reed Kauri Park (25 Mins Loop)

You can’t visit the Northland region of New Zealand without seeing a kauri forest! Kauri are the largest trees in New Zealand and can only be naturally found in the north of the North Island. The AH Reed Kauri Park gets you up close to the forest giants on a treetop boardwalk that takes only 25 minutes to complete. The AH Reed Kauri Park connects to the Hatea River Walk and Whangarei Falls making for a longer walk (2 hrs 30 mins one-way).

Location: Whareora Road, Tikipunga.

12 Whangarei Walks You Can't Miss© Pxhere

2. Whangarei Falls (30 Mins Loop)

One of the most iconic natural attractions in the whole Northland region, Whangarei Falls is a must-see! Marvel at this 26 m (85 ft) waterfall from different angles on a 30-minute loop walk crossing the footbridge at the top of the falls and a curved footbridge at the bottom of the falls. Alternatively, continue down the Hatea River Walk to connect to the AH Reed Kauri Park (2 hrs 30 mins one-way).

Location: Ngunguru Road.

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3. Hatea Loop (1-Hour Loop)

For a pleasant walk starting right in Whangarei city centre, take the Hatea Loop Walkway. This sealed walkway follows the waterfront starting in the Town Basin, packed with shops, cafes and art galleries. The walk takes past various sculptures and award-winning bridges.

Location: Start at the Town Basin.

12 Whangarei Walks You Can't Miss© David Kirkland - Northland Inc

4. Hatea River Walkway (2 Hrs 30 Mins One Way)

Follow the Hatea River Walkway through the highlights of Whangarei, including the Town Basin, Mair Park, the AH Reed Kauri Park, and Whangarei Falls. There’s a mix of pleasant bush walks and urban landscapes to enjoy on this 6 km (3.7 mi) walk.

Location: Start from either Whangarei Falls, Ngunguru Road or the Town Basin.

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5. Parihaka Reserve (40-50 Minutes One Way)

A couple of walks wind their way up to (or start at) the summit of Mt Parihaka. Mt Parihaka is the mountain prominently seen in the Whangarei skyline, offering amazing views of the city and harbour. Take the Hokianga/Dobbie Track (50 minutes one-way) from Mair Park or from the summit car park. Alternatively, take the 40-minute Ross Track from Dundas Road. All these tracks are grade 3 bike trails too.

Location: The Hokianga/Dobbie Track to the summit starts from Mair Park. The Ross Track starts from Dundas Road.

Lisa Conze on Wikipedia© Lisa Conze on Wikipedia

6. Abbey Caves Track (2 Hours Loop)

The Abbey Caves doesn’t exactly take 2 hours to complete, but it definitely will after you spend time exploring the three amazing caves on this track. The Abbey Caves Track crosses farmland with unusual limestone outcrops to three caves with streams running through the bottom (be prepared to get wet feet).

Location: 71 Abbey Caves Road.

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7. Mt Manaia (2 Hours Return)

If you have your own transport, make a special journey to the Whangarei Heads, just a 20-30-minute drive from the city. While there are many things to do at Whangarei Heads, don’t miss the Mt Manaia walk for some sensational views! The 3.5km (2-mile) track steeply climbs through native forest to the summit with breathtaking 360 views of the Whangarei Harbour.

Location: Whangarei Heads Road.

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8. Bream Head – Te Whara Track (6 Hours One Way)

For a real hike in the Whangarei area, make sure you hit the Te Whara Track at the Bream Head Reserve. This 6-hour one-way hike goes through protected kiwi habitat to some sensational views at the end of the Whangarei Heads. There are also shorter walks in the reserve like the 3-hour return Peach Cove Track which links with the Te Whara Track and provides an overnight option at the Peach Cove Hut. For more experiences nearby, check out the 15 Best Things to Do at Whangarei Heads.

Location: Whangarei Heads. The Te Whara track goes between the Ocean Beach car park on Ranui Road and the Urquharts Bay car park. The Peach Cove Track can be found 4 km (2 mil) along Ocean Beach Road.

20 BEST Walks in Whangarei & Whangarei Heads© Northland Inc

9. Mt Aubrey and the Reotahi Coastal Walkway (2 Hrs 30 Mins Loop)

More amazing walks at Whangarei Heads that incorporate both mountain climbs and coastal views are those at Reotahi. A loop walk links up a climb up Mt Aubrey and down again, then follows the coastline with views out to the Reotahi Marine Reserve. The Mt Aubrey walk takes about 2 hours to complete, while the Reotahi Coastal Walkway takes about 30 minutes one way.

Location: Whangarei Heads. The Mt Aubrey Walk can be started from either Tiller Park on Reotahi Road or from the car park at the end of Bay View Road at Munroy Bay. The Reotahi Walkway goes between the car park at the end of Bay View Road at Munroy Bay and the car park at the end of Beach Road.

12 Whangarei Walks You Can't Miss© NZPocketGuide.com

10. Smugglers Bay Loop Track (2 Hours Loop)

Another stunning walk at Whangarei Heads, the Smugglers Bay Loop Track is a 3 km (2-mile) loop past a World War Two gun emplacement, coastal forest and to the secluded Smugglers Bay. Alternatively, there is a 20-minute track over farmland to Smugglers Bay.

Location: Whangarei Heads. Start from the Urquharts Bay car park off Urquharts Bay Road at the end of the Whangarei Heads Road.

12 Whangarei Walks You Can't Miss© Northland Inc

11. Waipu Caves Track (25 Mins Loop)

Moving onto the Bream Bay side of Whangarei (just south of the city), Waipu Caves is an amazing natural attraction. See limestone features and glowworms on this 890 m (973-yard) loop track through a mix of farmland and regenerating forest. Check out more adventures you could be having in Bream Bay in 10 Best Things to Do in Waipu & Bream Bay.

Location: Waipu Caves Road, approximately 13 km (8 mi) northwest of Waipu. The most straightforward route is via Shoemaker Road.

russellstreet on Flickr© russellstreet on Flickr

12. Piroa Falls Track (10-Minutes One Way)

Another picturesque waterfall to check out in the Whangarei area is down the 10-minute Piroa Falls Track. The walk takes you through native forest to the beautiful Piroa Falls, which is also an awesome swimming spot in summer. Add it to your waterfall bucket list along with the 20 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand!

Location: Waipu Gorge Road, approximately 14 km (9 mi) south of Waipu. From State Highway 1, take Waipu Gorge Road until you see the Piroa Falls signposted.

russellstreet on Flickr© russellstreet on Flickr

13. Pukenui Forest Loop (3-4 Hours Loop)

Escape the city to the nearby Pukenui Forest, which hosts a couple of excellent walking trails. The family-friendly option is the 3-4-hour Pukenui Forest Trail, which meanders along a picturesque stream through kauri and totara forest. Alternatively, the Taraire Ridge Track is a more technical trail that crosses a ridge through stunning native forest. Allow 4-5 hours for this loop track.

Location: End of Amalin Drive, Three Mile Bush. Both trails start by crossing a boundary fence and a stream before reaching the official trailheads.

12 Whangarei Walks You Can't Miss© NZPocketGuide.com

14. Otaika Valley Walk (2-3 Hours One Way)

Easily accessible from the Whangarei suburbs, the Otaika Valley Walk is a 2-3-hour walk through farmland, young forest and back onto the city streets. Part of the trail takes hikers up to excellent viewing areas across Whangarei and Maungatapere before reaching 264 m (866 ft) above sea level with views across the valley.

Location: Otaika Valley Road (SH15), Otaika.

12 Whangarei Walks You Can't Miss© NZPocketGuide.com

15. Onerahi and Waimahanga Walkway (45 Mins One Way)

Linked with the Hatea Loop Walkway in Whangarei city, the Onerahi & Waimahanga Walkway is a 6 km (4 mi) cycle and walkway taking you along a former railway route. You’ll pass through a mangrove forest rich in wildlife! The whole walkway takes about 45 minutes to complete on foot.

Location: While there are several access points to the walk, the most popular is at the end of Waimahanga Road, Onerahi.

12 Whangarei Walks You Can't Miss© Kahuroa on Wikipedia

5 More Walks in Whangarei

And if the above walks were not enough, here are five more honourable mentions to add to the list!

  1. Coronation Reserve – The Selwyn Avenue Link (30 mins one way) and Quarry Gardens Link (1 hour one way) explore the reserve behind the Whangarei Quarry Gardens – Russell Road, Whangarei.
  2. Motukiore Island Walk (2 hrs 30 mins one way) – Explore the coast of Parua Bay and cross the sandspit at low tide to reach Motukiore Island with its historical pa site and kiwi habitat – Whangarei Heads Road, Parua Bay
  3. Matapōuri / Whale Bay – Admire white-sand beaches, forest and tremendous coastal views from the Matapouri Headland Track (40 mins one way), Whale Bay Track (20 mins one way), Morrison Reserve Track (20 mins) or the Ridge Track (15 mins one way) – 1070 Matapouri Road, Matapōuri.
  4. Tamaterau Coastal Walkway (15 mins one way) – Follow the rocky pohutukawa-lined harbour of Tamaterau at Whangarei Heads – 644 Whangarei Heads Road, Tamaterau.
  5. Waipū Coastal Walkway – A pleasant coastal trail takes you to a small rock beach, limestone pancake rocks and native bush. Waipu Cove to Waterman Drive takes 1 hr 30 mins and Waterman Drive to Langs Beach takes a further 45 mins – 903 Cove Road Waipū, Waipu Cove.

More About Whangarei

While the above walks are a great way to see the city and surrounding coastal communities and reserves, make sure you don’t miss the 20 Best Things to Do in Whangarei. Plus, stay in one of the 10 Best Hotels in Whangarei. For more hiking experiences, check out the following:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed you’re likely to find it in The Complete Travel Guide to Whangarei.

Sources:

The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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