The Budget Guide to Whangarei
Many will agree that venturing north leaves you with no regrets! Whangarei is one of the cheapest cities to enjoy in New Zealand thanks to its huge array of free attractions. Waterfalls, glowworm caves, beaches, wildlife sanctuaries and countless walks are on the “free things to do” list, while budget accommodations are plentiful and varied enough to suit most types of budget traveller.
So whether you’re a backpacker, a couple on a budget getaway or a family looking for an affordable escape, this guide to Whangarei on a budget will ensure you stick to your travel budget with ease!
Tips for Visiting Whangarei on a Budget
- Whangarei has a huge range of free attractions. However, it’s best to have your own vehicle to visit them with ease. Alternatively, public buses provide transport in and around Whangarei and Whangarei Heads
- Whangarei has a varied selection of budget accommodations, including motels, holiday parks and hostels, most of which have cooking facilities should you want to save money on food through self-catering
- Travel in the off-season, June to September, to find deals on accommodation and activities. Be aware that some attractions have reduced hours in the off-season
- Fill your time with some of the free and cheap attractions in Whangarei
- Follow our advice in 11 Ways to Save Money When Backpacking in New Zealand.
Free Activities in Whangarei
Whangarei is brimming with free things to do. If you don’t believe us, just check out the 18 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Whangarei! Waterfalls, gardens, beaches and walking trails are located in and around Whangarei, filling up several days in Whangarei on a budget.
One of the free highlights of Whangarei is the magnificent 26m (85ft) waterfall, Whangarei Falls. The falls, just 5km (3 miles) from the city centre, features a short walk with several viewing areas to enjoy the tumbling water in all of its glory. Extend your time here further with the Hatea River Walk taking you to the AH Reed Kauri Park. Find out more about these walks in the 12 Whangarei Walks You Can’t Miss.
Did you know you can see glowworms for free in Whangarei? The Abbey Caves just outside of the city offers three exciting caves nestled in farmland and unusual limestone rock formations. The caves take around two hours to visit and can be found along the Abbey Caves Road approximately 4km (2 miles) from the city centre.
Whangarei has a couple of excellent gardens that are well worth checking out. The Whangarei Quarry Gardens just off State Highway One is a subtropical oasis unlike anywhere else in New Zealand. Check out spiny trees, see pineapple plants and native birds dancing around the weird and wonderful tropical plants. Alternatively, Botanica offers some interesting displays of native ferns with an eel pond, a Japanese garden and more. Find Botanica on First Avenue in the city centre.
More free activities can be found at the beach! Check out the 10 Best Beaches in Whangarei for more information.
Cheap Activities in Whangarei
If you’re willing to spend a little for a good time in Whangarei then you have a good selection of cheap activities to choose from.
For entry by donation, the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre is a fantastic opportunity to see some native birds. In the aviaries, you could see kingfishers, moreporks, harrier hawks and even a kiwi bird, depending on what rescued birds are in recovery before being released back into the wild. The tuis here have even learned how to talk!
Next to the Native Bird Recovery Centre are more natural wonders at Kiwi North, Museum & Heritage Park. For only around NZ$20 per adult, you have access to the complex’s kiwi house, tuatara and gecko displays, as well as a museum and a full heritage park. Find both Kiwi North and Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre off State Highway 14, approximately 6km (4 miles) from Whangarei city centre.
Finally, there are some quirky finds in Whangarei city, the quirkiest of which is Claphams Clocks! Browse an intriguing array of weird and wonderful clocks, from water clocks to ancient sundials and more. For around NZ$10 per adult, it’s worth a nosy.
For more cheap experiences, check out the 18 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Whangarei.
Dining on a Budget in Whangarei
Our first advice for those travelling on a budget is always to cook meals in your accommodation to save money on food. But, well, if you must experience the local cuisine then there are a few great places in Whangarei that won’t blow your budget.
Experience flavours from all over the world at places like Mean’s Vietnamese Cafe (13 Rathbone Street), Khane Bahar Indian Restaurant and Bar (2/95 Kamo Road) and Turkuaz Cafe (24 Rathbone Street) – all of which are some of the most affordable eats in the city.
For a fun hip hop theme with a creative menu of bagels, head to Biggie Bagels (7 Bank Street). If on a road trip on the Whangarei Heads Road, don’t miss having some classic Kiwi fish and chips at McLeod Bay Fish and Chips (5 Reotahi Road).
For more food-related stuff, check out The Foodie Guide to Whangarei.