Northland Top 10 – Backpacking Tips

Top 10 Northland of New Zealand

Top 1. Cape Reinga
Top 2. Shipwreck Bay
Top 3. Rarawa Beach
Top 4. Henderson Bay
Top 5. Abbey Caves
Top 6. Smugglers Bay & Cove-Bussy Head Loop Track
Top 7. Waipoua Forest Kauris
Top 8. Rainbow Falls
Top 9. Waiotemarama Bush Walk
Top 10. Tapotupotu DoC


Today we want to show you the, in our opinion, most beautiful places of northland. Northland starts around Whangarei and goes up all the way to the north, so even the far north belongs to northland. The last city north is Kaitaia, the place where we stayed for a few month while working. Even if it is called „the capital of murders“, we can’t complain about our stay there. While working we slept most of the time in Ahipara, a small village next to the beach and with a nice campground just 5 minutes away from the ocean.


Cape Reinga

A Cape, a lighthouse, a hiking trail, impressive mountains, steep cliffs and a sacred place for the Maori; that’s Cape Reinga! A beautifully landscaped path leads down a hill to the lighthouse, past palm trees and all sorts of vegetation. To the left you can see the Tasman Sea, to the right the Pacific Ocean. On wooden boards along the way you can read the story of Capes in English and Maori. At night you can see millions of stars and the Milky Way fog. The road there is well developed and completely paved.

Cape Reinga and the lighthouse


Shipwreck Bay

The 90-mile beach spans 88 km (55 miles) on the west coast of Northland and has many beaches to take a sunbath, surf, swim and enjoy the beautiful nature. Shipwreck Bay is a part of that and especially popular with surfers. Through a gentle curve made by the beach, the waves run from one end of the beach to the other without breaking. The current is not as strong as on other beaches Ahiparas and therefore well suited for swimming. Once in the sea you have a fantastic view of the jungle and with a bit of luck you can see at low tide a part of the shipwreck (a chimney), which gives the beach its name.

Shipwreck Bay Ahipara


Rarawa Beach

In Northland there are many white sand beaches with blue sea and beautiful landscape around it. Rarawa Beach offers only the best of everything! It is the whitest beach in New Zealand and has the softest sand we could ever feel under our feet. The sea shimmers in the most intense blue and turquoise tones, lined with jungle-covered mountains. The small river that you have to cross to get to the beach is about ankle-high and usually warmed up pleasantly by the sun. A beach, as if you are in a dream!

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The whitest beach in New Zealand, Rarawa Beach.


Henderson Bay

A long gravel road leads you to a small parking area above the beach. From here you have a wonderful view! Turquoise sea, white sandy beach, lined up with jungle. If you are not overwhelmed by its beauty, you just want to go down to the beach and into the sea for a swim! Just wonderful, enjoy!

Henderson Bay


Abbey Caves

A circular path leads over some meadows and past 3 individual caves, which you can all commit. With headlamp and water shoes you are perfectly equipped for the upcoming adventure. The entrances are partly hidden and you have to climb over big rocks down into the dark cave. At the bottom, it gets noticeably colder and darker, after a lot of rain, the water can stand knee high and higher. As soon as the eyes are used to the darkness, the journey into a beautiful world begins! As soon as you have moved away from the entrance and switched off the flashlights, wait a few minutes and you will see a Galaxy of fireflies!

Abbey Caves New Zealand


Smuggler’s Bay & Cove Bussy Head Loop Track

The Bussy Head Loop track takes about 2-3 hours, offers beautiful views and leads past the Smugglers Bay. At the entrance of the track is a free parking slot. Started the track leads the way to a cow meadow, up to a bunker system from the Second World War (very informative and interesting). As soon as you leave the cow meadow, the path leads uphill into a forest. The effort is quickly rewarded with a view of beautiful beaches with turquoise blue sea! The last half hour leads you downhill to Smugglers Bay: white sandy beach, turquoise sea, bordered by steep cliffs and forest – absolutely gorgeous!

Smugglers Bay


Waipoua Forest and Kauris Walk

A road leads through the middle of the jungle, past the largest living Kauri trees! The first stop is Tane Mahuta, “Father of the Forest”, estimated at 1250-2500 years. A few kilometers further, the next stop with 3 other Kauris invites you for easy hikes. The 4 Sisters, Yakas and Te Matua Ngahere are all accessible via different distances. The trails are all well developed, very easy to walk and lead through beautiful, natural jungle. While you enjoy the nature around you, you are suddenly completely unexpected before the tree giants! We were (and are) too deeply impressed by these amazing wonders of nature.

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Tane Mahuta


Rainbow Falls

The 27m high waterfall is located between Waipapa and Kerikeri. There is a large parking lot where chickens roam free (funny to watch as they are very friendly). There are three paths, one leads to a plateau above the waterfall, another leads directly to the pool and the last is a circular walk of about an hour. At the roadside we found tons of oranges and only later found out that there are orange trees! The pool is ideal for swimming and you can climb behind the water curtain. In good weather, the Rainbow Falls live up to their name – the fine mist of water over the pool makes for a rainbow!

Rainbow Falls Kerikeri

Waiotemarama Bush Walk and waterfall

At the entrance of the path there is a small parking lot, from this one passes a small gate and stands in front of a European-looking forest. But after the first few meters gives way to the first impression and granted a wow effect the place. Primeval forest as you imagine it; Fern, palm trees, deep dense green and a river next to it. After about 15 minutes, the river gets louder and the path leads up a gentle hill. Once at the top, a staircase leads directly down to the waterfall. A path made of stones allows the crossing and overlooks a clear pool. We found this place in rainy weather already fantastic, not to imagine how wonderful he is in the sunshine.

Waiotemarama Falls


Tapotupotu DoC campsite

The nearest campsite at Cape Reinga. It offers several large lawns, toilets, cold showers and direct access to the beach. Opposite the campsite, separated by a sandy beach and a small river, is a small mountain formed by volcanic activity. Lava stones can be found everywhere along the river. If one follows this, it leads one directly to the sea. On the right side of the river you can climb over the volcanic rock along the cliffs and find beautiful places! The sea is ideal for swimming, alternatively, you can pull on a bodyboard of a quad – water skiing with a difference!

Tapotupotu Doc Campingplatz


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