The Twin Coast Discovery Highway is an 800km circular touring route around the Northland Region, in the north of the NorthIsland, taking in all of the best that the north has to offer.
You will need at least a week to even start to appreciate the diverseness of this region while travelling. the Twin Coast Discovery Highway.There are many side roads and by-ways off the route that need to be checked out.There are thousands of amazing beaches and magnificent landscapes to be appreciated.Take your time, stop and chat with the friendly locals.Indulge yourself in Northlands activities, for an experience you will never forget.
The circular Twin Coast Discovery Highway starts in Auckland on State Highway One, heading north from there you will pass through the rapidly growing seaside town of Orewa.Just a couple of km north of Orewa is Waiwera with thermal hot pools situated beside the beach.A little further north you will come across the MahurangiRegionalPark, it has some lovely beaches and nice short walks.
After looking around Wellsford you can head east off the route to Mangawhai and follow this stunning coast to the small Scottish settlement of Waipu.Next is Whangarei the main centre of Northland.The Tutukaka coast drive is well worth the detour as is the drive out to the Whangarei Heads.
North of Whangarei you can either stay on the Discovery Highway to Kawakawa, or 6km after Hikurangi turn right down Old Russell Road and follow the coast through to Russell, in the Bay of Islands.
When you have seen and done all that the Bay of Island has to offer head for Kerikeri the home of New Zealands oldest stone building and the fruit growing capital of the North. Next on the itinerary is the Whangaroa Harbour, MangonuiHarbour and DoubtlessBay.The KarikariPeninsula with MataiBay is a beautiful area, with abundant birdlife and beautiful beaches. Matai Bay is a must see.
Then The Twin Coast Discovery Highway goes west to Kaitaia, which is the gateway to the Far North and NinetyMileBeach.CapeReinga is a highlight in this area. It is the northernmost point of New Zealand and is where the mighty Pacific and TasmanOceans meet and where the Maori believe the spirits of the dead depart to the other world.
West of Kaitaia is Ahipara and the stunning ShipwrecksBay.Following the route south you will pass through forgotten countryside to the HokiangaHarbour, the home of Maoridom and the local Nga Puhi Maori tribe.You will have to ferry across the harbour from Kohu Kohu on the north side of Rawene, then the route follows State Highway 12 to Opononi, then south to the WaipuaForest where the magnificent Kauri tree, Tane Mahuta stands a short walk for the road.
Staying on SH12 south to the milling town of Dargaville, then the route returns to Whangarei.Another option is to head south from Dargaville on SH12 skirting the top of the KaiparaHarbour joining SH1 at the Brynderwyns, then back to Auckland.
The Twin Coast Discovery Highway takes in all the special elements of Northland and puts you in touch with the region’s profound mystique.You will see quaint old churches still in use today, grand colonial homesteads with glorious and lush gardens, tiny cottages rich in charm and historic Pa sites – the home of early Maori – carved into hilltops and headlands.The ocean is an inherent part of the region and Northland will satisfy your quest for acquatic pleasure, whether that is to admire the seaviews, go swimming, fishing or boating or venture into the oceans depths. Northland has worldrenowned diving locations, abundant fishing, exceptional sailing and cruising and stunning beaches – both remote and intimate or popular and populated.
Warkworth & Matakana Escape
Heading out of Auckland on State Highway 1 travel for 60 kms and you will reach the lovely riverside town of Warkworth, from here your escape begins.
Warkworth is not only a “must visit” it is also the gateway to the Matakana Coast Wine Country, with its attractive vineyards and vibrant local markets. Beaches, nature reserves and a variety of recreational activities are all a short distance from Warkworth village.
From Warkworth travel out to Matakana village. If you happen to be here on a Saturday morning you will be able to enjoy the vibrant farmer’s market which is a focal point for locals and growers to meet. Luscious produce from the area fills the stalls – fruit and vegetables, delicious home baking and Italian-style sausages, divine organic chocolate, fine wines and boutique olive oils, locally brewed beer, the all important morning coffee and live music as an accompaniment. From here you can visit the great selection of boutique vineyards acclaimed for their Chardonnay, Pinto Gris and classic red varieties. Check out Herons Flight Vineyard, you will not only be able to taste the best reds ever but you can also enjoy a fine dining experience.
The attractions in this area are endless. Visit the charming village of Leigh, home to the unique Leigh Sawmill Cafe. You can head out to Goat Island which is a Marine Reserve near Leigh. It’s a great place to explore the amazing underwater environment. You can join a dive charter or hire diving gear, or if you want to stay dry, take a tour of the reserve in a glass bottom boat. Visit Omaha Beach, with it’s lovely white sand, have a swim or a quiet stroll along the beach.
From Sandspit you can catch a ferry across to Kawau Island. This island is the home to wildlife, shipwrecks and Mansion House to name a few highlights.