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Orewa is a bustling beach resort just north of Auckland on the Hibiscus Coast There is lovely reserve and childrens playground between the main road and the beach ideal for a picnic lunch and to let kids run off any excess energy. Not much further on are the Waiwera Hot Thermal Pools, another great place to stop and enjoy. There is also a great camping ground here if you're wanting to stop for the night. Lots of coastal bush walks are another attraction including the Wederhom Regional Park.
Matakana, Warkworth and Wellsford
Stop for lunch at Leigh Saw Mill (check opening times), visit Morris & James Pottery & Cafe, check out and sample Puhoi Cheeses. Enjoy a platter and wines at Mahurangi Estate or Matakana Estate who have excellent wine tasting facilities as well. There is All Taste, a retail & culinary shop with lots of yummy samples and NZ food. There is a marine reserve near Warkworth, Goat Island where you can snorkel and check out the fish life. It is easily accessible from the beach, great for kids and you can hire snorkel gear in Warkworth. There is also Sheepworld in the Dome Valley (SH1 near Warkworth) where you can se a working farm with lots of farm animals. Visit during the show times of 11am & 2pm for the sheep and dog shows.
Kaiwaka to Waipu via Mangawhai Heads
Take the longer coastal road out to the coast for some fantastic scenery, native bush and coastal views. Turn off SH1 at Kaiwaka and then rejoin it at Waipu. Mangawhai Heads and Mangawhai Village are linked by a picturesque causeway surrounded by native wetlands and bush. Both have thriving shopping centres with licensed cafes, restaurants, liquor outlets, art galleries and specialty shops. Mangawhai's sand dunes are a dominant feature of the harbour area, they are home to the rare fairy and Caspian tern, variable oystercatcher and the New Zealand dotterel.
Head out to Ocean Beach at Whangarei Heads, a fabulous white sand beach relatively safe for swimming and surfing. It’s a beautiful drive through lots of secluded bays and harbour hideaways. On the way there climb the towering rocks of Mt Mania for a 360 degree view of the coast and country, including off shore islands- Great Barrier, The Poor Knights and The Hen & Chicks.
On the Tutukaka Coast just north of Whangarei you can do scuba diving, kayaking, sailing, deep-sea fishing and there are also some beautiful bays to explore. The Poor Knights Islands are definitely the place for diving - rated in the top 10 dive spots worldwide by Jacques Cousteau. The dive boats leave from the Tutukaka Marina and you can also dive the wreck of NZHMS Waikato and Tui from here.
A small rural town made famous for it’s public toilets. Make sure you check these out and don’t forget your camera!