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  • Pip Davidson and Roselle O'Brien

Discover Whangarei, Northland

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

#backyourbackyard #Iloveithere #Whangarei

Welcome to our series on activities to do in our own backyard. We’re kicking this series off with Northland.

Northland is a region full of natural beauty and seemingly endless summer. The main town, Whangarei, allows easy access to the Tutukaka Coast, Whangarei Heads, Bream Bay, Ruakaka and Waipu. There is so much to experience up in this region, today we’re sharing just a handful of activities and ways to play.

Whangarei is a small attractive city in the heart of Whangarei Harbour is situated just over 2 hours’ drive north of Auckland. Why not start with some morning exercise and enjoy a family walk via an off-road track up to the summit of Mount Parihaka. Suitable for kids of all ages it’s a popular destination due to its panoramic views over Whangarei and the harbour. Sneak in a quick history lesson (and extra-long break if needed) at the viewing platform by viewing the memorial commemorating those lost in the two world wars. If a hill seems a little too much for you there is also Parihaka Scenic Reserve which has a playground for children (although it has been advised this is more suited to older children). Discover Whangarei!

A favourite for my two nephews when visiting Whangarei is the Quarry Gardens. There is something for everyone to enjoy here from birds, to waterfalls, forest walks, gardens and even tunnels and other historical remnants. Whangarei Quarry Gardens is a true-blue community project, relying almost entirely on volunteers to keep the Gardens thriving. The main entry to the Gardens is via the Visitors Centre, and by donation. Begin your walk here, where you can grab a map and refreshments from one of Whangarei's best - Quail Café. At Playz we are committed to giving back to our communities, please consider a donation to the Quarry Garden Trust. Discover Gardens!


If you’re feeling a bit competitive why not head to Extreme Mini Golf in Whangarei? It’s Northland’s only indoor mini golf range and features an 18 Hole Course across 6 amazing themes. It is housed completely under black light, and that means one very important thing... IT GLOWS! Suitable for all ages and all Abilities. Discover Mini Golf!

Is Whangarei your everyday backyard or are you in need something a bit longer? Why not check out a school holiday program? Extreme Kids offers something for every child from PC Games and Board Games for classic mind stimulating fun to Active Excursions for physical and mental health. Extreme Mini Golf for a bit of healthy competition and socialisation. Education on Internet Safety & the basics of Esports to get the brain flowing and more. Extreme Kids provide a safe, fun and educational environment for all tamariki. Teamwork and Internet Safety are just two of their main focuses - the children who attend don't realise how much they've learnt because it is that much fun! If eligible, families can access assistance through OSCAR/MSD funding. Discover Extreme Kids!


Back 2 Basics holiday programme at Heads up Adventures will have children experiencing nature and the outdoors. Running Monday, Wednesday and Friday during both weeks of the holidays children will experience bush craft, hut making, survival skills just to name a few. For some family fun there is something for everyone -go for a blast on the Monster Scooters, battle it out with Paint-Ball or tackle one of the 14 Mountain Bike Trails. Discover Heads up Adventures!



Even in Winter you can experience the beauty of Tutukaka by paddleboard with Jo, Scotty and their team at Sup Bro. Choose from a range of Stand Up Paddle board lessons from Beginner to Advanced, Flatwater and Surfing. Sup Bro cater for all ages and abilities and above all emphasise safe paddling. Discover Tutukaka from a whole different perspective and support a small family business with big dreams. Discover Paddleboarding!


Further north you can discover The Farm, a 1000 acre working dairy farm on the Whangaruru Harbour, just a short drive from Russel & The Bay of Islands. With accommodation available at The Farm you can take a couple of days to enjoy some of what they have to offer from Yoga for the adults to Pony Rides, Beginner riding lessons, floundering, eeling, kayaking and more. A perfect place to relax and take some time out. Discover The Farm!

Just 13km up the road you can treat the family with an easy dinner on the beach from Skips Fish and Chips. Discover Skips!



At the end of your trip if you are driving South and you feel like some animal love stop off at SHEEPWORLD in Warkworth. Everyone loves the Sheepworld Show, and the NZ Farmyard is great for all the family to interact with a host of friendly animals. The Eco-Trail is a fun family adventure and has excellent picnic spots. For very young family members the Mini-Farm will probably be their favourite, with rabbits and baby animals to cuddle. If you feel like feeding the eels gather at the pond at 1.15 pm daily for an information talk on these slippery native creatures and then have a go at hand-feeding them yourself. Eel feeding is subject to weather and other seasonal factors. But don’t worry, if it's not possible to feed the eels, the emu are waiting eagerly on standby. Discover Sheepworld!


We look forward to discovering more of Northland. Please share your favourites places in New Zealand to be featured by Playz.

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