There are few places in the world that can match what Northland has to offer, especially outdoor enthusiasts will find their paradise, with countless opportunities for a healthy and active lifestyle.
The landscape combines a diversity of different environments: breathtaking surf beaches and rocky bays, steep volcanoes and hill ranges, ancient rainforest bush as well as 'exotic' pine forests, rolling farmland for grazing - even New Zealand's highest sand dunes!
The 80 million year long separation from the Godwana continent led to the evolution of unique plants and animals, from flightless Kiwi birds to endangered parrots, from Cabbage trees to Nikau palms and tree ferns. Native Northland trees are green all year round and the climate makes it a gardener's paradise.
There are countless reserves and parks with well maintained walking tracks, allowing access to a land of unspoilt natural beauty.
If you like water based or outdoors activities then you're coming to the right place:
- The Poor Knights Islands offer the best subtropical diving in the world and beautiful snorkelling.
- Plenty of surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing or paddleboarding, and boogieboarding is safe fun for everyone else.
- Many fishing records have been broken along the Northland coast, catch Snapper from the jetties or go big game fishing for Marlin.
- Learn to sail or captain a power boat - you don't need a licence.
- Explore the harbours and bays in a kayak, the coastline is ideal for exploration.
- Learn to row with a fast Polynesian style Waka Ama (outrigger canoe).
- Swim with Dolphins in the Bay of Islands.
For other sports there are outstanding facilities, in Whangarei District alone there are 19 sports parks.
- The rugby stadium in Whangarei was built for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and has hosted other international games since.
- Cobham Oval is an international venue for Cricket, complete with indoor Cricket centre.
- Kensington Park provides two hockey stadiums, netball centre, athletics facilities, fitness centre, table tennis hall, cricket fields and free tennis courts during summer.
- The Aquatic Centre at the Whangarei Town Basin is not only great for swimmers but also offers a wave pool, hot spa, sauna and fitness centre.
- The BMX track was designed by the same consultant who designed the Beijing Olympics track and has already hosted the BMX Nationals.
- There are dozens of special mountain biking trails for every skill level.
- Northland is a Golf paradise for beginners with over 25 courses from Pitch n' Putt level to the world famous Kauri Cliffs, there are 8 golf courses within 30mins drive from Whangarei town.
- Besides many other endurance events, the Run Walk Series caters from casual walkers to marathon runners with a line of events from all over Northland.
- Race enthusiasts have access to drifting speedways, kart tracks, motocross trail rides and even the World Rally Championship is a regular guest.
There are also clubs and facilities for Soccer, Badminton, Gymnastics, Squash, Tennis, Martial Arts, Rowing, Basketball, Cheerleading, Ten Pin Bowling, Bowls, Ultimate Frisbee, Target Shooting, Motocross, Climbing, Fencing, Orienteering, Road Cycling, Volleyball and many more.
Many newcomers move to New Zealand to raise their children in a healthy, natural and safe environment. It's a great place to grow up!
Whangarei alone has 36 children's playgrounds, there are scouts and girl guides, skateboard parks, child and teen library departments, traditional Maori dance classes, horse riding lessons, glowworm caves for young explorers, youth theatres, sailing for teens, surf schools, abseiling, surf life saving clubs and courses, toy libraries, indoor playgrounds, interschool sports tournaments, calf clubs, disc golf courses, petting zoos, heritage park live days, wave raves at the Aquatic Centre - you name it!
Whangarei has branches of most national chain stores and a big number of specialist retail shops and service providers.
Fresh produce can be bought in farmers markets, the Whangarei Growers Market is the oldest grower's market in Australasia, with up to 6,500 visitors each weekend! Fresh, high quality local produce, much of it organic, all locally grown and often sold personally by the growers. Whatever the weather fruit, vegetable, plant and flower growers plus honey, egg, bread, organic beef and oyster producers set up their stalls early every Saturday morning.
Cafes and restaurants
There is a thriving and ever growing restaurant and cafe scene offering creative Kiwi cuisine and seafood or exotic dishes from around the world. Northland baristas have won numerous awards as well, so you’ll never be short of an excellent latte.
Some consider Whangarei’s Town Basin the jewel in the crown with art galleries, cafes and shops that attract tourists and locals, great for a stroll on a weekend or dinner in the evening.
Events and nightlife
While Whangarei is more renowned for its natural life than its nightlife, there is a lively bar scene, with a number of websites dedicated to events and live music venues.
The artist community also continues to add creative events and venues throughout the year while the Council sponsors free concerts, festivals and open air cinema.
Exciting events are spread throughout the year, for example Maori festivals, agricultural field days, rodeos, boat fairs, fun walks, rally championships, Scottish highland games, open air cinema, flower shows, horse and dog races and shows, music festivals, fishing tournaments etc.