Whangarei Heads is 30 minutes from Whangarei, New Zealand’s most Northern City. It is not on the road to anywhere else, so most people don’t know about it. But it is one of my favourite spots in New Zealand, and most summers I try to spend some time there.
The drive alone is worth the visit – as it hugs the harbour and its myriad of Pohutukawa lined Bays. This summer we set out to explore the Reotahi Marine Reserve – underwater, and kayaking.
Reotahi Marine Reserve
At one end of McCleods Bay, a road goes off to the left past The Deck Cafe (definately worth a stop on the way or on the way home!), and snakes around the foot of Mt Aubrey to Reotahi. There is a parking area, and a short walk takes you to a selection of spots to explore. In fact there is a walkway around the coast from which many tracks snake down to the waters edge.
Our first trip we do by road, parking our car and walking to the main beach. We climb into our snorkelling gear and swim over to the island offshore. The fish are more plentiful around the rocks, but there is always a chance of seeing stingrays on the sandy bottom off shore. Today unfortunately the water is not clear enough after the recent storm
Our second trip we do by kayak – launching at Taurikura, we paddle around the corner past some more spectacular coastline and and off shore island, and around the Little Munro Bay.
Just past this the marine reserve begins, and this time we pull up onto a minute beach with bright red pohutukawa flowers.
It is perfect – I don’t think it is possible to be bored in an Northland summer when such places as this exist. More snorkelling, more fish and a gentle paddle back.
My Other Top TO DO Picks for Whangarei Heads
- Amazing walkways and tramps over Bream Head Scenic Reserve – from 20 minutes to Smugglers Cove to a 7 hour hike along the ridge.
- Mt Manaia and Mt Aubrey walkways – climb to the top of these iconic mountains
- Snorkeling and marine life at the Marine Reserve at Motukaroro/Passage Island at Reotahi.
- Ocean Beach – for surfing and walking
- Urquarts Bay at high tide for some great swimming, and low tide for the dog to run!
- It is only 1.25 hours to Tutukaka and A Perfect Day snorkelling at the Poor Knights Islands
- Fantastic kayaking, boating and fishing