Northland Forests and Walks
Northland has more than 100 walks, tracks, loops and routes which take in a variety of forest, coastal and country scenery. They cater for a wide range of fitness levels and ages and can vary in length from 30 minutes to 3 days.
Some companies offer guided walks which will give you an insight into the unique spirit and history. Please remember to protect the environment and yourself by sticking to the track and ensuring you “leave only footprints and take only photographs”.
Top 20 amazing walks in Northland
For more walking tracks visit DOC
Waipoua and the neighbouring forests of Mataraua and Waima, were proclaimed a forest sanctuary in 1952 and now make up the largest remaining tract of native forest left in Northland. Most of Northland’s ancient forest cover has been lost to saw and fire, plundered for the precious timber of the kauri tree or cleared for farmland. The forests are now under the protection of the Department of Conservation and milling is prohibited, except under extraordinary circumstances such as for the carving of a Maori canoe.
The Waipoua Forest on Northland’s West Coast offers leisurely bush walks where you can see some of the world’s largest remaining Kauri trees. Tane Mahuta, "Lord of the Forest", who at 51.5 metres is the tallest of these ancient trees, resides only a short stroll from the car park. The 'Father of the Forest', Te Matua Ngahere, was a sapling at the time of bronze-age man some 2500 to 3000 years ago and is just a 10 minute stroll from the car park with the Four Sisters and Phantom Tree close by. In the shadow of these giants lives our national icon, the kiwi. Guided night-time walks are a chance to encounter kiwi in their natural habitat.
Important notice - Kauri dieback has been found at Waipoua forest and is fatal to Kauri trees with no known cure.
Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands offers many walks and treks with breathtaking views. Puketi Forest and its 15,000 hectares contain magnificent stands of kauri and a rich ecological diversity. The Department of Conservation provides forest huts, cabins, camping facilities and walks in the forest.
Opua - Paihia Coastal Walkway
The Paihia to Opua Coastal Walkway starts from the Paihia Wharf and follows the coastline over beaches and bays across a mangrove boardwalk to Opua. This 6km, 3 hour walk offers beautiful views of the bay, sandy beaches, sea birds and a passing vista of sea craft. The walkway can be joined at the Haumi Bridge, Te Haumi mangrove board walk, English Bay or via Harrison Scenic Reserve Walk. You may like to take a picnic lunch and enjoy a swim on the way. You can organise return transport by taxi or tuk tuk.
Waitangi National Trust Mangrove Walk
The Waitangi National Trust Mangrove Walk follows the bush clad banks of Waitangi River through mangrove and native forest to the magnificent Haruru Falls. This 6km track is easy but can get muddy!
Motuarohia (Roberton) 'Island Track'
Once out on the water from Paihia or Russell, the first island you see is Motuarohia, distinguished by its two glorious lagoons and one of the most photographed scenes in the Bay. The Motuarohia (Roberton) 'Island Track' is accessed only by water but once you reach the summit you are treated to spectacular views of the surrounding Bay of Islands.
Urupukapuka Island ‘Archaeological Walk
This walk offers stunning scenery, pristine beaches, unique archaeological landscapes with significant historic and cultural importance. Access is only by water so make sure you take some time out to relax as Urupukapuka Island is also a great place for water sports.
Harrison Scenic Reserve Walk
Appreciate some of the best coastal forest views in the Bay of Islands on this 1.4km walk, accessible via the coastal walkway at Cherry Bay or from Broadview Road, Opua.
Opua Forest Lookout Track
Enjoy a pleasant 1.5km walk through regenerating forest to a lookout over Opua, Russell, Waitangi and out to Ninepin Island. Access to the track is via School Road, 700 metres from the Paihia township.
Flagstaff Hill, Russell
The walking track to the historic reserve at Flagstaff Hill begins near the boat ramp on the Strand in Russell. It follows the beach around to Watering Bay, then climbs through native forest to reach Titore Way. Three hundred metres along this road a sign marks the final leg through shrubland to the summit of Flagstaff Hill, one of New Zealand’s iconic landmarks. See the plaque at the base of the flagstaff to discover the history!
In the Kerikeri Basin there is a network of walking tracks ranging in length from 10 minutes to 1.5 hours. A 30 minute walk leads downstream from the Stone Store to Kororipo Pa. From the Kerikeri Basin carpark a riverside walk leads upstream for 1.5 hours to Rainbow Falls. The falls are also accessible from Rainbow Falls Road off Waipapa Road.
The A H Reed Kauri Park in Whangarei is the remnant of an original Kauri Forest and offers an amazing ‘canopy walkway’. It also contains a waterfall, walking tracks and a spectacular tree-top boardwalk passing by 500 year old kauri trees.
Whangarei Heads has some of the most spectacular scenery of the region and almost 1000 steps will get you to the top of Mt Manaia. You may be a bit puffed at the top but it is worth it every step.
Feel on top of the world when you climb ‘Toka Toka Peak’, near Dargaville, which offers stunning 360 degree views of Dargaville and of the Kaipara.
Whangarei City Walks
Te Araroa Walking Trail is a walking and tramping trail that stretches from Cape Reinga in the North of New Zealand to Bluff in the South. Opened in 2011, Te Araroa is one of the world's longest trails. Hundreds of volunteers have helped create the continuous 3000 kilometre-long scenic trail which goes across farmland, down coastlines, through forests, over volcanoes and mountain passes, along river valleys and through cities.
A walkway from Matapouri takes you to the largest kauri tree remaining on the east coast of Northland, Tane Moana. Measuring over 11 metres in circumference, he stands head and shoulders above the ridge line and has a boardwalk built around him to protect his roots and base.
Tutukaka Coast Tracks and Walks
If you’re after stunning views that go on forever, the Mangawhai Cliff Top walk will take you along the beach and up a high quality track with outstanding views of Bream Head and all the way down to the Hauraki Gulf including the Mokohinau Islands and both Great and Little Barrier. One of the more interesting features is a natural formation called “the giant staircase”, a natural amphitheatre just below the track carved from the hillside. Allow 2 – 3 hours for the round trip.
Magical Mangawhai Walkways
Mangawhai Cliff Top Walkway
Enjoy a walking trail along the coast from Waipu Cove that takes in magnificent coastal views, a small rocky beach, interesting Limestone rocks and native coastal bush. Allow a minimum of an hour and a half.
Waipu Coastal Trail
A very steep climb to the top of The ‘Dukes Nose’ Track rewards you with spectacular views of Whangaroa Harbour and beyond.
Whangaroa Walking Tracks
Wairere Boulders, described as ‘One of a kind on the planet’ is the only valley worldwide which is formed by basalt boulders sitting on a clay base. The length of the rock amassments on the valley floor is 1.5 km. There are thousands of boulders stacked on top of each other, some around 30 m high. They look like a stream of rocks and boulders flowing down towards the Hokianga Harbour.
Hokianga’s best kept secret is the Koutu Boulders which offer a different rock experience! Scattered up the beach you need to watch the tide to find them, but they make a great photo opportunity. Off SH12, 5kms east of Opononi follow Koutu Loop Road, park at the junction about 100 metres along Waione Road.