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Short break in Whangarei: Gardens, parks and natural places

Whangarei with its subtropical climate, heritage buildings and links to Aotearoa New Zealand’s origins is a great place for a weekend break. While this weekend break is focused on the glorious gardens of Whangarei there are plenty of options from brisk walks to soak up the spectacular coastal views or perhaps time spent exploring the markets and shops of Whangarei. The best time to go is year round. Escape the chill of the South Island to a place where frosty mornings is a foreign concept. You might need an umbrella and a light jacket however there is always a Whangarei cafe to keep you warm.

Trip Overview

Duration: 3 days
Start Auckland
Finish Auckland

Best time to visit Whangarei

Year round.

  • Spring is perfect for camellia scented blooms
  • Summer for cool walks in the shaded native bush
  • Autumn for outdoor exploration
  • Winter for museums and indoor activities

Weather in Whangarei

Whangārei Weather Forecast and Observations

Day 1

Friday: Arrival mid-afternoon

Whangarei The Hub boardwalk sculpture installation, New Zealand
Whangarei The Hub boardwalk sculpture installation

Let’s get your bearings with a stroll on the Hatea walkway and dinner at the marina precinct. If you have time pop into Reyburn House Northland Art Centre to acquaint yourself with the emerging and established artists in the area. Enjoy the ambience of the heritage building. Reyburn house is the oldest existing settler home on Whangarei’s Hatea River. 1867. Whangarei Visitor Centre is located in The Hub, part of the town basin precinct and is worth a visit to update yourself with relevant details about opening and closing hours and walking track conditions.

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Stops & extensions

No.8 Whangarei Restaurant & Bar


No.8 Whangarei, a five minute walk from Reyburn House is your dining experience for the evening. With its harbourside views of the marina and relaxed atmosphere you can relax into the weekend and unwind from the busy week day.

The head chef is constantly updating the modern asian influenced meals to ensure there is something to tantalize every palate, including vegans, who can look forward to a new special each week.

No.8 encourages diners to combine their choices with plate sharing recommended. To tempt your taste buds take a glimpse at the menu No 8 Menus.

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@Lupton Lodge
@Lupton Lodge

Premium Lodge

Lupton Lodge is a great place to stay for garden buffs with its historic dry stone walled rural grounds.

There is a private dining room, lounge, swimming pool, orchard and garden to wander through.

The lodge is approximately 10 minutes drive from Whangarei town centre.

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Day 2

Saturday Morning

Hatea River, Whangarei Falls, New Zealand
Hatea River, Whangarei Falls

An active start to the day with a visit to the iconic Whangarei Falls. The memorising sheets of water and the misting spray make for a great photo location to capture your weekend moment.

Then it’s off to a former quarry to observe what sheer hard toil can create a magical garden. The day finishes with a dinner where New Zealand contemporary fusion style matches the day’s experiences.

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Stops & extensions
Saturday Afternoon

Whangarei Botanica Gardens

Whangarei Quarry ferms and palms walkway, New Zealand
Whangarei Quarry ferms and palms walkway

Whangarei Botanica Gardens are a lush green contrast to the Quarry Gardens with ferns and a Japanese Gardens on show. The horticultural complex includes a heated conservatory for tropical plants, a cactus house, an extensive fernery, a small Japanese style garden and a shade garden area. The origins of Botanica began in 1970 with the construction of the Snow Conservatory, the complex even has its own waterfall. The Conservatory is home to the Marge Maddren Fernery. The Fernery is renowned for one of New Zealand’s largest collections of native ferns found in New Zealand and its offshore islands. It has three shade houses and a linking tunnel, ponds and a small waterfall and courtyard area.

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Saturday late afternoon

Free time To explore Whangarei

Cafler Park, New Zealand @Gardens to visit
Cafler Park @Gardens to visit

For garden buffs adjacent to Botanica is Cafler Park. Cafler Park is one of the best known parks in the central city. The park can be accessed by foot from Water Street, from the city end of First Avenue or from the Forum North carpark. Within the park are the city’s rose gardens, a number of sculptures, manicured laws and colourful flower gardens.

The Waiarohia River runs along its western boundary. A classic garden reminiscent of planting styles denoting the use of public spaces.

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Split Bar & Restaurant: Whangarei - Serving Fresh Seafood

@Split Bar
@Split Bar

Split Bar & Restaurant Casual chic dining experience with outdoor seating great for a sub-tropical climate and a fusion menu reflecting the contemporary style of great New Zealand cuisine.

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Day 3

Sunday morning AH Reed Memorial Park

AH Reed canopy walk, Whangarei public reserves, Whangarei, New Zealand.
AH Reed canopy walk, Whangarei

An exploration of the native bush together with a canopy walk through a Kauri stand brings New Zealand flora and fauna as a counterpoint to the cultivated gardens viewed yesterday. AH Reed Memorial Park is a remnant of the original Northland kauri forest. Visitors are privileged with views of kauri from the canopy walk where the giants of the forest are protected from kauri dieback disease and feet trafficking on their root system. The canopy walk is over the Waikoromiko stream, is 14 metres above ground and over 70 metres long. The park is a local favourite with dogs on a leash, people enjoying the cool bush in the heat of summer. There are plaques throughout the park describing the flora and fauna.

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Sunday afternoon

Return home

Waterfalls in the bush, river and stones, Whangarei waterfalls, New Zealand
Whangarei waterfalls

Return home and plan your next trip to Whangarei perhaps when there is a garden festival in the offering or a change in season with the promise of Whangarei Quarry fragrant camellias in full bloom to walk among.

Then there are trips to the Tutukaka Coast and Lake Waro to consider as well.

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