|Duration:||3 days, 2 nights|
|Best time to visit:||Year round
|Weather:||Whangārei Weather Forecast and Observations|
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.
HATEA LOOP walkway
The walk embraces the town’s beginnings and meanders past the stunning river marina with the masts of yachts a evocative link to the river’s role as a transport link to the ocean. Visitors pass restaurants, cafes and shops. Along the walkway, observe the Sculpture Trail and murals by local artists. Historic points of interest are flagged with plaques narrating the history of specific sites. You will pass a picturesque Victoria building the Reyburn Northland Society of Arts Gallery. Make sure to check opening hours and allow enough time to browse the current exhibitions.
Walk across the elegant footbridge, ‘Kotuitui Whitinga’ and the international award-winning ‘Te Matau ä Pohe’ bascule (opening) bridge.
Wheelchair access Town Basin car parks off Lower Dent street or the Bascule Carpark off Port Road. Dogs must be on a leash at all times but take a short detour to the Public Dog Park on Dave Culham Drive.
A jewel in the town basin is the pretty Victorian colonial home, now the home of the Northland Society of Arts. The building is constructed from lapped Kauri weatherboards and internal walls framed using rough pit sawn Kauri scrim board. The classic tongue and groove Kauri floors, with their honey glow, have the patea of age. The original house had four bedrooms with additions being made in 1894 to extend the house. The veranda was added in the late 1890’s. Originally the verandah was painted in red and white stripes as per the fashion of the day.
The sculpture on the front lawn represents Lotte, James Reyburn’s youngest daughter, the first born in Reyburn (1874). The artist, Kpa Pothan, is chiseled from laminated sandstone sourced from Paradise Quarry in Portland. The commission was completed in 1990 and weighs three tonnes, plus another three tones for the base on which she sits.
Today Reyburn House Art Gallery has a monthly rotation of new exhibits. The Gallery has six exhibition areas. Four large rooms and two smaller areas. The permanent collection consists of 250+ works of well-known Northland or Northland-connected artists from Kitty Arini-Vane to Lois White, Yvonne Rust, Len Satherly, Thomas Drummond and others. The Northland Society of Arts maintains artist studios on the property, and conducts workshops. time. There is a fabulous gift marketing one of a kind art piece curated especially for the shop. For more information about the gallery click her Permanent Collection | Northland Society of Arts.
Home | No.8 Whangarei | Restaurant & Bar, 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.
Lupton Lodge – No.1 Luxury Boutique Accommodation in Whangarei 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.
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.
Whangarei Falls experience, you have the choice of simply relaxing against the sides of the upper viewing platforms to view the falls or take up the offer of a brisk morning walk. There is something fast and furious about the unrelenting sheets of water falling from a height of 26 metres. The surrounding bush is constantly misted with the force of water as it hits the base pools. The lush green bush ferns and moss rocks are a contrast to the drier bush flora and fauna surrounding the falls.
The loop walk is approximately 30 minutes around the falls, through nikau palms, totara, manuka, cabbage trees and ponga. In the early morning you could hear the throated call of the native wood pigeon, the throated song of a tui and the grey warbler. For more information about track conditions and the area click here Otuihau Whangarei Falls.
Next is a highlight with a trip to the Whangarei Quarry Garden and Quail Cafe for lunch. Explore over 60 acres of cultivated gardens located within a former quarry. Magical and the icing on the cake, a well known cafe / restaurant for a leisurely lunch. Bookings are recommended for the Quail Cafe.
The site was a functioning quarry from 1940 to 1974. Concrete foundations are still visible and industrial remnants form part of the garden story as industrial repurposed decorative objects. The corroded steel fittings frame lush subtropical bromeliads. To turn a quarry into a spectacular garden is a feat of imagination and hard toil. The Gardens are set over 60 acres and feature a lake, waterfalls, picnic areas, forest walks, a variety of garden styles.
The Quarry Gardens describe the styles as …
Five Senses Garden
Built in 2003 with sponsorship from Whangarei Garden Discovery Inc, this garden stimulates our senses with a striking combination of plants and sculpture. A stroll through these raised beds invites us to Taste*, Smell, Look, Listen and Touch our way into the world of subtropical gardening.
A favourite spot for many volunteers, the Bromeliad Garden is a classic example of growing the right plant in the right place. Bromeliads generally like this semi-shaded, free-draining slope; as do shade-seeking visitors on a hot summer’s day.
Fragrant Camellia Collection
One of the jewels in the Gardens crown, the Fragrant Camellia Collection is built around the Camellia cultivars produced by two local plant breeders: Jim Finlay and Os Blumhardt. In 2001-2002, Jim Finlay donated 115 of his fragrant Camellias to the Gardens, 49 of which are not found in any other public garden in the world.
Our Arid Garden is located in one of the sunniest and driest parts of the Gardens, and is therefore ideally suited to the cultivation of cacti and succulents. Ground level temperatures frequently rise over 40 degrees C in summer, with the highest temperature recorded at 50 degrees C.
For those whose fitness levels find 60 acres daunting you have the opportunity to book a Golf Cart Tours. Book a one hour guided tour of the Gardens in an electric golf cart. Up to 5 guests can be accommodated in the golf cart for the 1 hour tour of the gardens. It is a perfect solution for visitors less able to manage the paths. Enjoy a tour of the entire Gardens, in comfort and with a guide taking you through the interesting history of the site. Forward bookings are essential for the guided tours. For more information about the Quarry Gardens click here, Whangarei Quarry Gardens.
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.
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.
Split Bar & Restaurant, Whangarei – Serving Fresh Seafood, NZ Beef & Lamb, 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.
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.
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.