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Kiwi towns

NZ, Northland kiwi towns places to go for selfie & scenic lookouts

  • 3 minutes

Waipoua, New Zealand

Abandoned shipyards, evocative cemeteries and heritage roses

Discover quintessential New Zealand spirit in the small towns of Northland. Find great places for a photo opportunity. Enjoy exploring heritage places where the only people are your family, friends or yourself.

The small kiwi towns below are part of our KIWI TOWNS series. Often the towns are on one of our road trips, what to do nearby

  • Walks to a scenic lookout
  • A sandy beach to relax
  • Heritage mission stations
  • Northland top sights Waitangi, Kerikeri and beyond

Twin Coast Discovery Road Trip Northland & Bay of Islands

Check out the Northland road trip “Twin Coast Discovery Road Trip Northland & Bay of Islands - Best Bits” take a detour, wander down side roads. The journey is worth it.

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Kaikohe abandoned farm house
Mangonui art gallery, former courthouse, Northland, NZ


Whangarei, Russell, Pahia, Waitangi, Kerikeri are well known for their foodie destinations. It is the smaller towns where you might miss out on a culinary experience.


The fish n chips are melting good, the chemistry of lightly battered, slightly oily, a dust of salt and pepper is a marriage made in takeaway heaven. Mangonui offers the authentic food experience with a fish n chip shop selling the kiwi taste sensation direct from their own boats.

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Mangonui world famous in New Zealand fish n chips
Mangonui fishing charter view of harbour and fish n chip shop commercial wharf, New Zealand
Mangonui heritage streetscape, Northland


Quirky Rawene, departure point for Hokianga ferry and home of The Boat Shed Cafe. Allow several hours to amble around Rawene, popping into the local cafe / art gallery, the puzzle shop and simply walking around the town absorbing the sense of community.

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Clendon House, Jane Clendon and husband sculpture, Rawene, Hokianga, New Zealand
Rawene Boat Shed Cafe, Northland, NZ
Clendon House, Rawene, New Zealand


Objects, statues and odd stuff from abandoned buildings, to statues of dolphins in Ompare or magnificent Maori carvings in Waitangi or the Footsteps of Kupe immersive cultural centre entrance stunning carved poles (pou whenua). And we have found roses for the romantic moments … read more.


Waipu has the claim to fame as Aotearoa New Zealand’s gallic connection. To commemorate the Waipu Museum a life size sturdy Gallic male is a great place for a selfie with a hunky looking individual in a swirling tartan costume. TIP: Love the sword

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Waipu Anglician Church, New Zealand
On the way past Waipu, going North to Cape Reinga
Murals on the Waipu toilets, Northland, New Zealand


Humongous dive bottle outside Dive Tutukaka. It’s enough to get you going on a marine cruise to the Poor Knights Islands.

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Tutukaka is the base for boat tours for diving and snorkelling around the Poor Knights Islands, Tutukaka Marina, New Zealand
Tutukaka Dive experiences, New Zealand
Tutukaka lookout past Ngunguru settlement, New Zealand


Kumara, an enormous vegetable sculpture at the edge of town, it’s fun, slightly tatty and definitely a great reason to snaffle a bag or two of yummy kumara chips.

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Dargaville, New Zealand
@Dargaville Historic Central Hotel


Backdrop of Opo the dolphin statute or yourself flying on a board down sand dunes into the harbour. For the adventurous spirits a selfie moment is you using your newly acquired jetski skills to good effect in the Hokianga Harbour, thanks to Awesome Adventures.

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Opononi & Omapere, New Zealand @Twin Coast Cycle trail
Hokianga Harbour jetty remains, mangroves and silence


A reflective moment and a great photo opportunity is the monument to the Rainbow Warrior is on the ridge overlooking Matauri Bay Holiday Park is the Rainbow Warrior Memorial (built by Chris Booth) with a large stone compass indicating where beneath the ocean the Rainbow Warrior Boat wreck is submerged.

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@Matauri Bay Holiday Park


ROMANCE is found in Matakohe. SPRING ROSES in Matakohe are scented roses with the soft blush of pastels and bright red and yellow. There is free entry to the 120 heritage roses, recognised by New Zealand Heritage Rose Society with an award of Nationally Significant Planting of Historic Roses.

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Matakohe holiday park, New Zealand @Matakohe holiday park
Matakohe - Limestone Island @MatakoheLimestoneIsland


Public toilets, perhaps the most famous in New Zealand and a definite instagram star. Kawakawa Hundertwasser toilets, opened in 1991 are the coolest toilets in the Pacific.

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Recycled bottles Hundertwasser toilets Kawakawa
Kawakawa train station toilets minus Hundertwasser touch, New Zealand
Exterior view of public toilets Kawakawa, New Zealand



Prosaic to mention are the numerous glorious white sandy beaches with sweeping native trees adding depth to the landscape, shade and kiwiana to your photo shot. Check outFrying pan lookout between Ngunguru and Tutukaka, on top of the Tutukaka Hill on the main road, complete with a map describing landmarks. This is a must-do for scenic memories.

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Tutukaka Coastal Views, Northland NZ, New Zealand
Tutukaka Lighthouse coastal views, Northland, New Zealand
Tutukaka lookout past Ngunguru settlement, New Zealand


Trounson Kauri Park for a glimpse of forest giants with a great short walk introducing to the iconic ancient trees of New Zealand.

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@Dargaville Museum New Zealand
Dargaville, New Zealand
@Dargaville Historic Central Hotel


Sunset photos are a staple of the holiday snaps and Ahipara does not disappoint with New Zealand’s well known beach Ninety Mile beach offering sunset or sunrise scenery. TIP: Check out the local golf course for spectacular sweeping ocean views.

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Shipwreck Bay looking towards Ahipara, New Zealand


Nikau Grove (Whaka Street) hidden gem is glorious fern glory in Maungaturoto. It is a gem of lush emerald green colour. For waterfall devotees Piroa Waterfalls deserves to be ticked off the bucket list. It is one of the few waterfalls where swimmers can wade / swim directly under the waterfall. The drawback is no toilets on the DOC managed site.

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Maungaturoto Country Club @MaungaturotoCountryClub
Maungaturoto Country Club @MaungaturotoCountryClub


Picturesque, evocative and forgotten, great photo moment.
TIP: Sit on the grassy banks of the hillside local cemetery to view some of the oldest headstones in New Zealand. The old Wesleyan mission cemetery has two crew members of the ship “Roselyn Castle” drowned in the Harbour on 30/05/1829. Sailors often could not swim and drowning occurred when alcohol affects judgment.

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Horeke @Horeke Hotel


A romantic quiet place with a disturbing past. Wholesale slaughter of whales (19th century) is forever captured in the name of the bay. Today idyllic, yet yesterday riven in the blood of whales. Today Whale Bay is a white sandy curved beach framed with trees and native bush. The beach is a favourite spot for swimming, snorkeling, picnics and romantic dates.

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Whale Bay views, Raglan, New Zealand
Whale Bay, Raglan District, New Zealand
View through the trees walking down to Whale Bay, Northland, New Zealand


Matakohe, home of the world-class KAURI MUSEUM is a great place for photo opportunities of the massive kauri tree, either polished and silent at the entrance to the museum or the Kauri Bushmen’s memorial scenic reserve.
A boardwalk loop through a surviving kauri grove gives visitors a sense of what the forest was before the wholesale logging cleared the land. The 15 minute walk is suitable for all age groups. The reserve is a memorial to the kauri loggers of the nineteenth century.
TIP: ROMANCE & heritage roses and quaint 19th century kauri timber framed churches. The stunning display of heritage roses draws visitors every spring to the area

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Waipoua Kauri Forest Tree, New Zealand
The Kauri Museum, Matakohe, Northland, New Zealand
Matakohe - Limestone Island @MatakoheLimestoneIsland


TIP: The enormous abandoned boat building site was originally one of the largest boat building operations in the North. Now with its gaping boards, rotting walls and partially collapsed roof it is a testimony to the ravages of time. You can easily view the boat slipway and interior without entering the site which is hazardous due to the deterioration of the building. “Lane & Brown Shipyard and Sawmill, Totara North (1872).

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Te Mama Museum wall art, Totara North, New Zealand
Te Mama Museum wall art aspect, Totara North, New Zealand


HELENA BAY is on the Twin Coast Discovery road trip.

Sculptures in a garden + great cafe food are the makings of some photo opportunities.

Helena Bay is the home of Helena Bay Gallery and Artworks. This is a must do stop for art collectors, gallery browsing as well as the spectacular views from the cafe. The extensive garden is packed with outdoor sculpture installations … wander through. And it is a great brunch stop.



Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


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