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10 reasons to linger in Tutukaka Coast

  • 3 minutes

North Island, New Zealand

Tutukaka is a detour, a place where water sports is a given visitor activity. Surf, kayak, dive sub-tropical waters in a protected marine environment or explore marine life in rock pools. Artists gravitate to Tutukaka coast for its landscapes and its place in the story of Aotearoa NZ. The sense of community offers visitors the temptation to stop, linger and enjoy artistic working studios.

Beautiful Pohutukawa red flowers blossom on the wharf of Tutukaka Marina, New Zealand
Beautiful Pohutukawa red flowers blossom on the wharf of Tutukaka Marina
  1. Beaches

Tutukaka is beach central with choices from surf beaches where surfers have the space to reach their inner best. Family safe beaches where toilets and picnic areas create a perfect environment for summer memory moments.

The joy of building a sand castle, relaxing in the shade of trees or leisurely walking along the foreshore for shells.

  1. Kayaking

Love kayaking, the sense of immediacy between you and the water. Tutukaka offers a smorgasbord of choice from ocean kayaking, river and inner harbour kayaking are alluring.

Kayaking can start either from Tutukaka Marina, Ngunguru, Whangaumu Bay, Matapouri or the Ngunguru River. Kayak hire or lessons and guided tours are available.

Advance bookings for kayaking are recommended during summer peak season. For visitors with their own kayaks check tides and local weather conditions.

Tutukaka kayaking @Pacific Coast Kayaks NZ
Tutukaka kayaking @Pacific Coast Kayaks NZ

Remember to include pick-up/drop-off points with the chosen kayak rental operator.

  1. Workshops

Tutukaka is not just about beaches. Ditch the family and indulge your creative energy with studio visits.

There are workshops where you acquire new skills or potter around studio galleries for special one of a kind objects.

  1. Eco cruises

Eco cruises to Poor Knight Island explore Riko Riko Cave (world’s largest sea cave). This is a great option for visitors who are not interested in getting their toes wet diving. Tour operators will entertain guests with snippets of local history and facts about Poor Knights. Cruises are often accompanied by dolphins, orca and whales. Usually cruises offer guests the opportunity to swim or kayak in the vicinity of a moored vessel. A river cruise also operates on request along the historic Ngunguru River.

Ngunguru Harbour river estuary at low tide, New Zealand Ngunguru Harbour river estuary at low tide
  1. Diving

The Poor Knights marine reserve and HMS Tui/HMS Waikato wrecks are dive destinations off the Tutukaka Coast. Internationally renowned local and international visitors have numerous sites to choose. The activity hub for departing dive operations is the Tutukaka Marina. Either hire full gear or just the equipment that you need on the day. PADI Dive courses, refresher dives and underwater photography are all available. There is an enormous oxygen bottle for a photo selfie ensuring you can’t miss the Tutukaka Marina location.

Poor Knights Island sea cave diving experience, New Zealand
Poor Knights Island sea cave diving experience
View through the trees walking down to Whale Bay, Northland, New Zealand
View through the trees walking down to Whale Bay
  1. Walks

The Tutukaka Coast offers walkers and coastal scenery fans and fitness levels an extensive range of world-class short to half day walks. The panoramic scenery sweeping views cover from blue ocean views to spectacular coastal native foliage. A special moment is the pohutukawa in full bloom. Time for only one walk and the kids are scratchy. Promising an ice cream with a playground named Whale Tail park will get the family motivated. Ngunguru Mangrove Walkway, is a flat 25 minute (loop trail).

Look beneath your feet for the busy estuary life. The walk gives visitors an opportunity to view an intact protected sand spit, explore Ngunguru village and the popular children’s playground – Whale Tail Park.

  1. Whananaki

Another family fun activity is a visit to Whananaki. Check out the longest footbridge in the southern hemisphere built to get kids to school.

There are campgrounds for an impromptu picnic, a general store for supplies and a coastal walkway. The Whananaki Coastal Walkway (2 hours one way) has stunning coastal views and quiet shallow bays for a day at the beach.

Do not forget the camera.

Whananaki North footbridge 375m in length, New Zealand
Whananaki North footbridge 375m in length
Ngunguru (Tutukaka) waterfront at dusk, New Zealand
Ngunguru (Tutukaka) waterfront at dusk
  1. Fishing

Want snapper for dinner or you salivate at the thought of a battle with a marlin Tutukaka coast fishing charters, yacht charters and small boat charters are available by arrangement from Tutukaka Marina.

The Whangarei Deep Sea Anglers Club displays trophies for several world records. Rock fishing and surf casting is a popular year round activity. For a secret fishing spot just ask the local bait store for tips.

  1. Lighthouse

Lighthouse fans rejoice Tutukaka delivers a Lighthouse. A one hour return walk gives awesome views of the Tutukaka coast and Poor Knights Island. Check the tides as you cross a rocky causeway out to Kukutauwhao Island.

The track is grassed, across the headlands to a reserve protecting a remnant of native bush. The descent to the beach is steep to the rocky causeway out to Kukutauwhao Island. Climb to the top of the island where you’ll reach the Tutukaka Lighthouse.

Tutukaka Lighthouse coastal views, Northland, New Zealand
Tutukaka Lighthouse coastal views
Panoramic View of Whangarei Falls, Whangarei North Island New Zealand
Panoramic View of Whangarei Falls
  1. Whangarei

Never visited Tutukaka and spending a few days in Whangarei. Pick and choose what interests you and plan a day trip. There are shuttles for visitors without transport. Plan one type of activity either a once in a lifetime diving cruise to explore a shipwreck or a day exploring local art galleries. Stop, take the detour to Tutukaka. The best time to visit is between November to March however the winterless North makes year round a great time to chill out in Tutukaka.


Remember off season tour operators might be operating on limited hours or even closed. Planning a cruise, renting a kayak forward booking is strongly recommended to avoid disappointment.


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  • Kayaking the Ngunguru River is suitable for all levels, including families and novices. Mangrove Forest, birdlife, tidal channels and Ngunguru sandspit are a few of the highlights of the area. Launch at either Ngunguru or Scows landing, depending on the tide. Allow 1/2 a day to a full day to explore the Ngunguru River by kayak. Source Tutukaka Coast visitor information.


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