Northland road trip: along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway

In February most of my great road trip in Northland was on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway

It leads you from Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, to the far north, and is the ideal road adventure – I used a rental car and started from Auckland airport and valued the support and information I got from Destination Northland.

The Twin Coast Discovery Highway  traces both coasts to Cape Reinga and back. The east coast has fabulous white sand beaches, while the west coast has fewer people, wilder beaches and our giant kauri trees. All of which I’m writing about in individual blog (so sign up for them – top right on this page J) as I retrace my steps, but thought an overview would be useful too. Whatever you do,

you have a camera – you will fill it up just as I did – especially with postcard views of white or golden sand.

There are any  kinds of water experiences too – from dolphin trips, sightseeing tours diving, snorkelling or fishing – or as I did, parasailing over the Bay of Islands on New Zealand’s highest parasail.

Northland is often called ‘the birthplace of the nation’ as our founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was first signed here between the Maori tribes and the British in 1840 ad make sure you visit ‘the duke’ , in Russell,  which has New Zealand’s first licence as a bar – and is still hosting people in its rooms and dining areas.

On the other coast are 85% of New Zealand’s kauri trees – most in the magnificent Waipoua Forest and which also has Tane Mahuta, New Zealand’s largest kauri, then down to Dargaville on the Wairoa river and where all out kumara (sweet potato) come from then  onto  Matakohe,an engaging museum explains the life and times of the kauri tree.

This is the briefest of a thumbnail sketch  .. , with lots more to come:  One of the things I was surprised about ‘up north’ was how much there is to do – I did heaps but there were many more places that I didn’t see and many things I didn’t get to do!

Feel free to add your suggestions (in the comments) about ‘must dos’ you have found in New Zealand’s Northland.

Author: Heather - the kiwi travel writer

Nomadic travel-writer, photographer, author & blogger. See more on and Amazon for my books (heather hapeta)

4 thoughts on “Northland road trip: along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway”

  1. As you say the Waipoua Forest is the home to the ancient and mighty kauri with the tallest and oldest trees in the whole world but in addition, the kauri coast offers so much more from waterfalls, bush walks, horse trekking, wild west coast beaches, crystal clear lakes and more. Northland truly is a land of contrast and so much to offer … after the Bay of Islands a trip down the Twin Coast Discovery West/Kauri Coast is an absolute must do !


  2. Thank you for your article. Aside from being close to the Waipoua Forest, the Hokianga is a peaceful haven from the tourist meccas of the east coast and a place to stay and experience the activities, cafes and art trails.


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