Tutukaka and Oceans Resort Hotel

Continuing on my Northland road-trip, when I headed for Tutukaka it took me longer than the books says.  The reported half an hour north-east of Whangarei maybe so,  but I was stopping to see waterfalls and great sea views!

Tutukaka is the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands marine reserve. The Islands, 25km off shore, have been rated by the famous Jacques Cousteau as one of the top-ten dive sites in the world – the water is known for its clarity and an abundance of sea life. Sea currents and visibility up to 30 metres underwater allow the diver, (or kayakers and snorkelers) to see a highly populated, rich and diverse tapestry of marine life. The world’s largest sea cave can be found here, a record claim lodged with the Guinness Book of Records. It is an amazing 7,900,000 cubic feet with over a hectare of sea surface area inside the cave itself. (More of these islands and photos in my next blog)

Right on the edge of the Tutukaka Marina is Oceans Resort Hotel and is where I stayed overnight.  I was told that “with a myriad of water-based activities on your doorstep, fabulous beaches and a lush subtropical climate you will feel as though you have escaped to paradise” and I agree. It’s a peaceful setting and I loved wandering around the water front both in the evening and then again in the morning.

Interestingly, I find Oceans is owned by the local iwi (Maori tribe) Ngati Wai who have recently won two well-deserved prestigious awards. (2011 Customer Choice Awards; 2011 Best Emerging Business)

There is a relaxed kiwi-feel to the resort and it is a popular wedding and conference destination – it also has apartment’s long-term rental too. It seems the local pub that was on the site burned down in 2000 and five years later Oceans opened. As well as having a comfortable night and  good service, I also had a great breakfast which was included in the room rate.

Here are some notes I made while there:

  • Compendium says – they have alarm clocks but say they ‘strongly support the use of island time here in Tutukaka.’ (always good advice when vacationing)
  • Lots of local artists work on view and for sale – wonderful that they give space for locals free and with no commission on sales (Well done!)
  • BBQ beside pool for guests use
  • Interesting New Zealand facts in compendium incl. NZ women getting the vote in 1893; Sir Ed and Mt Everest; a kiwi invented the bungee; and that NZ has 6,000 kilometres of coastline with nowhere being more than 120ks from the coast. (translation for my USA readers – 3728 miles of coast and no one lives more than 74 miles from it)

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For more ideas of things to do in Tutukaka keep reading my blogs and of course check out Destination Northland and for a rental car see NZ Rental Cars.

And, to find out about the birds and other creatures in the area see these fabulous New Zealand books: Collins Travellers Guide, Birds of New Zealand 


photo of oyster catcher birds

Tutukaka is special: so is the food at Schnappa Rock

I had the special of the day, Hapuka with Moroccan-style baby potato, beans and a capsicum jus: and within hours I was tweeting I’d just had the best hapuka I’d had in years!  Where was I? Schnappa Rock Restaurant & Bar  at Tutukaka half an hour north-east of Whangarei, Northland, New Zealand and the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands marine reserve: from my table I can see the Perfect Day  boat I’ll be taking in the morning for my trip to the islands.

Around me, as in most marine resorts, are a mix of people.  A group of young backpacker-type travellers have just left on a bus, while other independent travellers are enjoying drinks at the outside tables. Opposite me are two couples, the women  well dressed with perfectly coiffured hairstyles – ‘the rock’ accommodates us – and overheard  conversations let me know the fish I’m eating is not the only great thing on the menu!

A dessert of orange and almond cake, with raspberry coulis and yoghurt, completes my meal: perfect.

Nick Keene and Esther Eves have had this restaurant for some five years and pride themselves in serving fresh, local and sustainable food. The fish is line caught, local and fresh.

They describe the setting as “sub-tropical escapism” – being surrounded by punga (NZ’s native tree-fern) and lush hibiscus certainly helps  as we escape our daily lives and sink into a relaxed, coastal, holiday, vacation, mood.

I wander back to my accommodation (Oceans Resort Hotel) on the first day of my destination, two weeks in Northland, knowing I’ve already escaped my daily routine and I’m looking forward my time up here – it’s been a long, long time since I was in this special part of New Zealand.


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Northland provides a fabulous day and trip… a perfect day!

When I look in the mirror I forget I’m a red-head – after all, the face looking back at me has short white hair on top of it: so yet again I’m burnt by New Zealand’s harsh sun Sad smile

Nevertheless, its been a great day out to the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve .. you could almost call it a Perfect day, and in fact, that’s exactly what they do call it – A Perfect Day (@poorknights)

Today my blog is mainly photos as I’m off to bed ready for an early start out on three boat trips ( the last one an overnight trip on a floating YHA youth hostel, so no blog tomorrow night)– I just have to remember that even though my sun protection is factor 70  it doesn’t last all day in the fiery  New Zealand sun.

Now, lets see if I can make a  better job of the photos this time (a  new – little – computer and picture programme = issues for me!)

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(No, I can’t change the photo setup!)

Many thanks to Destination Northland for helping with my itinerary and Rental Cars New Zealandfor the vehicle for this road trip: I can recommend both!

Northland, New Zealand–my road-trip begins

Many thanks to Destination Northland for helping with my itinerary and Rental Cars New Zealand for the vehicle for this road trip: I can recommend both


Well, day one of my travels started with light rain in Wellington and my voice. I left them both behind in the capital!

Auckland was muggy and it wasn’t long before I picked up the rental car, and my kiwi-speaking Tom-tom (gps) under in orders as where we were off to (Whangarei) we headed off. Although I’d planned on two hours from Auckland to Clapham’s National Clock Museum It was a good half hour to get to the Harbour Bridge and my road trip felt as though it was really beginning.

I was amazed how interesting the museum and its 1400 clocks are and there will be a blog about it on my return: so all you clock and curio lovers bookmark this page and come back to read it and see the photos.

A quick stop at the Whangarei Falls and it was not long before I was at Tutukaka and the award-winning Oceans Resort Hotel – a fabulous place with great views over the marina – I can see why it’s a popular wedding venue and destination! (@oceansresort)

For dinner I had the best hapuku I have eaten since I don’t know when ( accompanied by Moroccan –style baby potatoes, with fresh beans and bacon and the most divine red pepper sauce. I could have almost picked the plate up and licked it! So, in Tutukaka, head for Schnappa Rock Restaurant & Bar (@schapparock) where I’m sure anything on the menu will be just as delicious.

So ended day one and it’s morning now and after a great sleep, and waking to a beautiful sky I find on talking to myself my voice has not yet caught up with me – it’s still hanging out in Wellington – in fact I think it’s retreated even further under the duvet, refusing to come out!

A few photos to whet your appetite for a trip to NZ’s famous Northland.

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