We want to take a drive

We want to take a drive

Of course one of the most versatile ways to experience the Bay of Islands is by car; the drive itself is much of the pleasure as you move through different scenery, from coastal to mountainous landscapes.

An easy local circuit is to travel south from Paihia and head to Kawakawa to visit the Hundertwasser Toilets and probably stop for brunch at the Trainspotter Café or perhaps the Railway Station. From here, drive through Moerewa and up the winding hill towards Pakaraka. Turn right here, and head to Kerikeri for lunch and a walk around the Stone Store. To make it a more circular route, leave Kerikeri via the bypass to Waipapa, stopping off to see the Rainbow Falls on your way. Then head down SH10, stopping on your way at any of the vineyards that also have restaurants – Ake Ake or Marsden Estate. To get back to the central Bay of Islands, turn left at Puketona Road and that will take you back into Paihia via Waitangi from the north.

an image

If you wanted to go a bit further afield, head north from the Bay of Islands, along Puketona Road and then right on to SH10. Follow this route through Waipapa and dip in to the right when you see signs for Matauri Bay Road – this is a beautiful little coastal route that eventually takes you to Whangaroa. On your return, stay on the main state highway and drive through the quaint town of Kaeo and back to the Bay of Islands via SH10.

For a slightly longer drive, keep heading north from Whangaroa toward Doubtless Bay; Mangonui is a lovely township to browse through and it so happens to have a legendary fish and chip shop.

an image Catherine Langford

For another full day trip, the Hokianga is unmissable. This route takes you through a changing landscape and shows you the heart of Northland, from coast to coast. Coming from Paihia, head north out of town along the Puketona (or Black Bridge) Road. At the end of the road, turn right and immediately left. Follow Old Bay Road until the end of the road and turn right. This will take you through Kaikohe and then on to Omapere and Opononi. You can take the Rawene Road to Rawene and cross to Kohukohu and then travel back to the Bay through the Mangamukas. Or you can head south to Waipoua Forest to see Tane Mahuta, New Zealand’s biggest kauri tree.