The benefit of being at the very top of New Zealand is, among other things, it's pretty easy to follow the road and before you know it, you've gone from one coastline to the next.
Northland's Twin Coast Discovery can take you all the way from Auckland, deep into the Hokianga, around the Bay of Islands and back again, discovering an area rich in history, culture and natural beauty.
Say goodbye to Auckland and hello to Opononi, exploring antique and craft stores in Maungaturoto and Paparoa, or the Matakohe Kauri Museum along the way. Speaking of mighty kauri, make sure you take time to catch a glimpse of Tāne Mahuta in the Waipoua Forest, before continuing to the wild but remarkable Hokianga Harbour. If you are feeling brave, swap the car for a sandboard and have a zoom down the impressive dunes.
From there, carry on up SH12, making your way through the fishing village of Rawene, before boarding the car ferry to Kohukohu across the water.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
On dry land, take Kaitaia-Awaroa Rd and Twin Coast Discovery Highway north towards Kaitaia. You'll pass through classic rural countryside and can take a slight side trip to the ruggedly handsome Ahipara and Shipwreck Bay - it's well worth it. From the centre of Kaitaia, you can venture further out to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach, which is about 100km north on SH1 and a true sight to behold at least once in a lifetime.
As you return south, it's now time to experience the contrasting east coast. Doubtless Bay, on SH10, is a thing of beauty, and a fabulous pitstop before arriving in Kerikeri. You'll know you're getting close to the busy town by the orchard-lined roads and roadside stalls brimming with produce - time it right, and the legendary Kerikeri oranges will be plentiful.
In the town itself, you'll be greeted by vineyards, galleries and of course, the history of the area, including the Mission Station, home to two of New Zealand's oldest buildings.
Just 20 minutes along the coast, and you'll find Paihia - and the heart of the Bay of Islands. It's an excellent base if you plan on exploring the area, which is a wonderfully rich history lesson about our country - a trip to this part of Aotearoa is not complete without a visit to the Waitangi Historic Reserve - and an aquatic playground. Swim with dolphins, or catch a ferry to the charming township of Russell, or perhaps make your way just over an hour south to the Tutukaka Coast, one of the top coastal destinations in the world, according to National Geographic Traveller.
Now though, it's time to slowly make your way back to Auckland. Relish the scenic Whangārei Heads and trail the coastal roads to soak up the ocean views, but be sure to stop by at least a couple of the beaches you come across - Waipū, Ruakaka, Mangawhai, the list goes on - before returning to real life.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com