Key Points:

Where

: Dargaville and the Kauri Coast are about 190km, or a 2 1/2 drive northwest of Auckland. It's an easily accessible region, taking in Kauri forests, long stretches of coast and beautiful lakes - making it the perfect place to head for as the weather warms up.

What to do

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: One of the most beautiful spots in the region is Kai Iwi Lakes 34km north of Dargaville. These beautiful blue lakes are edged by white sand beaches and are great for fishing, swimming or even windsurfing.

There's a basic DoC camping ground here which does get pretty full in the summer season so book in advance.

Near the lakes there's also an easy, well-signposted 30-minute walk across farmland to the coast. Alternatively take the one-hour hike along Ripiro Beach to Maunganui Bluff.

If that seems like a little bit too much exertion you can always drive. Ripiro Beach is the country's longest driveable beach, stretching 100km from Kaipara Harbour in the south to the bluff in the north.

If you do drive the beach, keep an eye out around Kaipara's North Head and the Valley of the Wrecks. Here the country's oldest wooden lighthouse stands as a reminder of the more than 100 ships lost along this treacherous stretch of coast.

One of the most pleasant spots to stay along this coastline is Baylys Beach, home to another popular campsite. It's another great spot to take the kids, or hit the waves on a surfboard - or try one of the horse treks across the neighbouring farmland.

One of the most famous inhabitants of this part of the country is our largest kauri tree, Tane Mahuta, which stands in the Waipoua Forest a few kilometres north of Kai Iwi. Other pathways lead you to Te Matua Ngahere (Father of the Forest), which at 5m, has the widest girth of any kauri. Stop at the Kauri Museum 45km south of Dargaville, which offers an insight into the lives of Northland's pioneer gum diggers and loggers.

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