Kai Iwi Lakes. © unikatdesign

Loved by the locals: the Kauri Coast

View the map


1. Kiwi spotting

Despite predation by introduced pests, including pet dogs, Northland kiwi are fighting back. For a pretty good chance of seeing one in the wild, join a guided night walk run by the Kauri Coast Top 10 Holiday Park, near Kaihū. You’ll spend two hours in the Trounson Kauri Park ‘after hours’, learning about the park’s inhabitants – brown kiwi, kauri snails, glow worms, wētā and eels – and hopefully catching a glimpse of New Zealand’s national bird.

2. Picnic at Pahī

There isn’t that much at Pahī, to be honest – but that’s part of its charm. At the end of the long peninsula sticking out into the Kaipara Harbour, the little settlement was once a kauri town but now there’s just a small campground, a wharf and plenty of sea to go fishing on. Once a year it comes alive for the annual Pahī Regatta, celebrated since the 1880s on Auckland Anniversary Weekend, including the famous bathtub race and Miss Pahī contest, then it’s back to more blissful peace and quiet.

3. Camping at Kai Iwi

If you like your recreation a bit more active, head for the Kai Iwi Lakes, north of Dargaville. Bring your tent and boat and go kayaking, water-skiing, fishing and cruising on the three lakes, after making your base in one of the two back-to-basics campgrounds. The shallow edges of the lakes get nice and warm for splashing around in, and there’s plenty of trees for shade. It’s a real Kiwi camping experience, and something quite different from holidaying by the sea.

4. Kaihū Tavern

Blink and you might miss the Kaihū Tavern, on the road from Dargaville to Waipōua, but it’s well worth a stop. The historic roadside hotel is a real hub for the locals but they don’t bat an eyelid when a pair of Aucklanders rock in with two noisy children at drinks o’clock on a Friday (trust me). The walls of the pub are decorated with pictures from when the district was a centre for kauri milling, with a railway running to the Northern Wairoa to carry out the giant logs, which make for fascinating viewing while waiting for your generous pub meal to be cooked.

Evening ride on the Enfield

A post shared by Duncan Rogers (@rogers.duncan) on Feb 24, 2017 at 8:35pm PST

5. Get aboard the kūmara train

Kauri country is also kūmara country, and if you’re wanting a comprehensive introduction to all this oft-overlooked tuber has to offer, check out Warren and Mavis Suckling’s The Kūmara Box, on the Pōutu Peninsula southwest of Dargaville. Warren is better known as ‘Ernie, the kūmara king’, and he gives the gen and leads the tour of the farm while Mavis provides the kūmara-based morning or afternoon tea. You even get a ride around the farm on the tractor-drawn ‘kūmara train’. Only in Northland!

Explore more...

1 comment

12 August 2017 | By revnchev

OMG you have forgotten the most popular place - Pouto Point! The history there is amazing and the hundreds of hectares of sand dunes, and the light house with all it's own history. The camp ground itself is a historical building. You can't mention the Kauri coast without Pouto!

You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Please log in or register if you don't have an account.

Northland Region while you're here

Find out more

Get outdoors

Tāne Mahuta: lord of the forest

Northland's famous kauri, Tāne Mahuta may be up to 2500 years old which is really getting on, even in tree years. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Get outdoors

Kauri Coast: home again

It is a magical experience to drive the winding highway through Waipōua Forest, past giant trees which encroach onto the asphalt in places. You don’t want to be in a hurry here. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Get outdoors

Waipōua Forest

There are just glimpses left of what New Zealand would have looked like before the coming of the axe and the crosscut-saw. But you can get a sense of it in the Waipōua Forest. Read the story . . . 

AA Members save on selected accommodation with
AA Traveller

AA Members
Book now
Non Members
Book now