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Botanica Fernery and Conservatory, cruise to Poor Knights Islands, Matapouri Bay, Salt Air Café, the longest foot bridge in the Southern Hemisphere and a Kauri Forest.
In this tour we focus on The Tutukaka Coast - whenever we stay at the clifftop Pacific Rendezvous Motel (overlooking Tutukaka Harbour), we are asked if we can stay longer. So let’s enjoy three nights of ‘Clifftop Bliss’ with plenty of local exploring during the day.
We begin the day with a morning tea stop in Warkworth. Next we arrive at Botanica Fernery and Conservatory which has the largest collection of NZ native ferns and we understand we also get the meet the resident Eels! We then take a wander around the Whangarei Town Basin before making our way out to our clifftop home for the next three nights, Pacific Rendezvous Motel. All our Dinners are at Tutukaka Marina, tonight’s is at Schnappa Rock Restaurant.
Today is all about our ‘Perfect Day’ cruise to Poor Knights Islands. We board our vessel, late morning, and cruise 23km to the islands on a fully licenced, stable multi deck cruise boat. Hear all about the tragic local Maori history, see the breathtaking scenery - sea arches, sea caves (the boat goes right inside the world’s largest sea cave!) and sheltered harbours. We will view the breeding grounds for rare seabirds including Ternlets and Buller’s Shearwaters and there is a good chance our cruise will be accompanied by dolphins, seals and maybe even whales or orca! This is also the home of the colourful Poor Knight’s Lily. We enjoy a delicious buffet lunch with hot beverages available freely throughout the day. We also have the opportunity to kayak, SUP (stand up paddleboard) or swim (masks and snorkels provided) off the boat, right in the middle of a Marine Reserve. If you don’t choose to do any of that, the boat is perfect to relax, inside or out, simply enjoying this unique experience till we return to Tutukaka Marina late afternoon. Tonight it’s only fitting that we dine at Deep Sea Anglers Club.
Let’s see more of the Tutukaka Coast, beginning with nearby Matapouri Bay. Spend some time at this spectacular white sand beach, with its restful estuary, which is a popular spot for holiday homes. We couldn’t come this way without having lunch at the popular Salt Air Café in Ngunguru. This afternoon we drive north on SH1 to Whananaki North with the opportunity to walk across the longest foot bridge in the Southern Hemisphere. This 395m footbridge was built in 1947 so the children of Whananaki South could walk (instead of rowing) to school in Whananaki North. The perfect place for us to enjoy an ice cream from the local camp ground store. We reboard the coach and travel down the coast past Sandy Bay, Woolleys Bay (with views over Whale Bay), passing Matapouri Bay before arriving back at Tutukaka late afternoon. Dinner tonight is at Waihi Restaurant.
Homeward bound but there’s one more must see – A remnant of a Northland Kauri Forest right in Whangarei. Maturing 500 year old Kauri trees can be easily viewed close up from a raised walkway through the forest canopy. The Wai Koromiko Stream runs through the middle of the park and the Paranui Falls, at over 23m high, are well worth a visit. There are three walks of varying lengths 15mins, 30mins and 60mins all including the canopy walkway. Now we’re hungry! For years we have driven through Kaiwaka and never stopped at Eutopia Café so today we are in for a treat. A café that is more like an art form, with delicious food as a bonus! We make a comfort stop at Warkworth before returning home.