Introducing Tutukaka Coast & the Poor Knights Islands
If Goat Island Marine Reserve whetted your appetite, diving at the Poor Knights is the feast followed by a wafer-thin mint that might cause your stomach to explode. Apart from the natural underwater scenery, two decommissioned navy ships have been sunk nearby for divers to explore.
Following the road northeast of Whangarei for 26km, you’ll first come to the sweet village of Ngunguru near the mouth of a broad river. Tutukaka is 1km further on, its marina bustling with yachts, dive crews and game-fishing boats.
From Tutukaka the road heads slightly inland, popping out 10km later at the golden sands of Matapouri. A blissful 20-minute coastal walk leads from here to Whale Bay, fringed with giant pohutukawa trees.
Continuing north from Matapouri, the wide expanse of Sandy Bay, one of Northland’s premier surf beaches, comes into view. Long-boarding competitions are held here in summer. The road then loops back to join SH1 at Hikurangi. A branch leading off from this road doubles back north to the coast at Whananaki, where there are more glorious beaches and the Otamure Bay DOC campsite.