Explore the Twin Coast Discovery Highway

Twin Coast Discovery Highway

The Twin Coast Discovery Highway is located between Auckland and the Far North on both sides of the coast. The Highlights of this route are the many beautiful beaches that you may wander along by yourself (especially during the colder months). There are many options for walks, fishing in the sea, surfing, diving and spotting dolphins.

Opo in Opononi
Opo in Opononi

Along the West Coast on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway

Head up the Twin Coast Discovery Highway, on the wild West Coast along the Tasman Sea. This allows you to easier pull into the resting areas on your left (possible lookout points along the shore). On this stretch of coast you can find gigantic Kauri trees in Waipoua Forest, the home of Tane Mahuta (known as the oldest Kauri tree, about 2000 years old!). The next stop on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway is Opononi, located on the mouth of the Hokianga Harbour. From Rawene you take a ferry to the sleepy township of Kohukohu. Continue via Herekino to reach the shipwreck-coast in Ahipara Bay, from where the Ninety Mile Beach begins.

Kohukohu Wharf
Kohukohu Wharf

Drive to the top at Cape Reinga

From Kaitaia, at the upper end of the Twin Coast Discovery Highway, it is recommended to add the side trip to Cape Reinga. On your way up north you can find giant dunes and visit mystical places like Spirit Bay.

Cape Reinga Lighthouse
Cape Reinga Lighthouse

What you can see on the East Coast of the Twin Coast Discovery Highway

If you have enough time, take the side trip to the picturesque Matai Bay on Karikari Peninsula. Whangaroa Harbour consists of fascinating geology with bizarre rock formations. Another side trip along a Scenic Drive to Matauri Bay offers great views over the coastline and Cavalli Islands. In Waitangi you can find Maori culture and history, while Kerikeri showcases the spectacular Rainbow Falls. In Paihia you can get everything that a tourist loves. If you like it more laid back, take the ferry to historic Russell and find stories of the past. In Kawakawa you may have your most memorable stop at the colourful toilets, made by the Austrian artist Hundertwasser.

Elliot Bay
Elliot Bay

In Whananaki you may wander along the longest food bridge in the southern hemisphere and in Matapouri you may take a bath in the Mermaid Pools during low tide. The famous Poor Knights Islands are located off the Tutukaka Coast. This marine reserve is known as the best dive site in New Zealand.

Whangarei Yacht Harbour
Whangarei Yacht Harbour

Whangarei offers a diverse variety of options for everyone’s taste. The pretty Whangarei Falls should not to be missed. The recently upgraded yacht harbour walk hosts interesting art objects and designer bridges along the waterways to explore. The long stretch of beach at Waipu Cove is located south of Whangarei. Take the side trip to Mangawhai Heads that offers a more scenic route than Highway 1 (SH1) and some walking options before you return to SH1 on your way to Auckland.

Waipu Cove
Waipu Cove

A map of the Twin Coast Discovery Highway

The Twin Coast Discovery Highway is an option for all seasons. If you would drive via Mangawhei Heads the route becomes 804 km long, with a driving time of 12 hours and 29 minutes (according to Google maps). Here a map showing a slightly shorter version in a vice versa direction:

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Twin Coast Discovery Highway
Twin Coast Discovery Highway

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