Wainui Road

There are several excellent short scenic drives in Northland, and Wainui Road between Whangaroa Harbour and Matauri Bay is one of them. It roughly follows the northeast coast for 23 km or only 26 minutes of driving, plus another 12 minutes on Matauri Bay Road to link with State Highway 10 southeast of Kaeo.

But there are several beautiful Northland beaches, some with campsites and excellent short walks. You could easily spend a whole day exploring the route or several days camping. As with most east coast Northland beaches, swimming is generally safe.

From Matauri Bay Road in the south, drive directly to Matauri Bay, with its small beach community, a lovely white sand beach, and a campground. It is also the final resting place of the Rainbow Warrior. From Matauri Bay, head northwest along Wainui Road. Several places have spectacular coastal views, with the road 200 metres above sea level. At Te Ngaere, there is easy access to another beautiful beach.

From Te Ngaere, the next stop is Mahinepua Bay after a short detour on Mahinepua Road. There is an excellent walking track on Mahinepua Peninsula and another lovely beach. Wainui Road heads inland over scenic rolling hills to Tauranga Valley. Take the northwest deviation onto Tauranga Bay Road to Tauranga Bay. At the bay, there is another stunning beach with a campground and some holiday homes.

The last section of Wainui Road from Tauranga Valley climbs from the valley over the hills to Whangaroa Harbour. Watch out for the archetypically white Anglican church with a red roof at Matangirau. Missionary James Shepherd, who arrived in NZ in 1823, built the church around the late 1830s for the Church Mission Society.

As you approach Whangaroa, you will see St Paul's Rock. You could end the day with a sunset climb up the rock!

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