It’s New Zealand’s northernmost city and, if you head here from more southern parts, somewhere along the way you really do feel the temperature rise. And that’s how you know you’ve made it to New Zealand’s subtropical Northland, the region at the top of the country.
Soaking up sunshine
There are several Māori traditions that offer possibilities for the genesis of Whangārei’s name. But, there’s one that, after a blue sky day around this city’s harbour, sums up the day perfectly. Whanga means the bay, or harbour; it also means the place of waiting. On glorious days, as Northland can frequently be spoiled with, there is no doubt waterside in its town basin is where you can relax, wait to be filled up with sunshine, and enjoy some of the best of this city. According to this tradition, rei refers to a princess left and married there. And on this beautiful Northland day, Whangārei’s basin was fit for a princess indeed.
This spot is part of the urban heart where the Hātea River empties into the harbour. There is loads of waterside seating to enjoy water views and sunshine, while you relax with a coffee, or a meal from a local cafe. And, if you’re in your sneakers, it’s also the perfect place to set out on the Hātea Walkway following the river to take in some of the city’s attractions… Mair Park donated to the people of the city in the early 1900s by a local plant enthusiast, and Mount Parihaka, a volcanic cone which offers magnificent views of the city and harbour when you make it to the top. It is no surprise to find out it was a former pā site, and a very significant mountain to Māori in Northland.
And option two… very near that town basin there’s a wonderful baker and cheesemaker, a perfect spot for picnic provisions for a cycle or drive out towards Whangarei Heads. You’ll also be very happy with a find of a local food collective on travels towards the Heads… a special little spot with its own breads, salads, and local food offerings. And coffee, with locally roasted beans, of course.
And you’re never far from fertile green fields
In other directions, it is only a short drive outside of the urban centre to find the farmers’ green fields and orchardists’ hedgerows. And it’s these fields and orchards that provide the amazing produce for the aptly named Whangārei Growers Market. This is a bustling and early (and we really mean early) Saturday morning market, attendance at which is clearly a ritual for a huge variety of the city’s residents. If you make it there one Saturday morning, it’s the perfect place to come and stock up on a fabulous selection of fruit and veges, the bounty of the local volcanic lands.
And for more…
For more on where to find some of Northland’s food treasures, explore our North Island Food Travel Guide app - click here. You’ll find delightful coffee stops and eateries, artisan producers, farmers markets, specialty grocers, and a whole lot more…