Situated an 80 minute drive north of Auckland, Tawharanui Regional Park enjoys a spectacular setting on a peninsula extending out into the Pacific Ocean. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful landscape tucked away from the beaten tourist path and offers perfect white sandy beaches, shingled bays, coastal forest, eco trails and rare endemic wildlife. There are many activities to enjoy, including swimming, surfing and walking for those keen to explore, or picnicking for those who like to just sit and observe! Auckland’s beaches are treasured paradises: leave with amazing memories, and leave behind only footprints!
Driving to the park is pretty simple; the road from State Highway 1 runs in an easterly direction from the town of Warkworth. It ends up as a gravel track and leads to a spacious car park. Various bus tours are available from surrounding areas but can be a little bit expensive and will only allow a limited amount of time to explore the park. Prices for day tours including Tawharanui Regional Park start at around $155 per person. There’s a self-service guest house called Tawharanui Bach close to the park entrance with three bedrooms, a bathroom, a lounge and kitchen diner. It sleeps up to six and is available at $145 a night during summer months and $96 a night during the winter. The park offers two camp sites, east and west, which can get busy during peak season. It’s advisable to call and book a pitch with the Auckland Regional Council first. Both sites charge the same: $13 a night for adults and $6 a night for children up to 17 years old.
For those on a budget but wanting to incorporate a night or two at Tawharanui into their itinerary, camping is a fun and affordable option.
The camp sites at Tawharanui are furnished with plenty of potable water supplies and toilet blocks with wheelchair facilities, so you still get all the standard camping essentials included in the price. The park is a great value spot for a break considering the range of activities and the stunning walks and wildlife. Camping is the best way to get close to New Zealand even if it does require a bit of planning and some extra equipment. Planning ahead is always the best way to get a good deal; apart from accommodation and getting around you’ll need to consider your travel money too. If you're visiting from abroad, you'll find the New Zealand dollar is usually pretty strong and generally performs well against most other currencies so check out online rates before you embark on your holiday. This will help you settle on a daily budget for your trip. Don’t get caught out and have to buy more dollars at the airport or travel agents as their rates are normally not very competitive and you won’t get a good deal. More spending money abroad means more chances to enjoy all that New Zealand’s great parks have to offer!
This charming location has been described as the “Ultimate North Island Experience” due to its extensive range of havens to explore. The eco trails are easy to follow via a trail guide from the hut at Anchor Bay. There are longer and shorter trails depending on your appetite for walking. Terrain is easily manageable for all ages and the trails wind through native forest with dappled shade, grassland dotted with rippling streams, through protected bird breeding areas and to the coastline alongside gently lapping waves. One longer trail takes you up to the highest point of the peninsula where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf and Little Barrier Islands.
Anchor Bay is the most popular swimming spot; the calm, clear waters make it safe and perfect for snorkeling. The bays at Tawharanui Regional Park are a protected marine park so you can enjoy all the wildlife but always from a safe distance - the park is there to protect and promote the marine and bird life so look but don’t touch!
When there’s a swell from the north or east there are waves in most of the bays. The surf is suitable for all abilities and great for learners. It can get crowded at the weekends and if you’re an experienced surfer watch out for kids and novices on body boards.
Kiwis, the flightless bird and symbol of New Zealand are an endangered species. By the removal of predators and pest animals such as rats and hedgehogs the endemic birds have flourished in Tawharanui Regional Park with over 40 individuals now breeding there. The piercing shriek of the Kiwi can be heard after dusk on evening strolls. The success of the diligent park rangers and conservation volunteers continues with the reintroduction of North Island Robin, Whitehead and Brown Teal.
The park has also helped increase numbers of the endemic species of Dotterel, Kereru and Tui vastly. The Dotterel or New Zealand Plover has a charming burnt orange breast and can be found along the sand or in the shallows in each of the bays. There is a protected breeding area which is fenced from the public during spring and summer as the hatching babies nests are just holes in the sand. The chicks can walk from day one though and fly within around 6 weeks.
The range of colourful endangered wildlife, quiet camp life and activities for all the family make Tawharanui a must see location for those who want to experience the unique features of the North Auckland coastline.
Annie Clarkson, is a writer and researcher. As a part time history of art student she takes great pleasure in travelling and experiencing the diverse art and culture in the world.
A day trip to the Tawharanui peninsula is a great outing that has something to offer for the whole family...
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