Things To Do
Cool things to do while you are staying at Little Earth Lodge
Whangarei and around:
Explore the amazing Abbey Caves –Organ Cave, Middle Cave and Ivy Cave. They are just a short walk from your room and all you need is a head-torch, helmet, water shoes, and a bit of common sense. The caves are wet and in some parts the water will be up to your waist! You will see thousands of glow worms in each of the caves. You can visit the caves after you have checked-out but please be aware that when you return to LEL you will longer be able to enter the lodge use the Lodge facilities.
Take a stroll around Abbey Caves Reserve – see the incredible rock formations which are over 30 million years old: the action of water on the limestone has created the beautiful shapes. Take a look at the unique “Rock Forest” – this is a sensational and sometimes eerie collection of native trees and huge limestone boulders that have been created by natural erosion over millions of years. The walk around the reserve takes approx. 30 minutes.
Scuba Diving or Snorkeling – at the Poor Knights Islands off the Tutukaka Coast – named by Jacques Cousteau as one of the world’s top 10 dive locations. Spectacular water clarity and warm sub-tropical currents provide a rich, varied and abundant sea life. Book your dives or Perfect Day cruise with us and we will give you a discount on your room.
A.H. Reed Kauri Park- an atmospheric native forest just down the road from Little Earth Lodge. See the ancient Kauri trees just 5 minutes drive from Little Earth Lodge. These 500-year-old specimens are easily accessed off Whareora Road. You can walk to the Whangarei Falls from here – takes about 30 to 45 minutes each way, through the forest and along the picturesque Hatea River valley.
Whangarei Falls the most photogenic waterfall in New Zealand. East access and a beautiful bush surrounding make this 25m waterfall well worth a visit. The Falls are situated just 10 minutes drive for Little Earth Lodge, or walk through the atmospheric kauri forest.
Don’t miss the picturesque 35km drive leading by the beautiful bays and beaches of the Whangarei Harbour, ending with the spectacular unspoiled beauty of Ocean Beach . Climb Mount Mania located near to Whangarei Heads and see the spectacular views over Whangarei Harbour (1 hour to walk to the top and 30 minutes down). From the car park at Urquarts Bay there are two easy walking tracks that take you to the beautiful and deserted Smugglers Bay – ideal for a picnic and a swim. For the more energetic, park at the Peach Cove car park and take the Peach Cove track to the beautiful and secluded Peach Cove. On your way back, drop into Parua Bay Tavern for excellent fish n chips and great views over the water – a magical spot on a summer’s evening.
There are lots of walking tracks around Whangarei and we have a brochure that lists them all- ask in the office for more info.
Tutukaka Coast – one of the planets top 3 coastlines according to National Geographic. Enjoy fish n Chips at the seaside village of Ngunguru or Tutukaka before continuing on to some of the finest beaches in the country – Matapouri, Whale Bay, Sandy Bay. Its about a 45 minute drive.
Surfing at Sandy Bay, Ocean Beach and Pataua North beach (30 minutes’ drive from Little Earth Lodge). Walk across the footbridge to Pataua South for another great beach.
Whangarei Town Basin: offers Kayak hire, cruises, museums, galleries, shops, Saturday craft market (summer), restaurants and cafes. For fresh fruit and veggies and home-made bread, check out the Growers’ Market in Water Street – 6.30 to 10.00am every Saturday. It takes about 1 hour to walk around the Hatea Loop Walk and across the award-winning Te Matua a Pohe lifting bridge over the Hatea river: the name means Fishhook of Pohe and it was designed by British architect Martin Knight. See amazing Maori art, and information on the history and development of Whangarei, then relax at one of the cafes overlooking the marina.
Whangarei Quarry Gardens, Russell Road Whangarei: In the gardens you will find spectacular subtropical plantings in a terraced amphitheatre with a lake fed by two waterfalls. The gardens have been created entirely by volunteers is a disused quarry. Enjoy good coffee, tea and home-made cakes served on pretty patterned china at the Quail Cafe. Or get the cafe to make a hamper with sandwiches, cakes, a flask of tea and a hand-crocheted blanket, and enjoy a picnic in the gardens.
Mountain biking: there are mountain bike tracks on Mt Parihaka, just a few hundred metres from Little Earth Lodge along Abbey Caves Road. You can also walk up these tracks to the lookout at the top of Mt Parihaka for great views over Whangarei. Walking tracks then lead down the bush-clad slopes to the Hatea river and Town Basin. You can hire cycles and mountain bikes from Loop de Loop, Ryburn House Lane, Town Basin.
Adventure Forest, Maruata Road, Whangarei: Whiz through the Glenbervie Forest on zip-lines. Weekends and school holidays only.
Sky Diving with Ballistic Blondes, based at Whangarei airport.
Maori mythology in Whangarei: Manaia and Hautatu
On top of Mt Manaia stood the pa of Manaia, paramount chief of Whangarei. Opposite, on Marsden Point. lived the minor chief Hautatu, married to Pito, the most beautiful girl in the district. The jealous Mania sent Hautatu to lead a war party to the Bay of Plenty and while he was gone built a causeway right across the harbour to Marsden Point. By night Manaia led a war party over the causeway to slaughter those left in Hautatu’s pa and to carry the lovely Pito back to his mountain home. With justified rage rage Hautatu returned to successfully attack Manaia’s pa. Manaia, his two children, and Pito fled along the mountain top, chased by Hautatu who was about to strike Pito down when all five were struck by lightening and turned into stone.
So it is that today the five figures, with an eerie sense of urgency, form a timeless tableau on Mt Manaia’s summit. Below them, from Taurikura, the ”remains” of Manaia’s causeway run jetty-like out into the harbour.
Kauri Coast – Located 3 hours from Little Earth Lodge on the west coast, this beautiful area embraces lush native rainforest, including New Zealand’s tallest tree – the massive native kauri, Tane Mahuta in Waipoua Forest. You can also see spectacular ancient kauri trees in the Trounson Kauri Park a few kilometers south of Waipoua Forest.
The Bay of Islands – Visit Waitangi National Reserve, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. Take the ferry across to Russell: once the capital of New Zealand, today it is small and delightful historic town of heritage houses grouped round a pretty bay. Pahia is the centre for a variety of water-based activities including sailing adventures, boat trips and swimming with dolphins. The Bay of Islands is just over 1 hr from Whangarei by car on State Highway 1. Alternative;y, take the ‘scenic route’ via Helena Bay – head north out of Whangarei on SH1 and take the right-hand turning to Oakura. Drop in at The Gallery Cafe for delicious meals, great coffee, home-made cakes and awesome views over Helena Bay. Walk round the sculpture garden and check out the interesting Kiwiana art and craft in the gallery and shop. Fancy a day on a deserted beach? – at Helena Bay, turn right along 8km of unsealed road to the Mimiwhangata Coastal Park for sand dunes and awesome deserted beaches.
Kawakawa (approximately 50 minutes by car from Little Earth Lodge) – Head north from Whangarei along SH1, and before you get Pahia stop at Kawakawa for the Hundertwasser public toilets – the most amazingly decorated loos you’ll ever visit. Designed by the Austrian eco-architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who lived near Kawakawa, they are decorated in typical Hundertwasser style, with every surface covered in ceramic mosaics and brightly coloured bottles. Kawakawa also has a railway running down the main street and is home to the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway. Take a 45-minute trip on the steam engines Gabriel and Pukeko, Fri-Sun and daily during school holidays.
Things to do on a wet day (though the sun always shines on LEL, almost!)
Whangarei Town basin – shops, galleries and cafes and Claphams Clock Museum.
The Hub Information Centre and art gallery.
Kiwi North – Kiwi House and Heritage Park and Museum SH14 –Set in a 25 hectare heritage park including a nocturnal kiwi house. See real live kiwis! The museum features Maori and early settler collections.
Native Bird Recovery Centre just behind Kiwi North, SH14 – say ”hi” to the talking Tui
Ryburn House art gallery, Town Basin – work by local artists
Quarry Arts Centre: Rust Avenue, Whangarei – an excentric village of artists’ studios and co-operative galleries. The shop sells work by local artists and crafts people.
Shopping Centre, Okara Drive: large superstores including Briscoe’s, The Warehouse, Countdown, Noel Leeming.
Hospice Shop: a fascinating collection of second hand goods and books donated by the local community. Located in James Street.