Ruakaka and Marsden Cove lie to the south of Whangarei, part of the inner Whangarei Harbour and Bream Bay, and are one and a half hours drive from Auckland. Traditionally a holiday destination, the population swells greatly in the summer months. New developments and the close proximity to Auckland is seeing significant growth in these areas.

Local's Tips

KAIMOANA. Do what the locals do and dig your fingers and toes into the sand for shellfish - pipis or tuatuas. Stand overnight in a bucket of seawater so that any sand is discharged and then steam, barbeque or fritter – they’re delicious!

KAYAK A WONDERLAND. Bring your own or hire a kayak and head up the Ruakaka river. Sheltered water, low cliffs, birds, including small shag colonies and the twisted forms of mature mangrove trees make for a great paddle.

RUAKAKA VILLAGE & BEACH

Ruakaka is beachside residential area with a mix of holiday and permanent homes. The area has a small shopping centre and the wider area supports a number of cafes and restaurants. Ruakaka Beach is a 13 kilometre expanse of white sand and waves popular for a range of water activities including surfing and kite surfing.

SURF LIFESAVING

The surf lifesaving club patrols the beach for the extended summer period as well as hosting beach education days and surf life saving competitions throughout the year.

MARSDEN COVE

Marsden Cove is world class 230 berth marina with all tide and weather access to and from the ocean via a deep water harbour, along with a marine service precinct, public boat ramps and fuel berths. The Marina village has a cafe, local stores and the Marsden Cove Market is held on the 3rd Sunday of every month.

ONE TREE POINT

This village on the south side of Whangärei Harbour is enjoyed for its safe, sheltered swimming beaches, easy access to local fishing spots and awe-inspiring views of Mount Manaia across the channel.

URETITI BEACH

Just a few hundred metres off State Highway One, this popular beach has a Department of Conservation campground nestled in the sand dunes back from the beach. Naturalists use the beach area to the south of the camp.

SPECTACULAR PHOTO OPPPORTUNITIES

The spectacular Whangarei Heads skyline dominates the view to the north-east – capture a dramatic and stunning photo from this area, particularly at sunrise.

JUST FOR BIRDWATCHERS...

Lesser knots, Australasian gannets, white-fronted tern, a variety of shorebirds and some very special migratory birds including the NZ dotterel and Eastern Bar-tailed godwits make their home at the Ruakaka Wildlife Refuge.

“AND WE’RE OFF!”

Ruakaka Racing ‘Where the Turf meets the Surf” is a unique all weather racecourse barely a furlong inland from the surf. Race days are held more than a dozen times a year and in summer, the Club hosts some fun family events. Watch the horses train on the beach in the early-morning.

CATCH A BROWN TROUT

The Wilson Dam, just off the main highway, offers great fly fishing or spinning for anglers. Boats aren’t allowed but the dam offers excellent shore-based winter fishing and is stocked annually.

MARSDEN POINT OIL REFINERY

New Zealand’s only oil refinery began operating at Marsden Point in 1964. The Visitor Centre features a working scale model of the refinery, complete with a sound and light show.

DEEPWATER PORT

New Zealand’s northern most deepwater port is situated at Marsden Point at the entrance to the Whangarei harbour. While it's not assessible to the public, you can do a drive-by.