Picnics are a great way to spend some quality time with loved ones, whether they are friends or family. Being in the outdoors can be invigorating, it creates lasting memories and tends to bring people together. Combined with Whangarei’s beautiful scenery it makes for a fabulous day out. Pack a picnic basket and a blanket and head to the beach or enjoy a bite to eat in one of the many parks within the district. We have compiled a list of the best picnic spots in Whangarei, so all you have to do is pick which one suits you best.
Set over a 60-acre big area along Western Hills Drive, the Whangarei Quarry Gardens (link to article) is a green oasis amidst the city. Featuring a lake, a picturesque waterfall and a variety of colourful native plants and succulents, the numerous walkways invite to leisurely stroll around before enjoying a picnic by the lakeshore or at one of the picnic tables supplied. There is ample parking and public toilets are available at the Visitors Centre.
It’s one of the busiest places in town, but the Whangarei Town Basin has everything you need for a family day out. Cafes, shops and a children’s playground offer the perfect opportunity to spend a pleasant morning followed by a picnic on the grass. There is a free BBQ near the playground, public toilets and public parking. Afterwards, why not take a walk around the Hatea Loop (Link to article) and explore the area.
The award-winning scenic reserve close to the centre of town offers plenty of picnic opportunities. From the car park at the bottom of Rurumoki Street, it’s a short walk to the Mair Park playground where you can find public toilets, picnic tables and a large grass area to put your blanket down on. Alternatively, take a hike down to the Hatea River and have a bite at the edge of the water while you feed the ducks. More picnic spots can be found across the bridge, following the track along the river to the left.
Laurie Hall Park
If you’ve had a busy day in town and are looking for a place to enjoy some peace and quiet, Laurie Hall Park is the perfect place. Grab a bite at one of the local shops and take a seat on the open grassy area or admire the man-made waterfall and the spectacular floral gardens planted into the hills. There are a children’s playground and Whangarei’s new war memorial. Laurie Hill Park is accessible via a flight of stairs from Bank Street or via the Farmers car park off Rathbone Street.
They are not only some of the most photographed falls in the country. Whangarei Falls are also a favourite picnic spot all year round. Make yourself comfortable on the grass near the lookouts or take a short stroll to the base of the falls and enjoy the breath-taking scenery from the picnic table. Parking and public toilets are available on Boundary Road.
Heritage Park is set on 25 hectares of volcanic farmland and native bush just off State Highway 14. It’s the home of Northland’s only nocturnal house displaying kiwi, tuatara and various gecko, as well as a number of heritage buildings from the late 1800s. Once a month, in the school holidays and on special occasions you can jump aboard an old steam train or ride the miniature trains. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the area, there are public parking areas and toilets available.
Leaving Whangarei following the signs towards Tutukaka Coast you will soon reach the little town of Ngunguru. Grab yourself some fish and chips from the local shop and enjoy a picnic on the shores of the estuary before going for a swim. There is a fenced playground with toilets on Pine Road and ample parking along Ngunguru Road.
A long stretch of golden, white sand, blue water and a tranquil scenery is what you will find at Matapouri Bay. The beach further along the Tutukaka Coast is one of the most popular ones with locals in the summer. There is a picnic table near the car park as well as a free BBQ and public toilets. If you forgot your picnic basket you can grab some fish and chips from the dairy on the corner to the street leading to the beach.
If you enjoy picnics by the seaside, the beach at Tamaterau will be just the spot for you. Following the scenic route along Whangarei Heads Road, Tamaterau is only a short drive from Whangarei. There is a car park with public toilets on the right as well as a stretch of grass where you can put down your blanket while admiring the fabulous views across the harbour. The beach offers sheltered swimming and is popular for windsurfing and fishing.
Following the road further along the coast towards Ocean Beach, you will eventually reach Urquharts Bay. The road to the car park is signposted and from there it’s only a short 15-minute walk across the hills to Smugglers Bay, one of the most beautiful white sandy beaches in the country. Known for its stunning crystal-clear waters, take a swim and enjoy a picnic in the shade of the trees. Public toilets are available in the car park.
One the way to Auckland, Waipu Cove is the perfect spot to take a break and rest up. The long sandy beach is one of the most popular along this stretch of coastline. The beach is patrolled in summer by lifeguards and children love to explore nearby rock pools. The nearby dairy and beachside café offer a range of foods, snacks and refreshments and dolphins have been spotted in the area quite regularly. There are parking areas and public toilets near the beach.