The roads that access the coast around Tutukaka and Matapouri rejoin SH1 at Hikurangi 16km north of Whangarei. About 6km further north you have a choice of routes: both go to the Bay of Islands but approach from different directions: carry straight on and you go direct to Paihia with opportunities for side trips to the Maori redoubt of Ruapekapeka Pa, and the Hundertwasser toilets at Kawakawa; turn right along Old Russell Road and you twist towards the coast on the tar-sealed but narrow and winding back road to Russell. The latter route is the most scenic way to approach the Bay of Islands, along a 70km narrow, winding road that takes about two hours. You can spin the drive out by admiring the wonderful coastline around the Whangaruru Harbour, stopping for swims in numerous gorgeous bays, and perhaps a short walk in the mixed kauri forest of the Ngaiotonga Scenic Reserve.
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