Despite its prime gateway location to Whangarei Heads’ sweeping beaches and world-class diving around the Poor Knights Islands, Northland’s capital, WHANGAREI (pronounced Fahn-ga-ray), has never had the wherewithal to slow down tourists on their mad dash to the Bay of Islands. But things are changing. The newly developed Town Basin, a shopping and restaurant complex, provides a focal point for visitors and overlooks sleek yachts dotted along the river. Now home to an art museum in the new i-SITE visitor centre, which itself is a welcome extension of the i-SITE on the way into town, the complex is to be enhanced further, over the next two years, by the addition of a Hundertwasser Arts Centre, based on designs Hundertwasser offered the local council before his untimely demise. Married with the area’s rewarding arts trail, the scenic track to Whangarei Falls and a handful of new tours and activities, Whangarei should finally be able to persuade tourists to stick around, for a day or so at least.
Whangarei’s most appealing features currently are its state-of-the-art Kiwi House, the peaceful parks, and the easy walks within a few minutes of the town, the best of which are outlined in the free Whangarei Walks leaflet.