Paradise beaches of Tutukaka Coast – finally achieving the sisters family beach holiday!
Within two weeks upon arriving in New Zealand, we had travelled to the Bay of Island, Northland region and spent an amazing time kayaking, fishing and swimming in turquoise waters and golden beaches. Inspired by our stunning images of the beaches in this part of the country, my sister who lives in Pennsylvania, USA with her hubby and 2 small kids, wanted to go on such a beach holiday with us during their two weeks whirlwind visit to New Zealand. Hard to imagine how time has flown since we started this vacation and now they are gone, left two days ago 🙁
We thought it would be best not to go far, somewhere within 2-3 hour drive from Auckland. The fact that they were travelling with a 2 and 4 year old on a 40 hour plane journey was brave enough, and we didn’t want to pack in another faraway holiday after their already super long journey to get here! We did a little bit of research and decided on Whangerei, Northland region. We had passed it on our way to Kerikeri and Paihia the last time we were here and I had read somewhere that this area was famous for diving and fishing. At that point in time we had no idea about Tutukaka coast and the pristine beaches around here! I was looking forward to diving at Poor Knight’s Island, famous for being one of the top diving spots in the world and the best in New Zealand. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my refresher’s diving course done as the system didn’t find my original PADI Open Water Diver licence 🙁 Not too surprised as I last dived almost 17 years ago. I am going to have to do the course all over again whilst here in New Zealand before I can dive again.
We used AirBnB and found a lovely cottage with a private beach that houses 9 people, which just happened to be on the Tutukaka coast. We arrived late afternoon and met the friendly owner who told us about fishing and swimming at the private beach just walking distance from the house. He also adviced us about where else to go over the next few days. It was quite chilly that day, it had rained all day but thankfully had stopped by the time we got there. We went to the beach for a while, met the friendliest (but scarily large) cows and Ashique and Shahaar fished off the rocks. Rest of us enjoyed the tranquility of the surroundings and having the beach to ourselves!
Ashique and my brother in law Choppy went night fishing that night as it was low tide at 11pm. They caught several fish within minutes of releasing bait! It was Choppy’s first time fishing and was quite a memorable experience. They even saw a penguin come out of from one of the caves and jump into the water, annoyed at being disturbed by the two of them. They had several large crabs all around them. They caught snappers and gurnards and were quite pleased with themselves for being able to forage for food, hunter gatherer style 🙂
Even though this beach was nice and fishing here amazing, nothing prepared us for the stunning white sand and crystal clear water beaches we got to explore the next few days! I will let the pictures speak for themselves. The weather was sunny with blue skies and no clouds, water was cold so it helped the sun was out. We spent hours snorkelling, swimming, playing in the sand, kayaking and going on short walks around the cliffs. And due to it being low season (or maybe it’s always like this) we had the beaches all to ourselves 🙂
The second day we went to Whale Bay beach which is known as somewhat of a ‘secret beach.’ You had to go through a short bush walk to get to the beach. The beach was lovely, not as nice as Matauri in our opinion, but was quite unique being surrounded by giant trees. Fishing off the rocks here is very popular but our second day was a bit cloudy and we didn’t stick around as long as we did the first day at Matauri Bay. We drove to Whangerei and visited the Whangerei falls which was lovely. We had dinner out here at Killer Prawn highly recommend, great food!
Sands Bay Another great beach just few minutes drive from Whale Bay. This beach has been famous for being a surfing beach since the 1960s. We saw several young kids surfing, really made me want to take up surf lessons! There were unique rock formations here and cliffs to explore. We found oyster beds and tried fresh oysters – Ashique did, I didn’t have the guts to do it even though I love oysters.
Despite the fact that I didn’t get to dive this time, we absolutely loved our 4 days in Tutukaka. We found some of the most amazing beaches in this area, and got to see plenty of marine life without diving. We also saw and heard several species of birds. The community in general seemed really friendly, we got to chat with some of the locals whilst doing takeaway from Ngunguru Fish and Chips Takeaway. I definitely look forward to being back after I have my diving certificate again, possibly spring time in October. For now, I am happy my sister and I got to have our ‘beach holiday’ – the kind we used to do with our parents in Thailand when we were young. Since we have always lived in different continents in our adult ‘family’ lives and never close to the sea, we haven’t had a chance to do such a ‘beach bum’ holiday together in a long time. We finally did with four kids in tow and had a blast 🙂