Dec 27

Day 4: Mangawhai Heads to Paihia

by in Accommodation NZ, New Zealand Travel, Sightseeing NZ

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We left home at 9 am and checked out No-Tree Hill — officially One Tree Hill. A few years ago, a Maori with a very Pakeha (White man) name of Mike Smith chain-sawed the pine tree on the grounds of it being a symbol of colonialism. At least the obelisk and grave of John Logan Campbell are still intact.

One Tree Hill monument

One Tree Hill monument

Alexandra Park

Alexandra Park in the foreground

You get a great view of Auckland in all directions. Campbell Park is a green oasis a few kilometres from the central business district of Auckland. People climb the hill (Maungakiekie) and run past the beautiful pohutukawa trees, which were flowering. The red flowers that bloom around late December have earned it the name of the NZ Christmas Tree. Sheep wander through the grass, dodging arrows from the archery club.

Pohutukawa flowers

Pohutukawa flowers

Mangawhai Heads

We then drove over the Auckland Harbour Bridge and stopped in Warkworth. We rang a friend and spent some quality time with his family climbing the large sand dunes not far from his house at Mangawhai Heads.



The area around the sand dunes is protected by the NZ Department of Conservation because it is the home of the endangered NZ Fairy Tern. We saw two eggs in the grass when the mother flew off as we approached.

Climbing the dunes was hard work as the sand is soft and blows inland all the time. The property fence was buried in many parts and this poses a threat to the fairy terns from animals. Some people were having a great time sand surfing with boogie boards. We weren’t as adventurous but we did attempt surfing from a lower part of the dune.

Maori shell midden

Maori shell midden, Mangawhai

Walking down a large sand dune

Walking down a large sand dune at Mangawhai Heads


We had lunch in Whangarei, the main centre in Northland. We then drove north to Paihia. Lots of slow traffic along the way, particularly after we rejoined SH1. We arrived at the Outrigger Motel and were pleasantly surprised that it is on Williams Road, the same as the ferry terminal, so we couldn’t have been more central. For some reason, when researching hotels, it seemed a couple of streets away from the action.

Foursquare, Williams Rd, Paihia

Four Square, Williams Rd, Paihia

We bought some groceries at the Four Square shop just around the corner and then went out for dinner at Lips Bar and Cafe. The Four Square man has become an icon that you will find on aprons, shopping bags and other tourist souvenirs.

Our Outrigger motel review at TripAdvisor.


The only toll road in NZ is north of Auckland, before Warkworth. It costs NZ$2 each way but there is no toll booth or bucket, so you can pay at a preceding petrol station (northbound) or some other way (southbound). All cars are photographed and you have five days to pay online at, which is the option we chose.

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