Did you know that Northland is New Zealand’s only subtropical region? Just hearing the word ‘subtropical’, while the rest of the country is shivering though winter, is enough to send us racing up north for a weekend. So when the winter weather is beginning to wear on you, it might be time to trade your jacket in for your jandals and take a trip to the mild-weathered north.
So what can you honestly expect from a Northland winter? You can expect temperatures that are warmer than in any other part of New Zealand: averages ranging from 7C (45F) to 16C (61F). It does rain occasionally, so be sure to pack appropriately, and check the weather forecast to help you decide on your activities.
What to do
If you're escaping the winter further south, you'll want to be sure to spend as much time as possible enjoying the great outdoors in Northland. It might be a little chilly for swimming at the beach, but there are plenty of wintertime outdoors activities (that don't require skis) for you to enjoy. The region is packed with great walking and tramping trails. Be sure to incorporate a walk in Waipoua Forest to see Tane Mahuta (New Zealand's largest living kauri) into your itinerary. You can also enjoy the water without getting in: take a cruise or rent a kayak around the Bay of Islands. While you're in the area, you should also pay a visit to the Cape Reinga lighthouse. And don't forget about the cultural attractions! The Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the birthplace of our nation, is a must-see, and the towns and villages scattered around the peninsula are well-worth exploring. There are also some great museums in the area that make for good rainy day fun.
Northland is fairly compact, making it an ideal destination for road trips. Don't miss the scenic Twin Coast Discovery Highway, and feel free to follow any signs you spot leading to new attractions. Just remember to add extra driving time to your itinerary: you'll be likely to make a few unexpected stops along the way for photos and walks. There are shuttle buses available to take you between the larger towns in Northland, but these don't allow you as much freedom as a car does. The self-drive option is your best bet if you're interested in exploring the region.
Food and Drink
New Zealand's produce, seafood, meat and dairy is unmatched, and thanks to Northland's mild climate, we enjoy an abundance of fresh food even in the winter. Browse the Kerikeri Farmers Market on Sunday mornings between 8:30 and noon, or in Paihia from 2pm to 5:30pm on Thursdays, for fresh goodies to snack on. In addition to great produce, Northland is known for its seafood: be sure to sample some kaimoana on your visit. And don't forget the wine! Northland is the oldest wine-growing region in New Zealand. Try the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Chardonnay. Accommodation There is so much to see and do in the beautiful north, no matter what the season, that you will want to base yourself there for at least a week. Check out TOP 10's range of motel accommodation and sites in Northland.