8 epic things to do in Kaitaia | Travel guide

Kaitaia is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the North’. From there, you can easily explore the Aupouri Peninsula – the northernmost part of the country. This area is home to Cape Regina, Ninety Mile Beach, Houhora Heads and Tapotupotu Bay.

You’ll also find several things to do in and around the town itself, like the Te Ahu Museum and a visit to Okahu Estate Vineyard & Winery.

Not to mention, the fantastic (and surprisingly affordable) motels where you can stay.

This Kaitaia guide details everything you should know for your visit, including the most popular attractions, the best eateries, and some great accommodation options.

Our favourite things to do in Kaitaia

In no particular order, these are some of our favourite things to do in Kaitaia.

You won’t find tons of things to do in the town itself, so for that reason, some of the places below require a short drive.

1. Visit Te Ahu Museum

Visiting Te Ahu Museum is one of the best things to do in Kaitaia. It’s the place to go if you’re looking to learn about the local history.

You’ll find a variety of treasures here.

Some of the most popular items include early Māori carvings and the skeleton of an extinct kuri (a Polynesian dog) which dates back around 500 years.

It’s also a great thing to do on a wet-weather day, though Northland doesn’t get as many of these as other parts of the country!

Cnr South Rd & Matthews Ave, Kaitaia 0410

2. Enjoy a drink at Okahu Estate Vineyard & Winery

If you’re a wine lover then you’ll want to visit Monty at Ohaku Estate.

Having a vineyard located in the country’s warmest region comes with unique challenges, but the wine produced here is well worth checking out. It’s actually won a number of awards!

The owner of Ohaku Estate is extremely knowledgeable, making it the perfect place for a wine-tasting experience.

Why not buy a couple of bottles too to enjoy later?

520 Okahu Road Kaitaia Northland

3. Check out Kā Uri Unearthed (previously Kauri Kingdom)

Kā Uri is just an 8-minute drive from town we think it’s worth a visit.

There you can watch carvers work with ancient kauri wood and appreciate the local artwork that’s for sale.

However, for many, the highlight of Kā Uri is the kauri staircase that’s located in the showroom’s centre. This marvel is carved from a solitary trunk, giving a real sense of how massive these giant trees are.

235 State Highway 1, Awanui 0451

4. Play a game at Kaitaia Golf Club

Kaitaia Golf Club is just a 15-minute drive from the centre of town. It’s located along the iconic Ninety Mile Beach and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area.

While here, you can play 9 or 18 holes, with your own gear or hire clubs.

The prices are reasonable and you’ll be treated to epic vistas as you make your way around the course.

Takahe Street, Ahipara

A golf club about to hit a golf ball on the grass.

5. Swim at Apihara Beach

Apihara Beach is one of the closest to Kaitaia – it’s just a 15-minute drive – and we think it’s well worth the trip.

This beautiful golden sand beach is actually the southern entry to Ninety Mile Beach (which you’ll get to drive on if you decide to join a Cape Reinga tour).

There, you’ll find opportunities to swim, surf and fish, or just relax on and enjoy the beautiful bay. Or, if you want to get your heart pumping, climb the Ahipara Sand Dunes and sandboard your way back down.

We also recommend hanging about for sunset if you’re there near the end of the day – it’s definitely the best place to see out the day.

6. Visit Gumdiggers Park

Just a 20-minute drive from Kaitaia, you’ll find Gumdiggers Park. There are plenty of awesome things to do here, including walking trails around the park are easy and scenic.

The highlight of a visit to Gumdiggers Park are the two buried kauri forests though. Some of the logs are over 10,000 years old so they really are ancient!

​171 Heath Road, R D 1, Awanui, Northland

7. Check out the surrounding spots on a day trip

As we mentioned, Kaitaia is a relatively small town, so it’s worth branching out to nearby locations.

If you have a car, we highly recommend hitting the road early and exploring nearby Karikari Peninsula, Cable Bay, Coopers Beach and Mangōnui.

Karikari Peninsula

The closest of these places, Karikari Peninsula is beautiful.

There, you’ll find Maitai Bay. This incredible bay is one of the best in the whole country. It’s sheltered and absolutely beautiful, lined by pōhutukawa trees that flush red in the summertime.

Karikari Estate is also a great place to head for a nice lunch. This winery and vineyard provides expansive views over the Pacific Ocean, and of course, serves a great pour.

If you enjoy playing golf, you’ll want to head for Carrington Golf Course on the peninsula too. Widely considered one of the most beautiful in New Zealand, this championship 18-hole course is one for the bucket list.

Cable Bay and Coopers Beach

Continuing south along the coast, you’ll find Cable Bay and Coopers Beach. These two charming coastal communities and beaches are right next to each other.

With calm swimming beaches and more pōhutukawa trees (which are always a favourite in the Kiwi summer), we recommend heading to the supermarket or fish and chips shop, grabbing a feed and enjoying a picnic on the sand.

Coopers Beach.

While in Cable Bay, be sure to stop by the famous ice cream shop (right on the water) to treat yourself.

Mangōnui

Continue south along the coast and you’ll come upon Mangōnui.

This cute little coastal town is known for serving amazing fish and chips. Head either to the most famous location (the Mangonui Fish Shop, perched over the ocean) or to the quieter Fresh & Tasty Takeaways at the Mangōnui Hotel (great for more affordable takeaways).

Mangōnui also has a couple of great local art galleries and some worthwhile boutiques, so allow yourself time to wander the shops.

8. Book a tour to Cape Reinga

No trip to Northland is complete without visiting Cape Reinga, and though you can drive there yourself, we recommend joining a tour.

The guided tours include sand boarding, a drive along Ninety Mile Beach (that’s right, on the sand!) and professional commentary – all things you’ll miss out on if you drive yourself.

You’ll also get to see the Cape Reinga Lighthouse (at the northern-most tip of New Zealand) and where the Tasman Sea and South Pacific Ocean meet.

We recommend joining the Fullers GreatSights tour to Cape Reigna. These tours leave from Paihia and Kerikeri, but departures from Kaitaia can also be arranged as they drive right through town.

Distant view of tourists going to the lighthouse that overlooks the blue waters of the vast Pacific Ocean.

The best places to eat in Kaitaia

Beachcomber Restaurant

Beachcomber Restaurant is known for its grilled meats, fresh salad bar, and seafood – not to mention the tasty desserts.

The food here is delicious but the excellent service is another reason to visit. Not only that but the portions are pretty impressive too.

Understandably, is one of the most popular places to eat in town.

222 Commerce Street, Kaitaia 0410

Indian Spice

As the name suggests, Indian Spice specialises in Indian cuisine – and they do a great job of cooking authentic kai (food).

There are a wide variety of dishes to choose from and these include vegetarian options, seafood dishes, and a selection of meats (chicken, lamb, beef and goat).

43 Commerce Street, Kaitaia 0410

Kaitaia Bakehouse Cafe and Roast

With polite staff, generous portions, and a relaxing atmosphere, Kaitaia Bakehouse Cafe and Roast is another great option if you’re after a quick bite.

It’s especially great for a hearty breakfast, as you can opt for a Kiwi breakfast, pancakes, french toast, omelettes and more (all at affordable prices).

1 Empire Street, Kaitaia

Gecko Cafe

The Gecko Cafe is another popular option in Kaitaia.

If you’re after breakfast, lunch, or a delicious sweet treat then there are plenty of choices. The freshly ground coffee is a must too.

71 Commerce St, Kaitaia

Where to stay in Kaitaia

Most of the motels and guesthouses in Kaitaia are affordable, clean and tidy

Here are some of the best options for your stay…

Budget: Gateway To The Far North

Gateway to the Far North is one of the most affordable B&Bs in town.

There are both rooms and studios available, so naturally, the features will differ depending on which option you choose.

If you stay here, you’ll be just a 5-minute walk from town and the main bus terminal. Your breakfast will also be included and there’s free WiFi too.

Mid-range: Kauri Lodge Motel

Kauri Lodge Motel is located right in the centre of town and is just a short walk from Te Ahu Museum.

The airport is just a 10-minute drive away too.

With an outdoor swimming pool, self-service laundry facilities, an on-site tour desk and a free airport shuttle service, this place offers excellent value for money.

There’s even a children’s playground just across the road, making it great for families.

Mid-range: Kaitaia Motor Lodge

Another fantastic accommodation option is Kaitaia Motor Lodge.

This comfortable property is located just out of town but it’s still in a great location. Just opposite, you’ll find tour buses that depart for Cape Regina and Ninety Mile Beach.

There are a variety of apartments available at this motel and each one offers lots of space.

You’ll also benefit from plenty of amenities including a great outdoor swimming pool.

Although this charming town is only small, there are plenty of things to do in Kaitaia.

For the best experience, you’ll want to allow at least a day or two to explore this part of Northland.

Have you ever been to Kaitaia?

If you have, what’s your favourite thing to do there?

Let us know in our Facebook group.

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