Our top spots to visit on a Northland summer roadie

21 January 2020

Escape the inner-city hustle to find pristine beaches and idyllic camping spots.

WORDS BY Fashion Quarterly New Zealand

Cape Reinga Lighthouse

When it’s hot, there is nothing quite like escaping the inner-city hustle to find pristine beaches and iconic Kiwi camping spots.

Northland is known for its white sand, picturesque landscape and crystal clear water. So what better way to escape the city, than with a summer roadie to some of the best spots New Zealand has to offer? And as it’s just a short journey from Auckland, it’s the perfect destination for a weekend escape of a few days of rest and relaxation.

Miss FQ’s digital content producer Ruby Hamilton has all the tips and tricks on where to camp, swim and eat north of Auckland.


Uretiti beach sunrise

Uretiti Beach

Less than a 2 hour drive from the city, Uretiti beach is the ideal spot for a weekend getaway. The family-friendly DOC campsite has everything you need for a comfortable camping experience, with hot water and plenty of other amenities!

Top tip: Make sure you pre-book a campsite during peak season.

Waipu Cove Cafe


Waipu Cove

Just a short drive from Uretiti, the little beachside town of Waipu is a bustling destination filled with hidden gems. I suggest a morning walk and an iced coffee from Waipu Cove Cafe! If it’s an afternoon snack you are looking for, Waipu is also home to McLeod’s Pizza Barn & Brewery. There’s nothing better than a bevvy and a treat in the sun after a day at the beach, right?

Lang's Beach

Lang’s Beach

And speaking of beaches, just a short drive (or long walk) from Waipu is Lang’s Beach and it is hands down one of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen! Grab your favourite book and find a spot under the big Pohutukawa trees, it’s bliss.


If your long weekend calls for a longer venture north, Ruakaka is known for it’s great fishing spots and sprawling beaches. If you are up early enough you may even spot a horse or two doing training laps on the beach, from the nearby racecourse. But there is one thing that this little beachside town is best known for and that’s the Porthouse Bar. Off the state highway, this classic tavern is a must-visit on your next roadie. Grab a beer, a burger and a spot in the outdoor garden and enjoy some local yarns and live music.

Matai Bay

Matai Bay

The best part about escaping the city for a few days is the freedom you have to explore and Matai Bay, on the Kari Kari Peninsula, needs to be at the top of your road trip list.  The four and a half hour drive is nothing short of magic. The scenery makes you really understand and appreciate why so many people visit our epic country, and the fact that it is our own backyard is beyond!  Sprawling white beaches, the bluest water you have ever seen and wild horses galloping up and down the sand dunes. Matai Bay is the ideal spot to set up camp if you want to explore further north as well.

90 Mile Beach wild horses

90 Mile Beach

This destination is nothing short of a Kiwi icon. Pack up the 4WD and head down for a drive along the beach, but keep an eye out for the herds of local wild horses too. Talk about a great photo op!

Birkenstock on sand dune

Te Paki Sand Dunes

Te Paki Sand Dunes

Did someone say sand boarding? Yes please! You can hire boogie boards and hit the dunes. This is a highly recommended roadie stop and it feels like you are on Mars. Keep an eye out for a little red dairy on the way past too, they have a great selection of pies and other essential road trip sustenance.

Cape Reinga lookout

Cape Reinga Lighthouse

You can’t really call it a Northland summer roadie unless you make it to the edge of the country… some may say it’s an overrated tourist attraction but it is so worth the visit. Enjoy the walk to the lighthouse and take in the epic views. If you luck out with a super clear day, it does feel like you’re on the edge of the universe.

Don’t forget to pack your summer roadie essentials:

  • Sunscreen
  • Togs
  • Walking shoes – you never know when you might need to explore a hidden beach!
  • Beach towels
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Snacks
Words and photos: Ruby Hamilton | @rubyjhamilton

FQ Recommends

Subscribe & Become an FQ VIP

As a Fashion Quarterly subscriber you enjoy exclusive content, giveaways, invitations to VIP events, and more.

Subscribe & Become an FQ VIP

As a Fashion Quarterly subscriber you enjoy exclusive content, giveaways, invitations to VIP events, and more.

Sign up to the FQ newsletter and WIN*

Get the latest fashion, beauty, and lifestyle news delivered straight to your inbox each week.

*Ts&Cs apply.

Find out more at fq.co.nz/fq-newsletter