Bream Bay / Waipu
Bream Bay’s spectacular giant arc of white sand and clear water spans from Langs Beach in the south to Marsden Point at its northern tip. Within it are estuaries, wildlife refuges, native bush, rural scenery, several small communities and amongst the leisure activities are fishing, safe swimming, hiking, caving and surf breaks.
This natural crescent is rich in culture – the Maori ancestral home of Patuharakeke and is famous for its unique blend of Scottish/Nova Scotian heritage. Today, enjoy the cafes and bars, local art and crafts and wide range of leisure activities. Accommodation options range from classy waterfront bed and breakfast, to motels and sought after coastal camp grounds.
Stunning white sand beaches
Langs is a stunning white sandy beach with views to offshore islands and craggy headlands, framed by ancient coastal trees. Swimming, surfing, body-surfing. Excellent spot for a shoreline stroll and feeling the sand between your toes.
This beautiful white sand surf beach is popular for swimming, surfing and fishing. A lovely river borders the eastside which is safer for small children. A section of the ocean beach is patrolled by lifeguards over summer. Waipu Cove has a village feel with a vibrant camp ground virtually on the beach. Toilets, picnic tables, BBQ’s, convenience store and cafes.
Waipu village is rich in Scottish Heritage, and these days also boasts a great selection of local art, crafts and cafes. It is home to the Caledonian Highland Games every New Year, the oldest running highland event in the southern hemisphere. Competitors come from around the world to dance and out muscle each other in traditional Celtic challenges. June to August features ‘Winter @ Waipu’, a varied calendar of events. Throughout the year there is a market on the first Saturday of the month in the Coronation Hall. Extra Street Markets are held on the Saturday of long weekends, while on Sunday the popular Waipu Antiques & Collectables Fair takes over the hall. All are welcome at Scottish Country Dancing nights, also held in Coronation Hall.
In Waipu village the amazing story of the great migration of Scottish Highlanders who moved from Nova Scotia to New Zealand is told in the Waipu Museum. See the last horse drawn cart made in Waipu, the life size Piper, and the House of Memories.
White sand and surf, stunning views to offshore islands and magnificent Bream Head. A Department of Conservation campsite nestles in sand dunes, right beside the beach.
A 13 km expanse of white sand and surf between river outlets, Ruakaka Beach is popular for surf, sun and water sports. The Ruakaka Surf Life Saving Club is on patrol from Labour Weekend until Easter every year, and also hosts beach education days and surf lifesaving competitions. Motels, bed & breakfasts and camping ground. The Ruakaka Racecourse ‘Where the Turf meets the Surf”, a unique all weather racecourse hardly a furlong inland from the breakers.
Deep water port, and Oil Refinery, Marsden Point
Marsden Point Oil Refinery
New Zealand’s only oil refinery began operating at Marsden Point in 1964. Its Visitor Centre is open to the public daily and features a working scale model of the refinery, with sound and light show. Unlike many big industrial operations the refinery is set in a stunning location, on a natural spit surrounded by beaches
One Tree Point
This village on the south side of Whangarei harbour sits under the spell of majestic Mount Manaia across the channel. A gently shelving beach is safe for children swimming, and launching small craft, with deeper moorings beyond.
Situated just inside the entrance of the picturesque Whangarei Harbour, the newly developed Marsden Cove Marina is envisaged to become one of New Zealand's most sought after marine and holiday destinations. It boasts a world class 230 berth marina and offers boat owners convenient all tide and weather access to and from the ocean via a deep water harbour as well as the perfect base to explore Northlands cruising, diving and game fishing grounds. The Marina is set to be further enhanced with attractive multi level resort style buildings offering a mix of tourist business, retail outlets, cafes, apartments, high quality free-standing homes, a retirement village, dry stack berth, recreational reserves, a marine service precinct, public ramps and fuel berths plus much more. Also home to annual fishing contests and the Marsden Cove Boat Show.
Internationally significant wildlife refuges for shore birds and waders are found at the Ruakaka and Waipu river mouths. Among the species which feed and breed in these pristine estuaries are the NZ dotterel, variable oyster catcher and critically endangered NZ fairy tern. Other species include wrybill, reef heron and banded dotterel – all rare and protected.
Offshore the Hen & Chicken Islands, named by Captain Cook in 1769, beckon the imagination. The islands are the remains of long dormant volcanoes, once part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Known to the Maori as ‘Marotiri and Taranga’, they are now a wildlife sanctuary. Strictly no landing without a permit.
Waipu Caves feature, stalactites and stalagmites lit by glowworms within impressive limestone formations. There is head room inside the cave entrance, although wet and slippery. Good footwear and torch needed. For the more serious under-ground explorers the main cave is some 175 meters long. Local guides provide caving and abseiling tours.
Waipu Caves Walkway
The 2km Waipu Caves walkway is signposted from Ormiston Road. The track climbs a leading ridge through farmland dotted with native trees and offering excellent views, through a scenic reserve to the valley and cave area and a choice picnic spot.
Signposted from SH1 just south of Waipu, the waterfall is a 10 minute walk on a short, steep, zigzag track through beautiful bush, to excellent swimming holes.
Kukupa, Native Wood Pidgeon
The Brynderwyn Range is a major topographical feature on the Auckland to Whangarei highway. The 18km Brynderwyn walkway generally follows the top of the range with fantastic coastal and inland views. The western section begins at the 293m summit of the range on State Highway 1. The track can also be accessed from the inland ends of Massey and Cullen Roads and ends on Cove Road between Langs Beach and Mangawhai. This walkway uses unformed legal road, private forestry roads and passes through private land belonging to 11 different owners. The ranges are host to many of the country’s bird species, and also one of the last refuges of the rare hotchstetter frog. Parts of the track are sometimes closed due to logging operations – check first with Department of Conservation.
Maori At Takahiwai on the southern shores of the Whangarei Harbour is the Marae of the Patuharakeke Hapu, whose ancestral lands covered the whole of the Bream Bay area. Patuharakeke are the kaitiaki (traditional guardians) of the district.
Scottish Heritage ‘Haere Mai Ceud Mile Failt’ – A hundred thousand welcomes (in Maori and Gaelic) to Waipu, the Celtic Heart of Bream Bay.
In 1817 Scotsman Norman McLeod led a remarkable migration that eventually ended in New Zealand. Forced to leave the highlands of Scotland, the clans first settled at St Ann’s in Nova Scotia and built a strong community. However, the bitterly cold winters, combined with potato blight and other crop failure brought extreme hardship and 900 of them decided to emigrate to secure a better future in more benevolent climes. In small sailing ships they had built themselves they headed for Australia. Not finding what they wanted across the Tasman, in 1853 these Nova Scotian pioneers settled in and around Waipu where they established farming, gum digging, bush felling and trading.
Captain Cook anchored off Waipu in 1769 and when his hungry crew caught a large haul of ‘bream’, the delicacy we enjoy today as snapper, he named the area Bream Bay.