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Your guide to Tutukaka
All About Tutukaka
White-sand beaches fringed by pohutukawa trees draw travelers to Tutukaka, a city on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The surrounding green hills are covered with evergreens and the song of tui and bellbirds. With its sparkling natural harbor, whose marina is full of boats, and its local dive shops, Tutukaka is a hub for coastal exploration.
The craggy coast is studded with sandy shores, many of which are only reachable by boat or hiking trails. You could head to Sandy Bay for surfing, or drop anchor in Kowharewa Bay to fish for John Dory and Crevalle jack. You can also rent a stand-up paddleboard at the marina to explore more of the coastline. After a day on the water, retire to Tutukaka’s city center for freshly caught fish and chips on the village green. Although the city is a year-round destination, a special time to visit Tutukaka is actually during the winter, when the pohutukawa trees, sometimes called “New Zealand Christmas trees,” are decked out in scarlet blooms.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Tutukaka?
New Zealand’s Northland region has a subtropical climate and is often referred to as “the winterless north” because of the pleasant weather year round. The hottest weather in summer is in late January and February, while the cooler months are June and July. During late December and January, the Christmas and summer holidays coincide, and most of New Zealand goes on holiday.
Every summer at the beginning of January, the Our People in the Park Tutukaka Music Festival takes place at the Marina Reserve. Six months later, the Tutukaka Northern Lights Festival illuminates the village over 11 days at the beginning of July, with displays up and down the coast, including performances from LED and fire dancers, glow yoga, and night SUP paddleboarding.
What are the top things to do in Tutukaka?
Tutukaka Lighthouse Walkway
For a gentle local walk, take the signposted track from Marina Road out to the lighthouse across the Tutukaka headland. The scenic Tutukaka Lighthouse Walkway only takes around an hour, but the last section must be done around low tide because of the rocky causeway that leads to Kukutauwhao Island.
Just a 10-minute drive north of Tutukaka, the Matapouri Headland boasts beautiful beaches. From the horseshoe-shaped Matapouri Beach, with its white sand and huge pohutukawa trees, take the walkway across the headland to the secluded Whale Bay, which has no road access. Or walk out onto the headland to visit the Mermaids Pool and further lookouts along the coast. After your walk, cool off with a dip in the sea, which is possible most days of the year.
Poor Knights Marine Reserve
If you love snorkeling or diving, Tutukaka is the entry point for exploring the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, where warm currents and clear waters create a diving paradise. The soaring volcanic cliffs that ring the reserve are home to seabirds, while underwater, a diverse range of sea life abounds. You may encounter dolphins, whales, and sting rays while peeking into the underwater caves. Deep-sea fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are also popular activities in this marine reserve.