Whangarei Tourist Attractions
Whangarei (pop. 44,000), the largest and most important town north of Auckland, lies on an indented natural harbor that runs far inland on the east coast of Northland.
The town developed late but rapidly. The nearby deep-water harbor on Marsden Point can take large tankers and a large oil refinery was built there. The oil-fired power station that it supplied was closed down in 1992. There are also modern factories producing cement, fertilizers and glass.An imposing backdrop to this modern port and industrial town is provided by the five peaks of Mount Mania (404m).Although European immigrants established a settlement here in 1839, constant disputes with the local Maoris hampered its development, and in 1845, during the war with Hone Heke, most of the settlers fled to Auckland.The development of Northland was held back by its poor infrastructure, and an all-weather road from Auckland was only built in the mid-1930s. The breakthrough came in the 1960s when an oil refinery and an oil-fired power station were built, and these were gradually followed by other industries.
Claphams Clock Museum
The Clapham Clock Museum has a collection of some 800 clocks, the earliest dating from the 17th C.Visitors can listen to the unique chimes and cuckoos as well as learn about the international history of clock making.
On Mount Parahaki (242m) is a large war memorial. From the top of the hill there are fine views of the town and harbor. The hill can be climbed either on foot (from Mair Park; about 1 hour) or by car (on Memorial Drive).
There are a number of natural and cultural attractions in the Whangarei surrounding areas.
Whangarei Museum (Northland Regional Museum)
This open-air museum lies 8km west of Whangarei on Highway 14 (the Dargaville road), in the grounds of the Clarke Homestead (established 1885). The nucleus of the museum is the former doctor's house, to which a number of other houses, a schoolhouse and a chapel were later added.
A prominent landmark in the Whangarei area is the striped tower (120m high) of the former power station on Marsden Point, 30km southeast of Whangarei. The adjoining oil refinery was built so that New Zealand could import cheap crude oil rather than expensive end products. Nowadays, however, more than 40 per cent of the refinery's raw material comes from the oil and natural gas fields in the Taranaki region. The deep-water harbor on Marsden Point can accept tankers.In Marsden Point visitor center an audio-visual show illustrates the development of this industrial area and the technology of the refinery.
40km southeast of Whangarei, picturesquely situated at the outflow of the Waipu River into Bream Bay, is Waipu (region Northland; pop. 1,700), founded in the 1850s by Scottish immigrants who had previously tried their luck in Nova Scotia and at Adelaide (South Australia).In the center of the town is a monument commemorating the founders of the town in the form of a tall column bearing the Scottish lion rampant. The Waipu House of Memories displays mementos of pioneering days, family trees and the collected sermons of the Reverend Norman McLeod, the minister who brought the original settlers here.
Poor Knights Islands
24km east of Tutukaka are the Poor Knights Islands, a favorite area for divers. There are cruises and fishing trips to the islands from Whangarei.
Reed Memorial Kauri Park
This park, 2km from Whangarei on the Ngunguru road, is notable for its giant kauri trees and a beautiful waterfall.