If you're traveling from Auckland to Paihia to the beautiful Bay of Islands, you're in for a treat. Take the Twin Coast Highway and travel up the east coast and back down the west coast of Northland (or vice versa - we did east coast first).
Northland and in particular, Waitangi and Russell, is very important in New Zealand history - this is where the first European settlers established communities and where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Maori and pakeha in 1840. But there's more than history here; there is breath-taking scenery and a balmy sub-tropical climate - what more could you ask for in a vacation.
Spend some time in Paihia so you can explore the Bay of Islands and visit nearby KeriKeri and Russell.
Leave the hustle and bustle of Auckland behind as you cross the harbour bridge and head north on SH1 and make your way up the Hibiscus coast. There are so many beautiful beaches along here, you have plenty of places to stop and have a break.
There is the new Northern Gateway Toll road now that means you can bypass Orewa and the seaside towns, so if you are in a hurry, go via the this toll road. The toll road ends before Puhoi. We would advise paying the tunnel toll by phone or internet later in the day rather than stopping en route to pay - you have 5 days to pay. To pay online or for more information, click here.
The roads become less busy as you drive north and there are plenty of detours you can take if you have the time - for example, leave South Highway 1 (SH1) and visit Whangaparoa or Snell's beach or Pakiri beach. You will have to return to SH1 to reach Whangarei.
Whangarei means "harbour of whales" and referred to the "meeting of chiefs" that occurred as Maori waka (canoe) traveled along the Northland coast. This is the largest city in Northland and there is much on offer, so if you have time, explore a bit
You can take SH1 directly to Paihia, but consider leaving SH1 for a couple of worthwhile detours if you have the time.
You really need to spend some time in Paihia - it is the gateway to the spectacular Bay of Islands. Paihia is used to campervans and there are even special parking lots set aside for large motorhomes and campervans. Park up and wander around the village or better take some time out to get on the water!
First visit the iSite on Marsden Wharf and check out all the possibilities - there is loads to do here