A place of history and heart

Comprised of Mangawhai Heads, Mangawhai Village and surrounding areas, Mangawhai sits at the south west border of the Kaipara Harbour. To the North are Ruakaka and Whangarei and to the South, Matakana and Warkworth.

The area is remarkable with a diversity of elements including a naturally occurring harbour, sand spit and ocean frontage.

The sand spit of dramatic dunes forms a protected channel of water connecting the Heads and Village with outlying areas.

The harbour has a boat ramp and jetty with a long stretch of white sandy beach. One of Mangawhai’s three campsites sits directly at the harbour water’s edge, with a white sandy beach and calm water that the whole family will love.

There is a deeper water channel within the estuary and being tidal, strong currents provide a good work out for the sport swimmer or kayaker. 

The harbour is bordered by large sand dunes, part of which are DOC-protected for the rare Fairy Tern, Caspian and White Fronted Terns, Banded Dotterels, and Variable Oyster Catchers. The dunes can be visited with DOC notices to guide you away from nesting sites.

The often photographed Crocodile Rocks border the surf beach providing a natural edge to the harbour outlet to the ocean. Rich in rock pools, backed by sand dunes and bush, with access to cliff top walks, the surf beach will entertain the whole family.


Rich in seafood and fertile soil, Mangawhai has a strong Maori history. Descended from the iwi of Ngati Whatua, the hapu of Te Uri o Hau has become the iwi of Kaipara. Te Uri o Hau descends from Haumoewaarangi through Hakiputatomuri, who is the tribe’s founding ancestor, and includes people who affiliate to nga marae tuturu: Otamatea, Waikaretu, Oruawharo, Arapaoa (William R Wright, Manawhenua Report, Te Uri o Hau Wahapu o Kaipara, December 1996).

In the early 1800s, European settlers collected Kauri gum and timber, transforming the bush into farmland for cattle and sheep.

Brimming with creativity

It is during the last 50 years that Mangawhai has undergone its latest renaissance, becoming a haven for artists of all kinds. Ceramics, painting, sculpture, food and music play integral roles in the community culture and spirit of Mangawhai.

Food art doesn’t get much better than Bennetts of Mangawhai - master chocolatier - and their architectural building is another art form in itself. Many of the buildings in the area are architectural pieces, from the Mangawhai Tavern and early Bach designs to the Mangawhai Museum. 

The stream of the stingray

Early Maori named Mangawhai for its “stream of the stingray” and stingray can frequently be seen in the estuary and harbour.

References to the stingray and sea life can be seen in the architecture of the Museum building, the local Te Whai Bay wine label, many of the cafes and features strongly in the local art.

AA Directions - Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures

A shell on my desk reminds me of a weekend at the beach. It is a remnant of a whelk, rubbed and tumbled and smoothed over years at sea to become a lumpy ring.

I’ve had many such rings over the years, rinsed clean of sand, slipped onto little fingers as the beach walk continues. This souvenir is from Mangawhai Heads’ Ocean Beach, of a glorious evening walk to where the cliff top track ascends, rising to follow the edge of land above crashing surf, gliding gulls, endless views.

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One Of The 10 Most Beautiful Towns In New Zealand

Idyllic beaches, breathtaking mountains, beautiful lakes – New Zealand has it all. From the South Island’s Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital, to the surfing Mecca of Raglan on North Island, we traverse this beautiful country to bring you ten of its most scenic towns.

It may be just 100 kilometers north of New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, but the charming Northland town of Mangawhai could be a whole world away.

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Viva - When in Mangawhai

When in Mangawhai

They call it Magical Mangawhai, and with its beautiful beach, great food and proximity to Auckland we can see why.

The Northland spot has become a favourite of foodies and fashion insiders, including Kate Sylvester and Viva editor Amanda Linnell. Here's our go-to guide of what to visit when you’re not at the beach.

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Mangawhai Golf Club

Mangawhai Golf

A little out of the way – A lot out of the ordinary! I think I may have just found where our next home is going to be.

A few years ago there was a campaign ‘Don’t leave home till you’ve seen the country’. At the time I thought I had seen a reasonable amount of the country but as we recently discovered there is often a lot more to a place than a one day visit highlights.

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Artisans: Tree tomatoes - a savoury or sweet treat

Tamarillo jelly is great as a condiment with cheese and crackers.

Les and Liz Holsted were sick of their busy corporate jobs in the city and decided to buy a block of land up north to get out of the rat race. "It was the mid-life crisis thing really," says Liz. "We had dreams of going to Italy for six months and learning to make limoncello while our lemon trees grew at home. When we got real about it, we saw it was a huge operation and started to think about alternatives."

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Brunch: Bennetts Cafe, Mangawhai

We came here because we were staying in Mangawhai for Easter - along with several thousand other people; the coastal tourist spot was packed.

Parking was right outside in the carpark, which is laid with white stone chips and bordered by mini olive trees. Nice. There is more parking on the road.

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Mangawhai Days of Wine and Olives

Mangawhai's like a little piece of Provence, just an hour out of Auckland.

Less than an hour and a half's drive from Auckland, Mangawhai Heads is an unexpected gastronomic delight. We visited thinking we might get a beach walk and pub lunch but instead found award-winning wine to taste, gorgeous olive oil to sample and an authentic French eatery going incognito.

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The magic of Mangawhai

The Magic of Mangawhai

There's plenty to see and do - and eat - in nearby Mangawhai, discovers Graham Hepburn, writing for the NZ Herald.

As a cadet reporter with the Northern Advocate, I first visited Mangawhai in the mid-1980s when I wrote about the construction of the schooner R. Tucker Thompson.

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