This place could be called Tu-Tu-many charming coves haha. Past Ngunguru and up to Sandy Bay this hunk of coast is just chock full of secluded sandy coves. Unlike the Bay of Island's commercialized tourist blitz, this coast of coves feels very laid-back and local. The scuba scene out at Poor Knights gets all the publicity around here, but there's really so much more. Come to camp...you'll be less poor and have some great nights (sorry.)
Swimming is a delight near Tutukaka. No matter which way the wind blows you can find a nearby beach of emerald tranquility. Hire a kayak in the Tutukaka marina (or Ngunguru, Matapouri) and you've got the perfect calm-water adventure vessel...the hours will whiz by as you poke into every nook and land at each people-free beach.
Ngunguru. The claim to fame here is the long sandspit. Best thing about the sandspit is that you can't get there...except via the water. Swim or kayak over. Miles of golden sand await, not an effing ATV in sight.
Whangaumu Bay. A long beach looking south. This is the best place to watch a sunset and get some last rays at happy hour. At the west end is an easy lookout track. A low-tide beach/cove route heads west about 1.5km to Ngunguru - best in morning sun.
Tutukaka Heads track. This is a brilliant short stepped track that heads to the Heads' mini lighthouse. The track descends to and crosses a rocky isthmus (easy to cross at lowtide, but requires splashing at high-tide). This 20-minute track may take you two hours when you realize all the charms. The lighthouse view spans about 120km from Cape Brett down to Cape Rodney. The fun isthmus is studded with nooks and crannies, cats eyes and blowholes. A great short walk!
Matapouri Bay. Lots of baches, lots of beauty, lots to explore. The south end stream is a vast sand-scape and snorkel fun. The northest cove, at low tide, has a path which leads thru a rock tunnel to some wave-terrace wilds where mermaids frolic. Bring an Ariel and you'll find a deep pool (to the right) that will make your hearts sing! A headland loop track leaves the north end of the Matapouri Beach and cruises 20 minutes over to Whale Bay. This is the best track up here-all headland views and hidden coves. To loop back take the unsigned arrowed track that steps down from Whale's carpark - it zips effortlessly back to Matapouri.
Whale Bay. (1km past Matapouri.) On a coast full of superlatives, this beach may reign supreme. You must walk a steep 5-hour path* to get to this gem, thus, no human whales allowed. Calm waters, protected from the wind and waves, invite swimming and sunning on this slice of heaven. Whale faces west, meaning great afternoon and sunset light. Have a swim and a beer and a kiss and a smile...and watch the couples pose for wedding pix. Pssst, if there are too many human whales around for your liking, take your little Ariel, head for the picnic table and find the scamper path that heads up, over, and down to secluded Cabbage Tree Bay. *("5 hour path" is snail time.)
Sandy Bay. Where the surfers hang. Drive-up beach, soft sand, picnic tables, toilets. Explore north over the rocks to the naturist cove.
Whananaki Coastal Walkway. Skip this, it sucks. Neither coastal nor interesting. More cows than coast.