Plan to spend three days in Northland. On Day 1 take in the main town of Paihia, and then catch the ferry to Russell for lunch and sightseeing. Drive north on the second day, stopping at beaches and Cape Reinga. Meander home via the Hokianga on Day 3 by winding south through the forests along the West Coast to Kohukohu. Ferry south across serene Hokianga Harbour to Rawene. From Opononi, closer to the harbor's mouth, continue down the Kauri Coast to the Waipoua Forest. From there, Highway 12 runs to the arty town of Dargaville, and on to Matakohe, site of the renowned Kauri Museum. It's another half-hour to Brynderwyn, where you rejoin State Highway 1 about an hour north of Auckland.

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