Scream spent just under a week at the very cruiser-friendly town of Whangarei (pronounced fang-a-rey) just before Christmas. The town of Whangarei is about 15 miles up the river from Bream Head, but we thought it was well worth the trip.
[Photo by Sandy Austin]
We'd heard widely varied opinions about Whangarei from others - some people hated it, while others thought it was great. We found ourselves in the latter camp.
The town is ideal for cruisers. there's a set of cute little shops and eateries just along the waterfront at the town basin. Further along the water are the best set of boat facilities I've possibly ever seen. There are several boatyards and haul-out facilities available, not to mention sailmakers, chandleries, mechanics and engineering outfits.
Downtown Whangarei has everything else you might need. There's shopping of every kind, a movie theatre, a library, a waterpark, museums and art galleries, plus restaurants of every stripe. At one end of the spectrum, we had a killer meal at Killer Prawn (not cheap but worth it), and at the other we also enjoyed a great, inexpensive takeaway falafel from Fat Camel.
The downside to Whangarei is that there's no anchorage near town. You need to take a pile mooring or a dock at either the Town Basin or Riverside Drive Marina. If you want to do any cruising, it's a long way down the river, though there are some good anchorages near the heads at the ocean end. However, using Whangarei as a base for lots of cruising wouldn't be ideal (Opua is a much better choice for that).
I'd have liked to spend longer in Whangarei, but we had a schedule to keep to and sailed off to Auckland. Perhaps we'll get back there sometime before leaving New Zealand.