Airports and Air services


The Whangarei District Airport, jointly owned by the Ministry of Transport and the Whangarei District Council, is situated at Handforth Street, Onerahi, an easy ten minute drive from Whangarei city centre. The national carrier operates daily scheduled flights (to Auckland and Wellington International Airports) from the airport. A number of other air service operators (e.g. clubs, commercial) operate charter flights and scheduled services to the Auckland CBD via North Shore Airport (and then by private bus) and to Great Barrier Island. Training services are also available for both light fix-wing aircraft and helicopter as is charter helicopter flights.

Far North

Far North Holdings Limited manages and operates three airports in the Far North District for the Far North District Council - Bay of Islands (Kerikeri), Kaitaia and Kaikohe. Commercial scheduled air services are operated from both Bay of Islands and Kaitaia airports with general aviation operating from all three.

Bay of Islands (Kerikeri) Airport is located west of Kerikeri just a short drive from Paihia, Russell and Opua. The national carrier operates four or five services each day to and from Auckland International Airport and another inter-regional carrier operates two or three services each day to and from Whangarei and Auckland’s North Shore. Kerikeri has customs clearance services available and is within flying distance for light aircraft arriving/departing from New Zealand to Norfolk Island, Noumea in New Caledonia or Lord Howe Island, which can be used as a stepping stone to the Australian mainland.

Kaitaia Airport is located north of the township and has two national carrier flights each weekday to and from Auckland International Airport with one flight on Saturdays and Sundays. It has the longest sealed runway in Northland at 1405m.

Kaikohe Airport with the longest grass runway in Northland at 1500m is located south of the township and is solely used for recreational purposes. 

Port and Maritime facilities and services

Northport; Marsden Point

The location of Northport at Marsden Point makes it the northern most multi-purpose port in New Zealand and the closest port to the majority of New Zealand’s international markets. The port facility totals 58 hectares of land, with over 30 hectares paved for cargo operations. It has 7,000m² of undercover area available, with a height capacity of eight metres for the storage of bulk break product.  A further 180 hectares of land outside the port is available for port related ventures.

The terminal is a flexible facility catering for large multi-purpose vessels; the current three berths are available for handling dry cargo vessels, with a total wharf length of 570 metres.  There is 13 metres of water available at chart datum at berths 1 and 2, and 14.5 metres at berth 3. The port also has consent for a fourth berth and has potential to expand to a fifth berth if required. The port is capable of handling containerised freight but currently does not have container cranes, with ships using their self-loading capability accordingly.

Northport is the only port in New Zealand to have extensive port and commercially zoned land, owned by its 50% shareholder Northland Port Corporation, available for future development on its boundary; protecting the port from urban encroachment and its associated working restrictions.

Far North District

Far North Holdings Limited (FNHL) owns and or operates the following maritime facilities:

  • Commercial Wharves: Opua, Paihia, Russell, Waitangi (Bay of Islands); Mangōnui (Doubtless Bay)
  • Recreational Wharves: Stone Store Kerikeri (Bay of Islands); Mangungu, Omapere, Opononi, Rawene, Te Karaka Point, The Narrows (Hokianga Harbour); Te Hapua (Parengarenga Harbour); Marlin (Whangaroa Harbour)
  • Boat Ramps and Jetties: Kaimarama Bay Ramp Rawhiti, Opito Bay Ramp, Opua Ramp, Rangitane Ramp, Russell Ramp, Tapeka Point Ramp, Te Haumi Ramp, Waipapa Landing, Waitangi Ramp (Bay of Islands); Hihi Beach Access, Mill Bay Ramp Mangōnui, Taipa Ramp and Jetty (Doubtless Bay); Horeke Ramp and Wharf, Kohukohu Ramp and Jetty, Rawene Ramp, Waitapu Ramp (Hokianga Harbour); Ratcliff Bay Ramp, Totara North Ramp (Whangaroa Harbour)
  • Car Ferry Ramps: Opua, Okiato (Bay of Islands)

Far North Holdings Limited also holds:

  • Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)  ‘Places of First Arrival’ authority for Opua under the Customs & Excise Act 1996 and the Biosecurity Act 1993 . This enables overseas cruising yachts to clear Customs at Opua providing a considerable boost to income generated within the area to boating services, restaurants, retail activities, tourism, in not only Opua but surrounding towns such as Paihia, Russell and Kerikeri.
  • Cruise ships authority under the Maritime Security Act 2004 which includes meeting the international standards for security. Two FNHL personnel hold Port Facility Security Officer status that enable cruise ships to anchor within Bay of Islands and disembark passengers to visit district-wide tourist attractions and to shop locally. The Waitangi Wharf was specifically designed and constructed for the disembarkation of cruise ship passengers. 37 cruise ship visits are expected for the 2012-2013 season

Kaipara District

The Northland Regional Council provides detail on boat ramp facilities for Kai Iwi Lakes, Kaipara Harbour and Mangawhai Harbour.

Whangarei District

Whangarei District Council maintains a number of boat ramps in their district which are suitable for launching recreational fishing and or pleasure craft 

Northland Regional Council

The Northland Regional Council has a Regional Harbourmaster and a region-wide maritime team who:

  • Carry out regular harbour patrols to make sure harbour users keep to the rules;
  • Make sure over 300 navigation aids are kept in good condition;
  • Respond to incidents reported by the public;
  • Respond to marine pollution incidents like oil spills;
  • Issue mooring licences;
  • Promote harbour safety; and
  • Help pilot ships safely into Northland harbours.

Northland marinas - there are currently six purpose-built marinas in Northland, ranging in size from 25–300 berths: Marsden Cove Marina (Whangarei Harbour); Opua Marina; Tutukaka Marina; Whangarei Town Basin; Whangaroa Harbour Marina. 

Northland moorings - the Regional Coastal Plan for Northland sets out specially designated mooring areas. Inside these areas, applications for new moorings are normally granted provided there is suitable space and water depth, and the design of the mooring meets the Northland Regional Council’s design specification requirements.  However, the majority of these areas are at full capacity. Outside these areas, more stringent environmental requirements also apply and resource consent for a new mooring is more difficult to obtain.

Public transport

Bus services (local)

The City Link Whangarei (Whangarei urban) bus service is operated by a commercial passenger transport service operator contracted to the Northland Regional Council. All buses operating on the subsidised passenger service are fitted with Euro 4 low emission motors.

Busabout Kaitaia provides public transport services in the Far North. Their buses run on 50% bio diesel which is made in CBEC’s own refinery from used cooking oil donated by local businesses. Initially the bus service was made possible with funding from the Ministry for the Environment’s Sustainable Management Fund. Busabout Kaitaia operates a number of scheduled daily services between Kaitaia and Ahipara, and Kaitaia and Mangōnui including some shoppers’ runs. Operating costs are met by ticket fares supplemented by a local targeted rating scheme. 

Bus services (regional)

Several companies provide regular scheduled passenger bus and coach services to, from and around the Northland region:

  • InterCity Group operates daily bus services from/to Paihia (Bay of Islands) and Whangarei, Kaitaia, Dargaville, Waipoua Forest and Auckland to connecting services throughout New Zealand.
  • is a low fare bus service operating from/to Paihia (Bay of Islands), Whangarei and Auckland.

Ferry services

There are three commercially operated ferry services in Northland:

  • Bay of Islands Vehicle Ferry

    Opua (approximately 7 minute drive from Paihia) : Okiato (approximately 10 minute drive from Russell) - operates as a shuttle service with crossings every 10 minutes (approximately) between the hours timetabled; suitable for all vehicles including trucks, buses, and campervans; tickets are purchased on board.

  • Bay of Islands Passenger Ferry

    Paihia : Russell - operates as a regular passenger ferry service throughout the day from the Paihia wharf to the opposite township of Russell; tickets can be pre-purchased or on board.

  • Hokianga Ferry

    Rawene : Kohukohu - passenger and vehicle.

Roads and Rail


There are 750 kilometres of State Highways in Northland with State Highway 1 (SH1) providing the main north-south inter-regional route to the Auckland region and beyond. State Highways 12 and 14 provide the main inter-district connections with 3 east-west connections and a north-south route up the western side of the region as far as Hokianga. State Highways 10 and 11 provide loop connections to the developing eastern coastal strip between the settlements of Paihia and Mangōnui and through to Awanui and Kaitaia. 

In addition there are 5,777 kilometres of local authority roads, 89% of the public road length, in Northland with both Far North and Kaipara Districts having comparatively large proportions of unsealed rural roads. There are 47 weight-restricted bridges on district roads throughout Northland which limits the operation of heavy vehicles at full load, 27 of which are in the Far North District.  


Northland’s rail network dates from the 19th century and started as a series of short lengths for local industrial purposes, which were eventually connected and extended to Auckland in 1925 and now known as the North Auckland Line (NAL). In these early years rail and coastal shipping were the main modes of travel around Northland and notably the road system was relatively undeveloped and remained so for some decades. The relative importance of rail has declined over the years as the road network has improved.

There are presently about eleven (freight only – logs, woodchip and shipping containers) trains per direction per week between Northland and Auckland, two trains per day on weekdays and one train on Saturday. Capacity is estimated at about eighteen trains per direction under the present constraints of operating speed, numbers of crossing points and general track maintenance requirements. Capacity could be readily increased with the addition of further crossing points and communication improvements, estimated at up to eight additional trains per day and more if other infrastructural changes were also made.   

The NAL originates at Westfield at Auckland and is used for mixed passenger and freight operations as far as Helensville. The NAL enters Northland at Ross Road, just south of Kaiwaka and close to SH1, and follows a route via Maungaturoto to Waiotira, where the Dargaville Branch Line joins, and then runs parallel with Mangapai Road to Oakleigh, Portland and Whangarei. North of Whangarei the line continues parallel with SH1 as far as Towai, then leads west and north to its now end point at Otiria.

A branch line to link Northport and Marsden Point with the NAL has been investigated a number of times over the past four decades. In late March 2009, a division of the then New Zealand Railways Corporation, publicly notified the ‘Notice of Requirement’ designation and associated resource consent applications for the preferred Oakleigh to Marsden Point link route. This route was chosen after an initial evaluation of options between 2002 and 2003 and further refinements made following further consultation processes between 2006 and 2008. Further progress has been postponed while KiwiRail investigates the economic viability of the Northland-Auckland rail line.


The Northpower network provides asset management and operational services for the company's power lines, substations and hydro-electric power station. Northpower owns the 5 megawatt Wairua hydro-electric power station near Titoki, contributing up to 24 of the 960 million units of electricity conveyed over Northpower’s network per year. Their lines network in the Whangarei and Kaipara Districts provides the infrastructure for energy companies to sell electricity to their respective customers.

Top Energy Limited is the local electricity generation and lines network company which supplies 30,000 electricity consumers in the Far North District. First established in 1935, the company is owned by its power consumers. Top Energy’s shares are held by the Top Energy Consumer Trust (formerly the Bay of Islands Electric Power Trust) on behalf of electricity consumers in the region. Top Energy’s Ngawha geothermal power station was first commissioned in 1998. Subsequent scientific investigation showed the plant’s output could be expanded without affecting Ngawha's geothermal field reservoir pressure. In late 2008, Top Energy completed its $77 million expansion of the original plant. Now with a capacity of 25 megawatts, the Ngawha Power Station’s output is fed into Top Energy’s network and then connected to the National Grid, via Top Energy's sub-station near Kaikohe. The Station consistently produces around 70% of all electricity consumed in the Far North, which reduces the community’s exposure to possible National Grid failures to the south.

Renewable electricity generation plants are being explored in Northland – marine tidal turbines for the mouth of the Kaipara Harbour; land based wind turbines for Pouto Peninsula, Ahipara, Glinks Gully and Baylys Beach.

The Government is currently funding the installation of ultra-fast broadband in Whangarei (the first area to receive the initiative in the country) through a local fibre company. Most of the Northland region has broadband but it is comparatively slow.

Nationally significant added-value industry

Oil refining

New Zealand’s only oil refinery, Refining NZ is located at Marsden Point immediately adjacent to Northport, Northland’s deep-water port facility and has the enviable reputation as one of Asia Pacific's safest and most reliable refineries. Crude oil is shipped in to the facility and refined into high quality transport fuels, supplying nationally: all jet fuel; nearly 80% of diesel; around half of all petrol; 75-85% of bitumen for roading; all fuel oil for ships; sulphur for farm fertiliser; and they even put the fizz in fizzy drinks. 

The refinery currently employs over 300 staff and for every job at the plant, they create another two in Northland and a further six across New Zealand. In 2011 the refinery celebrated 50 years of fuelling the country’s needs and keeping New Zealanders on the move. They were one of the first companies ever listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange and today Refining NZ is a solid investment for nearly 4,000 small and corporate investors. 

Refining NZ is a world-class reliable refinery with a long history of investment dating back to 1964. Since then the original plant has been expanded in the mid-1980s, in 2005 and most recently with the Point Forward Project in 2009. February 2012 saw a majority of Refining NZ s Board of Directors resolved to support an investment of NZ$365 million in a Continuous Catalyst Regeneration Platformer (the 'CCR Project'). The CCR Project will replace Refining NZ s existing petrol making plant (semi regeneration platformer) that has been in operation for around 50 years and which would otherwise require an investment of approximately NZ$105 million to extend its operational life beyond 2015. CCR technology is proven in the refining sector and used around the world.  It will enable the refinery to process more crude oil, and a wider range of crude's, more effectively and efficiently. Improved energy efficiency and reduced fuel losses will enable Refining NZ to also produce more oil products.  

Cement production

Golden Bay Cement is New Zealand's largest cement manufacturer and supplier. From their Portland manufacturing plant, a range of cement products are shipped to markets around New Zealand and the Pacific. Today's Golden Bay Cement had its origins in the earliest New Zealand cement manufacturing ventures in Northland in the 1870s. Following the closures of the Tarakohe plant in 1989 and the small Lee Valley plant in 1998, the company's manufacturing operations have been concentrated at Portland, 8km south of Whangarei. 

From Portland, bulk cement is distributed to Golden Bay Cement's eight customer service centres around New Zealand, and then trucked to customers. The company's supply ship, MV Golden Bay, maintains silos at five ports around New Zealand while the company's barge, CB Marsden Bay, runs cement into Auckland. Cement is bagged at various service centres for export and domestic customers. 

The company has been involved and supplier to a broad range of major infrastructure projects both in Auckland and New Zealand-wide, from: motorways and bridges; marine structures; sewers; airport runways; large hotel and convention facilities; wind farms; to sporting stadia.

Milk products

The Fonterra Kauri site in Northland was established in 1989 and produces about 123,000 tonnes of skim milk, whole milk and nutritional powders, speciality butters and anhydrous milk fats each year. The site can tailor-make products to match specific customer needs. It has two milk powder driers which can be vitamised (A, D, and C), fortified with iron and mineralised to suit various products. During the peak of the milk production season, Fonterra Kauri can process 3 million litres of milk per day – about 120 tanker loads by its fleet of 39 milk tankers. The cream plant produces 40,000 tonnes of cream products including 26,000 tonnes of speciality butters, and 14,000 tonnes of anhydrous milk fats per year.

Originally built in 1902, Fonterra's Maungaturoto site is one of the co-operative’s oldest. Fonterra Maungaturoto processes 2.1 million litres of milk per day, from 110,000 cows, during the peak of the milk production season. Each year, the site processes 247 million litres of milk. The site produces 35,000 tonnes per year, made up of whole milk powder, skim milk powder, butter milk powder, whey and casein for both the domestic and export markets.