Life as an F3 doctor in Northland, New Zealand
Moving abroad as a junior doctor can be scary, so knowing what to expect before you take a new job is really important. Here, we’ll take a closer look at Northland in New Zealand to help you decide if it’s a good fit for your F3 year in Australia or New Zealand.
Where is Northland?
Size: At just under 14,000 square kilometers, Northland covers a little over five per cent of New Zealand's land mass. Located on the northernmost tip of New Zealand, Northland is flanked by the Tasman Sea to the West and the Pacific Ocean to the East.
Population: Northland has a small population of just under 189,000. Perfect if you are looking for an escape from hectic city life. Whangarei is Northland’s largest city and home to 50% of the region’s inhabitants. But with a population of just over 52,000 it is much smaller than many of New Zealand’s major cities.
Weather: Northland is a subtropical region, with warm, humid summers and mild, wet winters. With 2025 hours of sunshine a year, Kiwis refer to the region as “the winterless north.” The average, year-round temperature in the region is 20 °C. Typical summer temperatures range from 22 – 30 °C, whilst, winter temperatures range from 12 – 17 °C. This makes Northland warmer, on average than Wellington whose summer temperature ranges from 13 - 21 °C.
Connectivity: Auckland is 158km to the south of Whangarei, and can be reached in just over two hours by car. Intercity run regular buses from Whangarei to Auckland Central, fares start from around 31.00 NZ$ (£16) for a single journey. Air New Zealand also runs four flights per day between Whangarei and Auckland. Fares start from 109 NZ$ (£54) for a return flight.
What is there to do in Northland?
Life in Northland offers unspoilt coastline and a relaxed pace of life; an ideal place to relocate after completing your foundation training as an F2 doctor. Northland is a culturally diverse area, with a large Maori population. The region has many culturally significant Maori sites such as Tāne Mahuta, New Zealand's largest living Kauri tree, located in the heart of the spectacular Waipoua forest. Perfect for culture and nature lovers alike.
Visit Cape Reinga lighthouse. Located at New Zealand's northernmost point, where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide, the lighthouse takes in panoramic views of the northern coast. Tours to the lighthouse also take in nearby Ninety-Mile beach, which offers fishing, surfing and even sand-dune bodyboarding for the adventurous.
Northland is the perfect place to explore New Zealand's natural beauty. The region is home to many hiking trails, such as Cape Brett Walkway, which covers native forest and dramatic cliffs. For an easier hike, try climbing Mount Manaia which offers excellent views over Whangarei harbour, towards the city. Take a weekend to explore the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, which stretches 87km from the east to the west coast, and takes in some of New Zealand's earliest Maori settlements. And for those looking for a more sedate pace of life, The Bay of Islands is a popular destination for dolphin watching, sailing and fine dining.
Community is important in Northland, and the region offers a wide range of festivals, markets and events that bring people together. Every Saturday morning, Whangarei hosts Bay of Islands Farmers' Market, the perfect spot to pick up sustainable, locally grown produce and get to know the locals. The Old Packhorse Market is held every Saturday and Sunday in KeriKeri. Alongside food, drink and artisan products, the market hosts weekly music performances, making it the perfect place to enjoy Northland's hospitality.
For music and culture-lovers, Mangonui annual waterfront festival showcases food & drink, arts and entertainment. Dimension festival is a four-day electronic music and arts festival, featuring three stages, swimming and camping. For those wanting to learn more about Northland's Maori heritage, a trip to Waitangi Treaty Grounds is a must. This award-winning attraction tells the story of the Waitangi Treaty, and offers authentic Maori experiences.
Serenity Café located on the Quayside in Whangarei, is a great spot for a laid back brunch. Map.
The Little Kitchen Café serves breakfast, brunch and dinner (including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options) in a light airy space on Mangonui waterfront. Map.
Nectar Cafe has been voted the best in Whangarei five times, and serves vegetarian food, coffee and fresh juices. Map.
The Butter Factory in Whangarei offers a large selection of craft beers and food, including vegetarian and vegan options. At night, there are music and live events in the gig space. Map.
The Mangawhai Tavern in Mangawhai is worth a visit for its stunning waterfront views and seafood menu. There’s also live music, with weekly gigs during the summer. Map.
Mangonui Fish Shop has been serving Northlanders for over 70 years. Expect local, freshly caught fish and cold beers. Map.
Topsail offers contemporary New Zealand cuisine and is situated on Whangarei harbour. Their locally sourced menu offers seafood and traditional Kiwi dishes. Map.
Split bar and restaurant offers great food in a relaxed setting. They offer locally sourced seafood and a range of craft beers. Map.
Sage at Paroa Bay Winery is situated in a beautiful location above the Bay of Islands. Its menu features some of the freshest and most sustainable seafood you’ll find in Northland and a great selection of local wines. Map.
Kane Bahar is perfect if you’re craving curry. Their reasonably priced menu offers vegetarian options and home delivery service. Map.
How does the cost of living compare?
Cost of living in Northland's main city, Whangarei, is similar to that of nearby Auckland. While living costs in more rural parts of Northland are cheaper than in the cities, you can expect to pay around 20 NZ$ for a meal in an inexpensive restaurant. Cost of groceries in Whangarei are similar to Auckland, 1 litre of milk costs 2.60 NZ$ and expect to pay around 9 NZ$ for a beer. A one-way ticket on local transport costs 2.75 NZ$, while a 1km taxi journey costs 2.66 NZ$. 1 litre of gasoline costs 2.15 NZ$. Car owners should factor in the required car warrant of fitness (50 NZ$ per year) and car registration(90 NZ$ per year for a medium-size car). Bus rides in urban areas range from 2-10 NZ$ for an adult fare.
Rent per Month
Apartment (1 bedroom in city centre) 1,200 NZ $ (£573)
Apartment (1 bedroom outside of city centre) 1,060 NZ $ (506
Apartment (3 bedrooms in city centre) 2,000 NZ $ (£957)
Apartment (3 bedrooms outside of city centre) 1,800 NZ$ (£861)
House rental prices in Whangarei are 59% lower than in Auckland. The price of grocery shopping and eating in restaurants, however, is roughly the same in both Whangarei and Auckland. You can find a full comparison of living costs between the two cities here. You can find more information on general living costs in Northland here.
What are the local hospitals?
As a trainee doctor, Northland has four public hospitals for your F3 year abroad.
Whangarei hospital is Northland’s largest and provides secondary specialist care to the whole region. Including 7 surgical theatres, an emergency medicine department and a 7-bed urgent care and high dependency unit.
Bay of Islands hospital specialises in paediatric services and provides a substantial community health service.
Dargaville hospital specialises in maternity and also offers a 12 bed general ward, alongside community health services.
Kaitaia hospital has a 26 bed general ward, maternity and paediatric wards as well as GP and outpatients services.
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