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new zealand / Hokianga

related: māori
flickrgroup: Ecotourism Oceania
editing: North Island

Māori name: Te Hokianga-a-Kupe

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A harbour with a history; guarded at the sea by sandbars and solid rock; a seascape of luminous dunes and tides. It is a beautiful place. If you come by SH 12 from the south you travel through the ancient Waipoua Forest, a stunning reminder of the depth and dignity of Northland’s native bush.

FYI - Waipoua is named after the poua, a large pipi that tastes like a toheroa.

More about this amazing forest below. Hokianga was named after the celebrated Polynesian navigator Kupe, the founding father of Maori lore and leaver of legends and landscapes bearing names. The harbor starts at Arai Te Uru, ancestral mother of eleven sons, each a valley leading to the tidal stream, a gathering of rivers merging as a sweep of currents and flows of color and form. Over time, the Tangata Whenua, the ‘people of the land’, shaped the surrounding hills with pa sites and gardens creating a vast homeland reaching into the mountainous heart of Northland.

It was a haven fiercely protected, yet shared amongst generations of Maori for centuries, until the first Europeans were welcomed for barter and trade in the early 1800s. It is a long time since fleets of waka stirred the water; the sailing ships are well and truly gone; but the Hokianga ferry still makes her graceful way across the tides, showing off the handsome harbour for all to see.These days, along the waterfronts and hidden in the hills, small towns and communities offer the traveller insights into the quieter side of life. It is a glimpse of something precious; a living past, splendid in a wilderness of great beauty.

Location: Three hours drive North of on the West Coast and a one hour drive from the Bay of Islands on the East Coast and Dargaville in the South West.

Hokianga Townships

The giant Kauri trees of the Waipoua Forest act as the southern sentinels for both the Far North district and the historic Hokianga Harbour - the undisputed jewel of Northland’s west coast.Known also as Te Kohanga o Te Tai Tokerau (the nest of the northern tribes), it is the central point from which most Northland Maori trace their ancestry. Hokianga is home to a number of historic missionary settlements dating back as far as 1827. Settlement is predominantly closely associated with the harbour and its adjoining coastal valleys.

In the south, well maintained tracks give access to Waipoua forest giants like 1400-year-old Tane Mahuta and 2000-year-old Te Matua Ngahere. Other forest walks include Yakas Track Lookout Walk and the Waiotemarama Kauri and waterfall walk. Coastal walks such as Signal Station Walk provide both a sense of history and awesome views of the coast, harbour and sand dunes up to 300 metres high. State Highway 12 is the west coast link between the Far North and Kaipara districts, and is the main west coast tourist route. For the visitor there is plenty to do and see, including horse treks, a craft trail, carving, a maze, a distinctive boulder valley, bush walks, sand dunes, fishing, boating, harbour cruises, guided night bush walks, swimming and golf.Visitor numbers have been increasing steadily in recent years and many of them use the Council’s ferry service as a direct link across the harbour. The Council also operates an i-SITE Visitor Information Centre at Opononi. The vehicle ferry provides a fast, comfortable trip across the Hokianga Harbour. It travels between Rawene and the Narrows near Kohukohu.

Omapere and Opononi

The twin settlements of Omapere and Opononi, near the Hokianga Harbour entrance have a resident population which is boosted substantially in the summer season by day visitors, the tourist trade, and holiday-home owners. Omapere and Opononi are gateways to the Hokianga Harbour for visitors to the district from the south. The Council operates an i-SITE visitor information centre at Opononi. Opononi was made internationally famous in the 1950s by Opo the dolphin who took up residence in the sheltered harbour waters and intermingled freely with the local community.


Pakanae, two kilometers from Opononi, is a small historic Maori settlement. Outside Pakanae marae stands a monument to Kupe the legendary Maori explorer who discovered New Zealand. Kupe is believed to have settled in the Pakanae area before his journey to Hawaiki to encourage the migration of the Maori people to this land. The legend of Kupe gave rise to the claim that Hokianga is the true cradle of New Zealand settlement.


Waimamaku was originally best known for its world famous cheeses. A small rural town, an annual attraction is the Waimamaku Wild Fest.


Rawene is New Zealand’s third oldest European settlement and in the early 19th century grew with the development of the coastal trade in timber. The oldest building is the historic Clendon House. Rawene is home to the only public hospital facility in the Hokianga/Kaikohe area, and the base for ancillary medical services for the Hokianga district. It is also the base for Northland Polytech education services in the area. Rawene was originally the headquarters for the former Hokianga County Council. The Far North District Council continues to maintain a service centre, hall, pensioner units, library facility and a mangrove walkway in the township. The Rawene mangrove walkway was built as a community project to allow people to get close to the mangroves and historic sites. The walkway is built on the site of a century old timber mill and box factory and provides visitors with a fascinating view of a unique and valuable wetland habitat. The stop bank which forms some of the walk was made of Sydney rocks used as ballast by the ships exporting kauri timber. The mangrove walkway is open all year, free of charge and has wheelchair access.


Horeke is the second oldest European settlement in New Zealand, which as early as 1826 was host to a once thriving ship-building industry; in fact the first mechanical timber mill was in Horeke. Horeke was called Deptford in the olden days and was the oldest settlement in the Hokianga. As well as being the home of the Mangungu Mission House and world famous Wairere Boulders, it is also the site of the first Post Office of New Zealand, the oldest pub and some of the oldest graves in New Zealand.


Established in the 1820s, Kohukohu developed and prospered in the timber trade and at one time was the largest social and cultural centre in the north. A number of well-preserved 19th century kauri wood colonial buildings still remain from Kohukohu’s economic heydays. The first power timber mill was built in Kohukohu in 1879 and operated until about 1886. This year also saw the start of a regular steamship service between Kohukohu and Auckland. In 1888 the Kauri Timber Co. re-established milling operations and developed what was to become the largest mill in the Southern Hemisphere. In 1909 the mill closed down and in 1912 it was demolished. Over this 30-year period milling and the timber trade was the basis of the local economy. In later years Kohukohu has been largely dependent for employment on the farming hinterland and ferry access across the harbour.


Panguru is the home to a small, mainly Maori population whose most famous daughter of the modern era was Dame Whina Cooper. Farming and exotic forestry are the most predominant economic activities today.


The Hokianga Co-operative Dairy Co. opened a factory in Motukaraka in 1908 providing the Hokianga with its two main sources of employment – with the mill in Kohukohu. Farming and exotic forestry remain the most predominant economic activities in the area today.


Whangape is a quiet little settlement with rolling hills and a coastal boundary. Unknown to many this community has a hidden treasure “The Golden Stairs Walkway”, which takes its name from the spectacular display of Kowhai flowering in spring. The walkway commences just past Pawarenga along the eastern shores of the entrance to Whangape harbour with an additional entrance from Mitimiti along the beach. Care needs to be taken along the ridge track, Beautiful views inland and over the coastal slopes of the Warawara Forest. The forest contains native flora and fauna and the natural beauty of the untouched land.

Park Proposal

Kauri National Park proposal - map

Hokianga's iSITE Centre

Visit to view the blurb and picture.


By Coach
Intercity Coachlines from Auckland to Paihia (Bay of Islands). Intercity Coachlines have a morning Awesome NZ Crossings Hokianga tour service from Paihia to Hokianga and return if applicable. Two pax minimum is required.

Magic Coachlines from Auckland to Paihia (Bay of Islands). This service returns to Auckland via Hokianga the next morning.
Confirm departure days with Magic.

Main Coachlines from Auckland to Dargaville. See

By Taxi & Shuttles from Paihia and Dargaville
From Paihia (Bay of Islands) See

By Car Rental
Payless Rentals Manukau is a budget rental company owned by Maori from Hokianga.

By Air
Auckland is the main international gateway for travel to Northland. There are three Northland airports at Whangarei, Kerikeri (Bay of Islands) and Kaitaia, with regular scheduled services to and from Auckland. Visit for Air New Zealand information and for a Northland air charter company. To get to Hokianga from all airports you will require a taxi or shuttle service.

Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga
Opononi Resort Hotel
Waipoua Forest Camp Ground
Mahinapua Hotel

Footprints Waipoua
Day and Night guided walks of the Waipoua forest

Footrprints Waipoua is featured in Lonely Planet's publication Code Green; Experiences of a Lifetime. Click on the below link for more information.

The Waipoua Forest preserves some of the best examples of kauri forest remaining in New Zealand. It is notable for having two of the largest living kauri trees, Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere. Te Matua Ngahere - the 'Father of the Forest' - has a trunk over five meters in diameter, believed to go be the widest girth of any Kauri tree in New Zealand.

Tree News
Two of the world’s oldest trees could help bring more Japanese visitors to New Zealand. The two trees - Waipoua Forest’s giant kauri Tane Mahuta and Jomon Sugi, a giant cedar on Yakushima Island off the coast of Japan - have brought the two countries closer in a ground-breaking ‘Family of Ancient Trees’ agreement to be signed in Northland.

Related Waipoua Forest websites

Crossings Hokianga
Guided day and night cruises of the Hokianga harbour

Hokianga Express
Sand boarding and fishing charters

Tourism Motuti
Marae day and overnight experiences

Hokianga Bonecarving Studio

Sandtrails Hokianga

Fern River Horse Trekking

Waka Ama - Footprints can put you in touch with the right person

Hunting - Footprints can put you in touch with the right person

Tree planting - With Te Roroa or the Waipoua Forest Trust

Hokianga Outdoor Adventure - Personal or Team building (No website but contact Footprints Waipoua for more information)

Nestled in the picturesque west coast village of Matakohe, Northland, The Kauri Museum is one of New Zealand’s most amazing theme museums. Open 9.00am to 5.00pm daily (closed Christmas Day).

Arts & Crafts
The Heart Trail - Ara te Manawa
A collective Hokianga arts group

Heritage & History
New Zealand Historic Places Trust
Mangungu Mission House
Clendon House -

October 2-4 - Hokianga Country Music Festival
May 15, 2011 - Waipoua forest Fun Run & Walk Event

Other Services

Hokianga Information Centre

Hokianga Tourism Association
Experience Hokianga (Hokianga Marketing Group - Website under construction)

Famous Hokianga Personalities
Dame Whina Cooper
Opo the Dolphin
Rawiri Paratene
Ralph Hotere
Gordon Toi

Elsewhere on the Web
Experience Hokianga
Read about the coast-to-coast cycleway to link Hokianga and the Bay of Islands in the Far North.
Northland: Northern lights

Northland Consultation
Kauri National Park S8 Investigation 1992 (PDF, 3991K)
Kauri National Park S8 Investigation 1992 - Appendices (PDF, 3571K)
Investigation into the Proposal for a Kauri National Park in Northland - NZCA Interim Report 1995 (PDF, 2579K)

Northland Videos

Related Northland websites
Destination Northland – Regional Tourism Organisation
35°39′S 173°33′E

Recommended listening: Spectrum

Koro Carman runs Footprints Waipoua which includes a spine-tingling night-time visit to the giant kauri Tane Mahuta in the Waipoua Forest. Koro says he started his company to create jobs for locals. He now employs over half a dozen and has expansion plans.

As the stars shine through the spreading branches above, tourists are treated to karakia and waiata from the powerful voices of Koro and his guides. Along the way, they learn a little about what the forest flora and fauna mean to Maori.

Click here for Footprints Waipoua & Cossings Hokianga Newsletter

Hokianga and Waipoua Forest on Australias Getaway Travel Programme
Hokianga and the Waipoua forest featured on Australia’s Getaway programme in May. See the programme by clicking on the following link:

The famous Wairere Boulders features on New Zealand TV

Click on the following link for more information


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