Itinerary N12

From Kohukohu to Kaitaia via the West Coast

This trip starts at Kohukohu or the northern Ferry terminal. Travel west along West Coast Road, past the remains of the Motukaraka Dairy factory and follow the road to Panguru. Just before you get to Panguru, look for Runaruna Road on your right.

This metalled road winds and climbs for several km, and eventually joins the sealed road that is the Twin Coast Highway from Broadwood to Ahipara. The quicker, but less interesting way to reach this point, is to travel from Kohukohu to Broadwood and on.

At the junction, turn left and follow the signs to Pawarenga. This road leads you down to the south shore of the Whangape Harbour, past several churches and Marae, until at its end you come to the Harbour’s edge.

Turn up the side road to your left and you will come to St. Gabriel’s Church. The church dates from 1899, but in the grave yard you will find interesting and unusual headstones that record several burials within a family. Notable are two women who lived for over 100 years.

Beyond the church towards the Harbour entrance is the monument to the Aupori tribe. The story of their escape from invading Ngapuhi is fascinating.

Whangape Harbour is shaped a bit like a key hole, with a long fiord-like entrance opening up to a well sheltered harbour. The settlement of Whangape is on the North side. On the south side of the entrance is a walkway known as the Golden Staircase.

Return the way you came and when you reach the seal turn left towards ‘Ahipara’. On the way you will pass Herekino, another small harbour with connections to early European settlement. The settlement of Herekino and the Harbour is only a short detour to the left.

Ahipara, which means ‘sacred fire’, is the southern end of Ninety Mile beach, which is actually only 64 km long and was in earlier times a base for the gum digging industry.

From Ahipara follow the signs to Kaitaia, which is the principal town in the Far North.

From Kaitaia you have several options:

  • Return to Kohukohu via either SH 1 through the Mangamuka Gorge, turning right at Mangamuka Bridge, or more directly via Broadwood.
  • Complete the circular route through Awanui, Doubtless Bay, Kaeo, Kaikohe and back to Rawene.
  • Stay overnight and do the coach trip to cape Reinga, and then return.