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Hokianga Natural Wonders

Hokianga Harbour has so much adventure to offer its visitors. 

Journey deeper into our region by exploring the Twin Coast Discovery Highway touring route, and the 3 complementary road and water-based Northland Journeys that pass through our region.

Each 50 – 150km journey will beckon you off the beaten track and onto roads less travelled, to discover the hidden gems, local favourites, and must-visit places, while telling the stories of each region and our people.

Not to be hurried, each journey will deliver a half-to-full day of exploration, travelling the paths of our ancestors, along alluring coastal routes, and through spectacular natural landscapes.

Te Hokianga – nui-a-Kupe


Te Hokianga - 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 kauri forest of Waipoua,

a stunning reminder of the depth and dignity of Northland’s native bush.

Hokianga was named after the celebrated Polynesian navigator Kupe, the founding father of Maori lore and leaver of legends and landscapes bearing names.

The harbour 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 colour 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 1800’s.

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.

Lindsay Charman

Waipoua Forest


Tane Mahuta - Its Maori name means "Lord of the Forest"

Between Aranga and Waimamaku, on highway 12, this forest contains three quarters of New Zealand's remaining kauri trees. Within the forest's 2,500 hectares, there are a number of walking and tramping tracks, including a wheel-chair access to Tane Mahuta - Lord of the Forest one of the largest trees in the world: 51m. high, with a girth of over 13m.

Koutu Boulders


The boulders are up to 3 metres in diameter and just a walk on the beach between Koutu and Kauwhare points on the south shore of the Hokianga Harbour - one of the Hokianga’s better kept secrets.


It has been estimated that the largest of the boulders may have taken 5 million years to grow.

The boulders on the beach have been released from their soft host rock by erosion and simply rolled down and accumulated on the beach. Many people ask why they are spherical. The most likely explanation is that a small core rolled around on the sediment on the ocean floor and grew bigger much like a snowball does. You can see the core of many of the boulders that have split in half.


If you would like to walk among the boulders, head about 6 Km towards Kaikohe from Opononi, and you will find Koutu Loop Road on your left. If you are coming from the North or East, head about 10 Km past the Rawene turnoff towards Opononi, through the settlement of Whirinaki and at the foot of the saddle on the Opononi side you will see Koutu Loop Road on your right.

Wairere Boulders 

Where the boulders came from : 

Around 2.8 million years ago a volcano at the site of Lake Omapere erupted. This eruption was so huge that a basalt lava flow was spread across a massive area, that extended to Horeke. In fact there may have been multiple eruptions that extended this far resulting in a deep basalt layer around 30m thick.

This basalt lava flow started to crack as the ground beneath it was eroded over time by the action of rain. The Wairere stream formed, widening the gap below the basalt crust, so more and more chunks of basalt broke off. The boulders started to move towards the valley floor. The underlying soil was clay and as this washed away from under the boulders they moved further down the valley, finally ending up at the valley floor in the river. It has taken the boulders 2.8 million years to get from the top of the hill to the positions they lie in today.

The Sand Dunes

Rangi Point on the northern part of the Hokianga Harbour mouth there are spectacular sand dunes. Access can be gained from the South side by boat across the Hokianga Harbour with the Hokianga Express leaving from the wharf in Opononi, and also on land from Mitimiti (15 km drive along beach).

Rangi Point on the northern part of the Hokianga Harbour mouth there are spectacular sand dunes. Access can be gained from the South side by boat across the Hokianga Harbour with the Hokianga Express leaving from the wharf in Opononi, and also on land from Mitimiti (15 km drive along beach).

In the back towards the Tasman Sea are deep canyons. Just do not stand right on the edge, they can breake off and you will never be seen again!

Mitimiti Beach 

Mitimiti has one of the most remote beaches you can find on the planet. If you want to forget the rest of the world, this is the place to be.

These Beaches are at the same time wild, violent, thundering rough while being calm, cool, peaceful relaxing to experience.


The Hokianga also became home to one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most moving stories of connection and community with the sinking of the SS Ventnor. Tragically, with the ship, sank the remains of almost 500 Chinese gold miners who had died in Aotearoa New Zealand, and were being returned home to China.

In 2007, more than 100 years later, a chance meeting connected the Chinese descendant community with the people of Te Roroa and Te Rarawa, and the special bond between the two peoples continues today.

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