Theres a nice walk along the coast from the Hokianga harbour heads past the signal point that takes you to a blow hole - you can find out from the locals, particularly the milk bar/grocery shop thats at the bottom of the huge hill in Omapere or the one thats in Opononi to get an idea of the tides and maximise your visit to the blowhole by going when its full tide.
(there are calendars with the high tide times on them)
Take care of course and particularly if you have children with you and wear sturdy shoes for the rocky areas.
On the way to our accommodation in Omapere we were looking for the Koutu Boulders along the waterfront of Hokianga Harbour.
We did find the Koutu Loop Road (about 5 km's south of Opononi on Highway 12), but did not succeed in finding these huge rock balls, being one of the secrets of Hokianga. But we discovered Koutu Beach, a rocky beach with a splendid view on the Sand Dunes north of the Hokianga Harbour.
During our visit (around Christmas time) there were some huge flowering pohutukawa's on the beach.
We did take Waione Road, a gravel side-road of Koutu Loop and at the end parked our car. There is the access to the beach. If you are interested (also) in the boulders perhaps 'get the right info from the Visitor Information Centre in Omapere.
We took a detour around the Hokianga Harbour to the Wairere Boulders and found this gem of a valley tucked away between bush and farmland, along a gorgeous river, what a superb location - this was the true New Zealand we were looking for! First we were greeted by friendly chickens and then the lovely owners welcomed us and said we shouldn't miss the top viewpoint. There is also a very informative exhibition inside a farming shed about the formation of the boulders and much more.
The track follows the river upstream and soon the boulders begin, together with the tree ferns and other trees it feels like an exotic jungle or filming location. Lots of adventurous bridges and steps on the way, all the way to the top and true, the view should not be missed! Really weird how all those huge rocks collapsed upon each other - apparently this is unique in the world. Great stop to stretch your legs!
Opononi and Omapere:
Just two little towns at the beautiful Hokianga Harbour. Opononi is famous for 'Opo', a dolphin who lived in the harbour in 1955. There is a small monument of 'Opo' the dolphin.
The village is also starting point for a visit to the huge sand dunes on the other side of the harbour.
We had great views on these 'golden dunes' and the Hokianga Harbour from a look-out called: Arai-Te-Uru. Accessible from a car park at the end of the Signal Station Road near Omapere. Walking further from Signal Point will bring you to a blow hole.
This 'Signal Point' offers excellent views of Tasman Sea at sunset.
The Wairere Boulders are situated near Horeke, a small village along the Hokianga Harbour (with the oldest post office of New Zealand). The village is accessible from both Highway 1 and Highway 12 between Opononi and Kaikohe.
After our lunch in the local pub of Horeke we did take the Horeke (gravel) Road and after a couple of km's we found the car park for the boulders on McDonnell Road. We did get a lot of information from the friendly Swiss owners about the boulders before we started our walk through the park.
We just did the Boulder Loop Track on the right and left side of the Wairere Stream. We had to climb many stairs and small bridges with stunning views on the huge basalt rocks. They are coming down the valley like a fall of rocks.
On the other side of the river is a short loop track, which leads to the so called Bush Pool. And we crossed a real big stand of Nikau Palms (New Zealands only native palm) and other native trees. Along the track are also notice boards.
The track is about 3 km's of length and we had a very pleasant and interesting walk of about 1 hour in this Nature Park.
The entrance fee was (12.2005) NZD. 10,- pp.
Before or after crossing Hokianga Harbour stay a little while in Rawene, a cute village on the southern side of Hokianga Harbour.
Rawene offers a lot of old buildings, dating back to the early settler period. And driving or walking through this village it is obvious the people are proud of their history and the historic buildings. Most famous is the kauri homestead of Clendon House, built in 1860 and now open for visitors (in summer only).
Just stroll along the water side with some buildings built over the water, visit the local shops or have a cup of coffee or tea in one of the café’s or restaurants.
Once in the north, of course you have to visit the huge kauri trees, which you will find everywhere in the Waipoua Forest.
Most impressive is the tree called: Tane Mahuta (God of the Forest). It is one of the most ancient trees in the world with an age of about 2000 years. Incredible and very impressive !!!
You feel so tiny in front of a trunk with a girth of 14 metres.
But there is more in the park. For instance four kauri's together: called the Four Sisters or just make a walk in this typical New Zealand forest.
(Walking) maps and more information available in the Visitor Information Centre, Waipoua River Road, about 1 km from SH12.
Opononi is about 3 kms down the road from Omapere, and its main claim to fame was in 1955 when a lone dolphin made its home in the bay and became so tame that it played ball games with children and they could also ride on its back...it was called Opo and it achieved a high level of fame and was much loved, but was found dead a few months later, cause unknown. So, in the small town with just a couple of shops (including the Opo takeaway shop with a dolphin model on the top) there is a monument overlooking Opononi's pier to Opo the dolphin.
After we'd settled into our backpackers, we took a 5 minute drive back into the tiny village township of Omapere, where we explored the beach, just behind the beachfront Visitor Information centre....we also came across a 4x4 sand driving, seemingly a rental car by the way they were driving into some of the waves!
After visiting the giant Kauri forests, we drove back via Omapere again, and this is the view we had just before descending back into the town.
We even found a rooster and some hens wandering around in the carpark, though there doesn't seem to be any sign of habitation nearby...it's the third time we'd come across such 'free free range' hens!
The tallest giants (largest Kauri trees in NZ) are Tane Mahuta
Trunk height 17.7 mts, total height 51.5 mts, trunk girth, 13.8 mts
Next is a short drive a bit further on, then about a 20 minute walk to see Te Matua Ngahere (Father of the Forest) - girth 16.41 mts, height 29.9 mts, (trunk height 10.21 mts)
If you are driving make sure you stop at the top of the huge hill heading in or out of Omapere for a great view of the harbour before you with stunning huge dunes behind.
If you are not taking the opportunity to get around in your own wheels but are in town for a while then take a walk up this hill - there are streets in the omapere village that head up the centre of the hill to a road that runs way up along the top and comes out at the main road at the top of the hill - makes an excellent walk with grande views!!
See the whole Hokianga Harbour before you from an ideal lookout point. Whether great weather or grey stormy weather!! but even more Spectacular on a lovely sunny day. Great views across to the sand dunes and Miti Miti on the other side of the harbour - and even watch the cattle as we did on our last visit in a line along the beach below the dunes.
The old signal station was here stationed above the harbour heads.
Lovely clean white soft sand. sit and relax on it. go for a walk on it. collect shells and interesting bits of drift wood that you will find along the way.
Special!? because i have memories of being there with my Grandmother and other members of my family.