Dargaville is one of the two places where you can see some remains of the Rainbow Warrior without the need of diving. Whereas the wreck of the Greenpeace ship which was sunk by French Secret Service agents lies off the Cavalli Islands in the Bay of Islands, the original masts are displayed in front of the Dargaville Museum in Harding Park.
The Rainbow Warrior - the first of several Greenpeace ship of this name - was used as a support vessel for Greenpeace protest activities against seal hunting, whaling and nuclear weapons testing during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In early 1985 she was in the South Pacific and travelled to New Zealand to lead a flotilla of yachts protesting against French nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia.
What followed was what we today would call state terrorism, and it put France to shame for many years.
The Rainbow Warrior was sabotaged and sunk just before midnight on 10 July 1985 by two explosive devices attached to the hull by agents of the French secret service DGSE. One of the twelve people on board, photographer Fernando Pereira, drowned when he attempted to retrieve his equipment.
Already two days later two of the six bombers were arrested and later sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison. The others fled to Norfolk Island and could not be arrested for lack of evidence. In September 1985 the French prime minister Laurent Fabius admitted that French agents had sunk the boat on orders. Anyway, France put NZ under pressure to release the two imprisoned agents by threatening to block NZ exports to the now European Union.
In a deal, presided by the UN Secretary-General France agreed to pay compensation of NZ$13 million to NZ and apologise. In return the two agents should be detained at the French military base on Hao atoll for three years. However, the two spies had both returned to France by May 1988, after less than two years on the atoll.
In 1987, under heavy international pressure, the French government paid $8.16 million to Greenpeace.
On the 20th anniversary of the sinking it was revealed that French president François Mitterrand himself had given authorisation for the bombing.
THIS MUSEUM IS FANTASTIC. At the museum, you will see the WORLD'S LARGEST KAURI SLAB and also giantic rings of the LARGEST KNOWN KAURI. There are murals, pioneering scenes, beautiful polished furniture including the Govenor Generals boardroom table. What was very interesting, was the working models. The people operating the machinery were copied from photos of years ago. So clever! Leave yourself some time to have a look around as there is a lot to see and read about. It is set out in different sections and follows the story of the pioneers through the story of the Kauri tree.
Thoroughly recommend this museum. It is very well done. EXCELLENT!
Opening hours are 9 - 5 and admission in 2008 is $15.
It is open 7days a week.
Please have a look at the website, it will give you a lot more information.
These falls feel like they are right in the city, they are so close. The falls are 26metres high, and fall over a balsat cliff. Nice parkland, and stepping stones across the Hatea river so that you can walk the loop. Its and easy track to walk, and the falls are really nice.
Whangarei is considered to be the capital of Northland. It is situated along SH1 from Auckland to the north. An ideal stopover on your way to the Bay of Islands or Cape Reinga. But the city and its surroundings offer a lot more.
The Town Basin is located in the heart of the city along the Hatea River. Here you will find art galleries, crafts, speciality shops, cafe's and restaurants. Ideal spot for a coffee, lunch or diner on one of the sidewalk cafe's. The Claphams Clocks are also situated in the Town Basin.
'Downtown' Whangarei is another shopping centre, even with a pedestrian mall. Boutiques, department stores, pubs and restaurants are waiting for you.
Five km’s north of the city (on the way to Tutukaka) are the Whangarei Falls. These falls are 25 metres high and are one of the most beautiful in New Zealand. There is a loop track, starting at the car park.
Whangarei is also gateway for visiting one of the really lovely beaches north (Tutukaka Coast) or south (Bream Bay) of the city. Tutukaka is starting point for diving trips at the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, a world famous dive spot.
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.
Although the weather was not perfect we very much enjoyed our boat trip to Kawau Island and historic Mansion House (near Warkworth, north of AKL).
As we just had some rain and drizzle and later in the day even the sun came through, we walked around the whole island. You can even stay there, as there are cottages, a lodge and a campground for accommodation.
A nice way of travelling to Kawau Island is a cruise called the Royal Mail Run which is now operated by Reubens Water Taxis & Excursions. Daily departure from Sandspit at 10.30am. You cruise the gulf and pass several small islands where mail, goods and passengers are dropped off. The locals are waiting on the jetties for their deliveries.
Whether you take this leisurely approach or the direct trip, you will surely end up at the beautiful white Mansion House which was home to Governor Sir George Grey from 1862 to 1888. He transformed the former mine manager's house into a stately mansion, and created a park with exotic plants and animals (wallabies, wekas, peacocks etc.) around it, as you find it now.
This mine manager's house had been built in 1845 after copper had been discovered on the island five years earlier. This BTW was NZ's first export product. The island had been uninhabited when Rev. Samuel Marsden set foot on it in 1820.
In 1904 Mansion House was opened as a guest house, and 1979 - after extensive restoration - opened to the public. It is beautifully decorated with furniture, rugs, china, crockery etc. of the era. The rooms look as if the owners had just left five minutes ago and could come back any moment, the tables laid. No TV LOL - but now with a nice restaurant where you can have lunch or dinner (not overly expensive).
Although only 10% of the island are not privately owned there are walkways all over the island. You can walk through native forest, past the typical red brick chimneys and towers of old copper mines, rugged coastline, lots of bays, smooth inlets and sandy beaches.
Trounson Kauri Park is one of the not so very well-known Kauri Parks in Northland. As it comes before the famous Waipoua Forest with all the giant kauri like Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere and is a little drive away from SH12 there are a lot less visitors.
But - it is well worth the visit. And not just for the kauri.
In this area they eradicate bird predators like possums, rats, weasels, wildcats, etc., and dogs are forbidden, bird life is thriving. And best: It has become a haven for the Northern Brown Kiwi. Sure, as they are nocturnal under normal circumstances you will not spot them when passing there at daytime. But nighttours are on offer. They start at the Kauri Coast Holiday Park (ph. 0800 807 200 and 09 439 0621, Email: email@example.com). If you are lucky you spot a kiwi. At least you should hear their call.
Also during daytime the walk is very nice. It leads through the forest on boardwalks, so you do not damage the delicate root system of the trees. There are quite a number of signs from which you can learn the names of the other tree species of the forest, and there are even trees with a kind of doors. When you open them you can look into the tree through a glass plate - and if you are lucky you can see wetas and other residents of the trees (we were not...). Not to forget the nice birdsong all over the place.
Projects like Trounson Kauri Park are called "Mainland Islands". This forest covers 450 hectares. The project started in 1995. The park was already opened in 1921, and is named after James Trounson, an early settler, who donated parts of the land.
From Trounson Kauri Park we did not drive back to SH12, as we were heading back to Paihia on that trip. The inland route on unsealed roads to Kaikohe were not really worth the detour... ;-)
This little ferry not only saves you a lot of time on your trip to or from 90 Mile Beach but also leads you through a rough and very remote area of an already remote region.
The ferry crosses the Hokianga Harbour from Rawene in the south to Kohukohu on the northern side. It operates every 30 to 60 mins. Timetable on the below listed website - but you just arrive and wait for your turn. In Rawene you can do this in the very nice Boatshed Café, built on stilts above the water, with sun terrace. The only significant building in Rawene is historic Clendon House.
Kohukohu is even more away from it all. Many of the (wooden) houses are nearly 200 years old. It is a perfect place to relax. You can hire a kayak or - the best thing to do - drive 40km to the even more remote tiny coastal town Mitimiti. It consists of just some houses, a marae and a hostel (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Ph. 09 405 5855). It is a place for walks on the dunes which are exceptionally huge on the northern side of the harbour.
Nice places on the southern side of the harbour are Omapere and Opononi (20 km west of Rawene). You should absolutely take a right turn to the lookout when leaving Omapere uphill on the way south to Waipoua Forest (SH12). The carpark is the start for several walks from where you have spectacular views of those huge sand dunes north of the harbour.
Opononi was once world-famous because long before dolphin watch tours, in 1955/56, a dolphin came to the shore and played with children, and performed tricks with balls. At this time they had to put up signs asking people not to shoot the dolphin!
The dolphin was named Opo, and everybody headed to Opononi to see him. Even a song was composed - but when it was released Opo suddenly died. A sculpture at the carpoark of the Opononi Resort Hotel reminds of the dolphin, his grave is in front of the War Memorial Hall next door. In a video film, shown at the local museum at the Visitor Centre in Omapere, you get a much better impression of how the whole of NZ went crazy about Opo.
Cape Reinga is popularly regarded as the country's northernmost point but in fact the Surville Cliffs (formerly: Kerr Point) on North Cape at the eastern tip of the land up there are almost five kilometres further north.
As Cape Reinga is better accessible and surrounded by the old Maori legend of the spirits heading back home it has become the focus of interest in the Far North. So all the tourists head to the lighthouse and the sign-post with the distances to major destinations of the world.
Cape Reinga and North Cape are at the end of Aupori Peninsula, called Te Hika o te Ika (Fish Tail) by Maori. The name refers to the legend of Maui who pulled the fish - the North Island - from the sea while sitting in his canoe - the South Island.
The spiritual trip of the Maori souls starts with sliding down on the roots of a 800 year old pohutukawa into the ocean. Then they reappear and climb Ohaua, the highest of the Three Kings Islands, to give their last farewell before returning to their ancestors in Hawaiki. The souls travel to Cape Reinga along the Ninety Mile Beach.
You might be surprised about the lack of infrastructure at the northern tip of the country. Not even SH1 is fully sealed, and you will not find a lot of places for shopping on the way. As most tourists head to the Cape without stopping accommodation is rather cheap.
From the lighthouse (157 metres above sea level) you have wonderful views over the cliffs and the seas. Yes, seas. If you have a close look you see how the waters of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet west of the lighthouse.
From the carpark you can go on several impressive walks, to Te Werahi Beach (1hr return), or eastwards with views towards Sandy Bay (1hr return) and further on to Tapotupotu Bay (4hrs return).
The latter can also be reached by car/bus. In fact most tour buses stop there for lunch. Swimming is not safe, due to dangerous currents.
If you have time you can consider the three-day Cape Reinga Coastal Walk (134km). Tour buses can drop you off and pick you up.
Even if you are not politically intested and do not care of what happened to the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour in 1985 Matauri Bay - on the east coast between Kerikeri and Mangonui - is a place to go to. It is of outstanding beauty. I find the view fromt he hill (before the roads goes downhill) over the tree ferns down to the white beach, bordered by a small peninsula, and out to the Cavalli Island extremely appealing.
Down there you feel a bit like in a surreal world, a mixture of the natural beauty of the place, Maori culture - you pass a very interesting cemetery with fabulous headstones, sculptures and a small white wooden church with seaview - and poverty. There are many shags and caravans which are home to very low-income families next to the beach. They have a million dollar view but in fact they have nothing. If I were out for wild camping I would probably not do it there...
Of course, Matauri Bay is a memorial place. Off the Cavalli Islands lies the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior which was bombarded and sunk by agents of the French secret service on 10 July 1985.
The vessel was refloated on 21 August 1985 and moved to a naval harbour for forensic examination. Although the hull to which the explosives had been attached to had been recovered the damage was too extensive for economic repair. The ship was laid to rest in the Cavalli Islands on 2 December 1987. There it serves as a dive wreck and fish sanctuary. The hull is now covered with a large colony of sea anemones.
Access to the Rainbow Warrior Memorial which includes the original propeller is near the Mautauri Bay Holiday Park. Short walk up the hill.
The original masts are displayed at the Dargaville Museum.
(You can read the story of the Rainbow Warrior on my tip about this museum.)
The trip to Matauri Bay from SH10 would be the first leg of a fantastic roundtrip along lots of bays to Whangaroa Bay and Harbour and Tauranga Bay.
The Fish'n'Chips Shop in Mangonui is probably the most well-known in New Zealand - and for this world-famous LOL
Probably it is also the most expensive fish'n'chips shop of the country LOL
But the prices are still moderate, compared to what you get in restaurant where they disguise fish'n'chips as fish or seafood basket. And as it is good and still rather cheap you must not wonder why nearly all the locals who show up are heavily overweight LOL
On the other hand you do not just get the cheapest fish you can imagine, you can choose from several kinds of fish. The portions are generous. And you can get so much more than just the deep-fried fish and chips. They have fresh salads, crayfish, prawns and a lot more. Even coffee.
And you can enjoy your meal sitting on the deck of a premise built on stilts right above the water. So in total a really nice break and just not another fish'n'chips shop.
As the main road passes Mangonui you might miss the beauty of this small colonial town on Doubtless Bay.
It has fantastic picturesque historic buildings. It is easy to see them all as they line the road along the harbour. Most of them have been finely restored and are just marvellous, surrounded by lush vegetation and flowering trees.
One of the beautifully restored buildings is the old courthouse from 1892. Others host cafés and restaurants. They have a little map at the Visitor Centre for a historical round-trip walk. It will not take you too long as Mangonui is really a small place (with high house prices LOL), and you are rewarded with nice views.
The town was founded as a whaling station in the early 19th century. It was a base for up to 30 whaling ships. It grew up as a port for ships engaged in the kauri trade. Timber was milled here and overseas ships revictualled. Trees were felled around the bay and floated to Mangonui to be milled.
Now the town is well-known for big-game-fishing, and at the world famous Fish'n'Chips Shop as well as in other places you get super fresh and delicious fish.
Ok - now as you are already at Matauri Bay and have enjoyed the view over this beach to the Cavalli Islands, do not just drive back to SH10 but keep on driving north along the bays and Whangaroa Harbour in a loop that leads back to SH10 north of Kaeo. It will only get better and more spectacular!
In fact, I spotted a farm house overlooking Tauranga Bay of which I thought it would be exactly at the spot I would love to live. Well, let's say, in my holidays... It is really far away from everything.
From Matauri Bay you have to drive back up the hill to the "main" road. Turn right. This road leads to Wainui (nice beach and volcanic rocks), and then uphill. This stretch of the road offers the mentioned spectacular views as you are high above the sea and see all those peninsulas and islands dotted in the water, just like the sunken world of the Bay of Islands further south. the peaks along the road are called The Twelve Apostles. (You can walk up to the summit of St. Paul's Rock, 230m/30mins.)
When you are back down at sea level you drive along the fiord-like Whangaroa Harbour, with its mangroves - a good place for spotting sea and shore birds.
Shortly after the settlement of Whangaroa you reach SH10.
In this little town they have a Shipwreck Museum where you can see relics from the "Boyd" which was a ship that arrived from England in 1809 to pick up kauri spars. Maori killed several crew members who came ashore, dressed in their clothes, boarded the ship after dark and attacked the remaining crew. A barrel of gunpowder exploded and the ship burnt to the waterline.
In total this trip from/to SH10 is about 40km long. It is a detour of 30km and takes 1 to 2hrs, depending on how often and how long you stop, and the road up the hill is winding and narrow in parts. In fact, you can spend half a day there if you decide to drive down to Mahinepua and Tauranga Bay from the hill road.
If you feel the need for a drink in the Warkworth area you should go for it in the pioneer village of Puhoi, 4km north of Waiwera and 12km south of Warkworth. In NZ's first Bohemian settlement you should pay a visit to the Puhoi Pub which is a mixture of pub, general store and museum. The walls of the two-storey colonial hotel are covered in tools. You feel a bit like in the good (but also very hard) old days.
As mentioned, Puhoi is a place of history. The early settlers of Puhoi - which means: Slow Water - arrived after a 106 day journey in the winter of 1863 from Bohemia, an area of what is now Czech Republic approximately 60 kilometres from Prague. The exact area is known as the Egerland, which was in the German confederation.
The settlers had departed from the port of Hamburg. They arrived in Auckland and travelled to the Puhoi mouth on a cutter, and there they were transferred to Maori canoes for the last four miles of their journey.
Today the village is known for its historic pub and the cheese. The factory sits in the upper reaches of the picturesque Puhoi valley. On a visit you can get insight into the art of cheese making and the history of the company. And sure, if you have no time or not enough interest - you will find Puhoi cheeses in every supermarket all over the country.
This is a fabulous place to learn everything - well, nearly everything, as there are no live trees in the rooms ;-) - about the kauri before or after travelling to the Waipoua Forest. It is on SH12 between Kaiwaka (SH1) and Dargaville, 140km north of Auckland and 95km south of the Waipoua Forest.
In the Volunteers Hall you will see a massive Kauri slab 22.5m long. A Steam Sawmill hows how logs were sawn into timber. Life-like mannequins represent local settler families. There also is beautiful Kauri furniture, magnificient timber panels and carvings on display, everything arranged with clothing and embroideries of the time, so you get a real insight into life of the pioneering days.
This is perfectly enhanced by several adjoining buildings, a Kauri building that was used as post office from 1909 to 1988 and the original Pioneer Church, built in 1867. One room has all the tools of a workshop, tools they needed for harvesting the giant Kauri trees, in another room a whole class room is assembled, including desks, pens, books etc.
Finally they have a great Kauri Gum display, carved and specimen pieces of recently formed NZ amber, as the sap clumps of the Kauri are called. Jewellery has been made from those big gum droppings which have lured mainly Slowenian gumdiggers to Northland. As we know now they transformed nature by doing this, creating a moon-like landscapes and making way for fast-moving erosion and the huge dunes that are characteristic for the Far North.
A good thing about this museum is that it is a charitable trust which means it is a non-profit organisation. It funds university studies and general projects.
Open daily (except Christmas Day)
1 Nov - 30 April 8.30 am - 5.30pm
1 May - 31 October 9am - 5pm
My husband and I stayed here for four nights, and were really looking forward to our trip....more
We were let down by the managers of Russell Cottages after booking a cottage for New Year. 3 weeks...more
100 Kamo Road, Whangarei, North Island, 0101, New Zealand
Good for: Couples