Fun things to do in Northland

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Northland

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    Hourora Heads

    by stevezero Written Mar 8, 2005

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    Houhora Heads is situated near Far North Road which links Cape Reinga and Kaitaia. It is home to a local museum and golf-course, with bus tours from the Bay of Plenty to Cape Reinga using it as a halfway stop. Game-fishing is popular all-year-round, with access to Houhora Harbour.

    Hourora Heads
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    The Stone Store, Kerikeri

    by stevezero Written Mar 8, 2005

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    The Stone Store, Kerikeri, was the earliest stone building constructed by Europeans when it was built in 1832.
    Designed by Wesleyan missionary John Hobbs and built by an ex-convict stonemason from New South Wales, the Store was meant to house New Zealand mission supplies and large quantities of wheat from the mission farm at Te Waimate. When the wheat failed the building was mainly leased as a kauri gum trading store. It then passed into Kemp family ownership, and from 1929 onwards was used mainly as a general store.
    It is now in the hands of the new Zealand historic trust.

    The Stone Store, Kerikeri
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    Kemp House

    by stevezero Written Mar 8, 2005

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    Kemp House is the oldest standing European house in New Zealand. it is situated in the small town of Kerikeri.
    Built to house the Rev. John Butler in 1821-22, this simple but elegant wooden house was occupied by the Clarke family from 1824-31, and then by James and Charlotte Kemp and their descendants until 1974, when the house and most of its contents were presented to the Historic Places Trust. The garden, first dug in 1820 and cultivated ever since, recalls this mission period.

    Kemp House, Kerikeri
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    Rewa's Village

    by stevezero Written Mar 8, 2005

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    Of course the Maoris were in the Kerikeri area long before the Europeans ever were.
    Rewa's village is a full size replica of an ancient maori settlement, which stands on the hill overlooking Kerikeri.
    Maori setllements were long built on hillside locations for protection from attack.

    Rewa's Village, Kerikeri
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    Bay of Islands

    by stevezero Written Mar 8, 2005

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    The Bay of Islands is now a centre for big game fishing, having been made famous by American writer Zane Grey who fished here.
    It is now also a centre for cruises of the area, which is the site of some of the earliest Europen settlements. There is also a lot of Maori history in the area.

    Bay of Islands, Northland
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    • Water Sports
    • Fishing
    • Sailing and Boating

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    Waitangi Treaty House

    by stevezero Written Mar 9, 2005

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    The house where the Waitangi Treaty was signed still remains and can be visited. The Treaty of Waitangi, first signed here in 1840 between Maori Chiefs and the British Crown became the basis for life in New Zealand as we know it today.

    Waitangi Treaty House
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    Sheepworld

    by stevezero Written Mar 9, 2005

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    Heading back south to Auckland we visited Sheepworld.Here you can experience everything to with, well, sheep.
    There are demonstrations of shearing, dog handling, etc, Best of all you can get in close and feed the sheep themselves.

    Sheepworld
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    Ahipara - Ninety Mile Beach

    by kiwiwahine Written Jun 4, 2003

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    At the bottom of Ninety Mile Beach, a sleepy little seaside town just west of Kaitaia. A great place to spend summer days, fishing, swimming, digging pipis or gathering paua. Take a walk inland, swimming in the rivers and water falls and gather blackberries. You can do a sand dune safari on one of the four wheel drive buses based in Kaitaia or take a day trip up to the Cape. Alternately travel overland on winding roads through fertile farm land to Mongonui stopping to have a look at the glow worm caves on the way.

    Ninety Mile Beach

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    On the Twin Coast Discovery Highway, Part 1

    by Kakapo2 Updated Dec 18, 2010

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    You can see nearly everything and miss a lot when you travel in Northland, depending on how much time you can spend at this narrow stretch of rugged land north of Auckland.

    The best way to see as much as possible is to travel on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway which in fact is three highways, with many possible detours to no-exit locations which cost time but are always worth the trip because you get to places of extraordinary beauty.

    It does not matter which way round you travel. You are individual enough to work out your own way. I have once done a whole Northland trip without, of course, seeing everything. On another trip we drove to the gannet colony at Muriwai Beach and to South Head, on the Kaipara Harbour, which is north-west of Auckland. And on a third trip we were based in the Bay of Islands, went into detail along the coast north of Paihia and back to Waipoua Forest - and found out that you do not miss a thing if you do not travel on the inland road from Whangarei to Kaikohe. We had thought the name Twin Bridges sounded promising and drove for hours on gravel roads through the Marlborough Forest - but it was just nothing.

    A suggested route:

    North on SH1 along Whangaparaoa Bay and Mahurangi Harbour - Waiwera (Hot Springs) - Warkworth - a day or two to explore this area with lots of bays and capes. We had a fabulous stay at the end of a road in Algies Bay, made a trip on the mail boat to Kawau Island, drove to the wine country around Matakana and Cape Rodney. (Also check out the separate tip about Matakana and its spectacular public toilets.) From Leigh you can walk around the rocks and in low tide to Goat Island. - Further up to Wellsford.

    We then chose to travel west on SH 12 because there are some Kauri Museums, so we would learn about the north before visiting all those interesting places: Matakohe Kauri Museum, then along the Wairoa Habour to Dargaville (Northern Wairoa Maori, Maritime and Pioneer Museum, Kauri in all its facets, Rainbow Warrior propeller etc.). - Detour to Baylys Beach.

    --- continues with Part 2, next tip, or just click... ----

    (Sorry for splitting this tip up - this is from the times when the maximum for a VT tip was 2000 characters.)

    Related to:
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    • Eco-Tourism
    • Historical Travel

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    Kai Iwi Lakes - Taharoa Domain

    by kiwiwahine Written Jun 4, 2003

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    Just north of Dargaville is the Kai Iwi Lakes; fresh, clear waters edged with white suger like sand, pine forests, and a waist deep bank for children to swim.
    The Kai Iwi Lakes are basin type dune lakes formed in consolidated sand of late Pleistocene geological origin. They were formed by the accumulation of rainwater in depressions of sand underlain by relatively impermeable ironstone pans.
    You can explore by following the extensive walking track around the lakes. The domain is 2.5km from the Tasman sea and walkway access to the coast is available through an adjoining farm property west of the domain. The more adventurous, you can walk the beach to Maunganui Bluff where you can gather mussels.

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    Houhora Heads Beach

    by stevezero Written Mar 8, 2005

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    There is also a lovely beach at Houhora Heads which was deserted when we were there.
    It had also stopped raining which made it look all the better.
    There are also good views of the surrounding mountains to be enjoyed.

    Houhora Heads Beach
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    On the Twin Coast Discovery Highway, Part 2

    by Kakapo2 Updated Nov 20, 2013

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    Click here for Part 1.

    Part 2 of the Northland roundtrip:

    Dargaville is the gateway to the Waipoua Forest which is world-famous for its giant kauri trees. First Trounson Kauri Park (great boardwalk, home to kiwi and weta) and Kai-Iwi Lakes, then Four Sisters and Tane Mahuta. - Omapere, Opononi - along Hokianga Harbour to Rawene, ferry to Kohukohu, through the hinterland back to SH 1 to Kaitaia, we stayed further west in Ahipara.

    We booked a tour to Cape Reinga, New Zealand's northernmost point, on 90 Mile Beach. On the way we visited Wagener Museum (Maori artifacts, natural history, kauri gum etc.) in Houhara, the snow white quartz beach Parengarenga Beach, crossed Te Paki Stream and walked up the dunes. At Cape Reinga you do not only have to check out the lighthouse but also walkways and beaches.

    From Kaitaia we started our trip back south on SH 10 along Rangaunu Harbour (fantastic detour to Karikari Peninsula), Coopers Beach, Mangonui (famous fish shop), side trips to fantastic bays. - Incredible views on detour along Whangaroa Harbour/Tauranga Bay - Mahinapua - Matauri Bay (out there near the Cavalli Islands lies the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior. - Back to SH 10.

    Next place is Kerikeri (Stone Store, orchards) - Puketona - Haruru Falls - Waitangi (Treaty Grounds) - Paihia - Opua - ferry to Russell - Kawakawa - Whangarei (optional trips to the coast and Whangarei Heads). - Leave SH1 near Waipu and drive along the coast to Waipu Cove, Langs Beach, Mangawhai - back to SH 1. - In Wellsford west on SH16 along the southern part of Kaipara Harbour. - If you have not been to South Head and Shelly Beach yet, take a turn in Helensville.

    Back on SH 16 turn right in Waimauku to Muriwai Beach to the gannet colony. - Further south are the Waitakere Ranges. If there is any time left before returning to Auckland... ;-) Probably not... ;-)

    Update 11 December 2010

    This week there was a news piece on TV, showing horrible footage of the Kai-Iwi Lakes - meaning: the footage was good but it showed horrible things. The District Council has chopped ALL trees around the lakes, particularly because pines had become potential hazards. New native trees and shrubs have been planted next to the stumps of the chopped trees but it will take years until the area will look nice and scenic again. At the moment it looks like a warzone or, as one local said, a battlefield, really like after the bomb. They have shown tourists leaving in disgust and looking for another place to camp. The lakes are only good for watersports at the moment, not for nature lovers.

    Matauri Bay, Cavalli Islands.
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    The Magic Kauri Trees of the Waipoua Forest

    by Kakapo2 Written May 6, 2007

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    The Waipoua Forest is one of the things that are unique to Northland. Although you find Kauri trees in other parts of the country, especially on Coromandel Peninsula, they are still plentiful in Northland although they do not stand any comparison to the huge forests they were before the arrival of humans. Those forests also display great diversity. The contrast of the dark green of the kauri, tawa and podocarps with the light green of the many tree ferns is very appealing.

    The largest kauri are comparable in age and size to the giant sequoias of California. Many are older than 1000 years. They are extremely slow-growing - which makes the extensive harvesting in earlier times the more devastating. The trees are perfectly straight, and the wood is knotless. The Maori used them for building war canoes. When the Europeans arrived, they cut the trees for building ships (especially masts) and houses. Finally - and this gave the very north of Northland the rest - gumdiggers dug the soil for the huge sap clumps of the kauri, as this was used for jewellery, called NZ amber. Today the kauri is strictly protected. On the Waitangi Treaty Grounds you can see the stump of the huge kauri from which the exhibited war canoe was carved, and get an impression of the impressive diameter.

    Although everybody knows how long it takes a kauri to reach a splendid size there are still enough idiots out there who vandalise them. Just some months ago some kauri were vandalised in the Waipoua Forest.

    On the way north, Trounson Kauri Park is the first place to visit (extra tip).

    Next possible stops (south to north):

    Waipoua Forest Lookout - From the top of the lookout tower you get a good view over the 11,000 hectares Waipoua Forest

    Rickers Track - A 10min walk though stands of young kauri

    The Four Sisters - A 5min boardwalk track which leads around a stand of four huge trees

    Te Matua Ngahere - A 15min walk to the "Father of the Forest"; a 30min walk from the same point leads to Yakas Kauri.

    Tane Mahuta - see extra tip.

    Contrast of huge Kauri and tree ferns.
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    • Jungle and Rain Forest
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    Admire and Protect Tane Mahuta, God of the Forest

    by Kakapo2 Updated May 6, 2007

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    Tane Mahuta - the "God of the Forest" - is the number one tourist attraction in the Waipoua Forest. This huge kauri is the tallest tree of the forest. It is 51.5 metres high, the trunk alone more than 17 metres. The trunk girth is nearly 14 metres. But with this Tane Mahuta is not the biggest kauri of the area: The trunk of Te Mahuta Ngahere, some kilometres further south, has a diameter of five metres, which means, a girth of more than 15 metres.

    The age is hard to say. Some sources estimate it at 1200 years, others - as is noted on the sign near the tree - speak of probably 2000 years.

    As the feeding roots of the kauri are very shallow and delicate you walk on boardwalks for their protection, and you should not climb over the banister in front of Tane Mahuta for cuddling the tree for demonstrating how large it is. Too much trampling on the roots could kill the giants of the forest.

    Not only this huge kauri is wonderful. On the second photo of this tip you can see which lush rainforest the Waipoua Forest is. A lot of other NZ trees and ferns, as well as exotic dracena and palm trees grow there and give it a touch of special magic.

    Take the theft warnings at the carparks seriously. SH12 leads through no-man's-land, there is nearly no traffic, and the thinly populated areas at the northern and southern end of the forest are very poor, with a high rate of unemployment. So some guys have a lot of time to drive along the road and target tourist cars, if they can see attractive items left in them from the outside.

    Tane Mahuta is NZ's largest kauri. Tane Mahuta (right) stand in lush rainforest.
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    Learn about Kauri at The Kauri Museum, Matakohe

    by Kakapo2 Written May 7, 2007

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    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

    Displays. - Photo from Museum website.
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    • Museum Visits

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Northland Things to Do

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