A three hour drive north of Auckland, The Hokianga is an area surrounding the Hokianga Harbour, also known as the Hokianga River - a long estuarine drowned valley on the west coast of the North Island. Europeans first arrived in the region early in the 19th Century but found the area had been inhabited by the Ngapuhi for centuries before.
Early settlers were less than desirable - many being escaped convicts or deserters. The New Zealand Company (a 19th century English company that played a key role in the colonisation of New Zealand) tried to establish the first settlement here in 1826 but the shipload they bought refused to disembark. An Irish couple were the first official settlers and subsequently the first Catholic mass in New Zealand was celebrated in this area.
The harbour itself is New Zealand's 4th largest but can only be entered by small boats due to a large sandbar at the entrance. However once inside, the waters are navigable up to 20 kilometres inland. On the northern side of the harbour massive shifting sand dunes reach up to 200 metres high and provide great fun to anyone with a suitable apparatus to slide down them.
The small seaside towns of Omapere and Opononi have many holiday and summer homes plus a few craft shops, cafes and a pub. Rawene sits on the harbour around 30 kilometres inland. It is here that the Rawene ferry will take you across the harbour and save you around 1 hours drive if you are heading north to Kaitaia. The town itself has many old wooden buildings with many of them constructed using cantilevers over the harbour. Originally designated as new settlement in 1820 the intended occupants refused to stay because it rained so hard and for so long!
Rawene sits on the harbour around 30 kilometres inland. It is here that the Rawene ferry will take you across the harbour and save you around 1 hours drive if you are heading north to Kaitaia. The town itself has many old wooden buildings with many of them constructed using cantilevers over the harbour. Originally designated as new settlement in 1820 the intended occupants refused to stay because it rained so hard and for so long!
Be introduced to the oldest and largest known kauri trees in the world. These sentinels have stood silently witnessing the passing of time. Culture and Nature collide here in a sensory experience of a lifetime. Footprints Waipoua is 1 of only 2 NZ and 82 Global Lonely Planet Code Green Experiences of a Lifetime. It is truly an intimate encounter with giant kauri trees who have stood silently witnessing the passing of time. Witness the transition of time and space as the sun sets on an ancient theatre.
Your Maori guide will brief you on the protocols for your visit to the mighty Waipoua Forest. Stepping into our special world you will be walking under the same stars that guided our ancestor Kupe from legendary Hawaiiki to New Zealand. The highlight of the tour will be your meeting with 'The Lord of the Forest' - the giant Tane Mahuta! Your guide will formally greet the silent giant and then suddenly you stand dwarfed before his Lordship as the darkness closes in. His gnarled ancient limbs seem to grasp at the stars and the forest is silent but for the dim chatter of its night creatures.
Enter Te Hokianga-nui-a-Kupe, our sacred cradle of tribal histories. Walk in the footprints of the Maori ancestor – Kupe the intrepid, Kupe the voyager, Kupe the discoverer.
Experience a Pōwhiri (welcome ceremony) and other rituals and customs experienced through interaction with the descendants of Kupe. Explore the contemporary cultural centre with carvings and artefacts holding the stories of the past, giving you incredible insight into the history of Aotearoa.