What’s so great about Dargaville, what to do and best things to see
The underrated Kauri Coast is magical with places for solitary exploration away from the crowds
Want to find out more about the Kauri Coast then Dargaville is an excellent place to base yourself. From heritage walks along the Northern Wairoa River to river cruises the importance of the massive Kaipara Harbour will be evident. There are small settlements, each with their own story, a lighthouse and kumera (sweet potato) to enjoy in its myriad forms as a snack, part of a meal or roasted on a BBQ. Dargaville is worth a detour.
Who turned up and settled in Dargaville?
Māori settlements have been situated around the harbour for hundreds of years. The immense harbour and river were water highways connecting marae’s (villages) as well as a rich food resource. The area’s Maori name is Takiwira. The name Dargaville relates to a timber merchant, politician and banker, Joseph Dargaville.
- Paikea, Paraire Karaka
Born Ōtamatea, Kaipara approximately 75km from Dargaville. Prominent Maori leader. He was Te Uri-o-Hau iwi, Methodist minister and Rātana leader, Paraire Paikea, played a leading role in forging the historic alliance between the Rātana movement and the Labour Party. He was minister in charge of the Māori war effort during the Second World War.
- Sportspeople from Dion Nash (cricket) and Dunne brothers (All Blacks) call Dargaville home
- Amelia Batistich, writer born in Dargaville 1905
- Kaipara Harbour, second largest in New Zealand with a notorious bar across the Dargaville River mouth. There are accounts of over 11o shipwrecks.
- Butter Barques And Gum Trail Formerly Known As Dargaville Heritage River Trail, a fascinating short walk introducing visitors to the area.
- Trounson Kauri Park for a glimpse of forest giants
- Dargaville Museum, look for the accordion collection, including well known Kevin Friedrich accordian collection and find out what it was like to be a kauri gumdigger
- Kaipara Vintage Machinery Park with its stunning views of the Kaipara Harbour
Where to take the best selfie
- Kumera, enormous vegetable sculpture at the edge of town
- Harding Park for the sweeping views over the Northern Wairoa river and district
Harding Park, Pou Tu Te Rangi complex includes the museum’s replica Gumdiggers site, the Rainbow Warrior’s masts, Vintage Machinery Club and the Pou tu te Rangi Pa site. And neighboring the park is the old Mt Wesley Cemetery. The panoramic park overlooks the Northern Wairoa River with picnic tables and walking / cycling trails. There are day trips along Bayleys Beach and beyond on the longest drivable beach in Aotearoa NZ to explore remements of ancient petrified kauri and wonder about waka and ships navigating the treacherous waters. You will encounter wild and uninhabited beaches where you can easily feel like an adventurer finding new territories. Perhaps a cruise exploring the waterways of the Kaipara Harbour on the historic MV Daisy listening to tales about human endeavour in the region.
- Kairpara Vintage Machinery Crank Up day (spring & autumn)
- Dargarville River Festival
- Tour of Northland cycle event
- Northland Field Day
- Kai Iwi Lakes, three freshwater lakes with white sandy beaches and walks
- Kaipara Vintage Machinery Park for a picnic
- Quirky Kumera Box, a farm dedicated to the unusual. Farm tours in a kumera ‘cart’ driven by a tractor. Headed by Warren Suckling otherwise known locally as ‘Ernie the kumara king
What makes the place tick over?
- The area exploded with opportunities in the nineteenth century with the wholesale logging of kauri. The short lived exploitative industry led to a rush of new immigrants from Croatia and beyond. Today dairying is a mainstay and the kumera crop bounty has crowned Dargaville as the Kumera Capital of New Zealand.
- From half day exploring the historic river walk and museum to several days there is plenty to keep visitors occupied.
Best time to go
- Year round, Northland climate with plenty to do indoors if it’s a bit chilly
- 4,795 (2018)
- Dargaville has had a steady growth in population since the early 2000’s.
- Ocean currents, do not swim alone
TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION
- According to Māori tradition, the name Kaipara had its origins back in the 15th century when the Arawa chief, Kahumatamomoe, travelled to the Kaipara to visit his nephew at Pouto. At a feast, he was so impressed with the cooked root of the para fern, that he gave the name Kai-para to the district. Kaipara comes from the Māori kai meaning “food”, and para meaning “king fern”. Wikipedia
- The place, Dargaville is part of the Kaipara Harbour is one of the largest in the world (by area) econd largest in New Zealand with a treacherous sandbanks creating a notorious bar across the Dargaville River mouth.By area, the Kaipara Harbour is one of the largest harbours in the world. It covers 947 square kilometres (366 sq mi) at high tide, with 409 square kilometres (158 sq mi) exposed as mudflats and sandflats at low tide.
- Kaipara Harbour is a ship graveyard, due to the notorious sandbar, coastal currents and high tidal range there have been 43 documented shipwrecks with unconfirmed wrecks totalling over 110.
Unique journeys, personal adventures.