|Trip Length:||2 nights, 2 days|
|Getting there:||Opononi is approximately a 3.5 hour drive from Auckland travelling through the home of Tane Mahuta, the Waipoua forest, and a 1 hour drive from Kerikeri airport.|
|Best time to visit:||Spring to Autumn.
Jet skis are dependent on the weather and harbour conditions.
Awesome Adventures offers guest accommodation for families. You do not need to concern yourself about catering and lugging groceries from Auckland or elsewhere. Your weekend is organised. Len will introduce you to the narrative of the harbour from Kupe onwards with humour and laughter. Make sure you have enough room for dessert, the caramel bananas are sure to be on the menu. There are other modern AirBnB accommodation options within 5 mins walk from Lenny’s house if you have larger groups.
Jet skiing the harbour you have several choices. As this weekend is about relaxation, getting to make new friends and discovering one of our favourite New Zealand places you will be joining a three and half hour jet ski tour to Horeke, Koutou Boulders, Mangungu Mission House with a final stop at the Boat Shed Cafe, Rawene. Longer tours can be arranged on request.
Jet ski tour
Horeke is the second oldest town in New Zealand and, more importantly the site of the first pub. Situated on the shorefront it served ship builders working in the first commercial shipbuilding industry based in Horeke. You will hear stories about New Zealand’s first documented murder trial at the nearby Methodist Mission. On your way to Horeke you will hear the story of Cannibal Jacks, Hokianga’s first European settler. Among his most notorious exploits was practising cannibalism. Jack’s life in Hokianga was at Martin’s Point. Immersed in Maori culture and practice he was fluent in Te Reo. There is very little physical evidence of his occupation however your imagination is all you require while listening to the narrative of Jack’s life in Aotearoa.
Either under your newly acquired jet skiing skills or the careful supervision of Lenny and his team leader, Antoinette your adventure takes up the harbour through native mangroves and up the river estuaries.
Records of a pub selling beer dates to the 1820’s. Although, there is the inconvenient fact that the pub did not have a liquor licence, that did not stop business. The interesting part of this story is that the Northland settlements already had bureaucrats issuing liquor licences. The Horeke Tavern was also the site of the first government organised hui. Governor Hobson trudged for six day to reach Horeke with the freshly inked Treaty of Waitangi. The balance of the Northland chiefs signed at the nearby Mangungu Mission station and then it was celebration time in the pub grounds.
“This meeting has been described as the ‘first government funded hui’, setting the scene for today’s sausage roll morning teas in government departments. The Postal Service also has its origins here, with a horseback service between the Hokianga and the Bay of Islands starting three months after the Treaty signing.” as described by NZPlaces. Definitely a place to visit to check out where New Zealanders got the idea of sausage rolls as a food group.
Cyclindal natural sculptured rock forms make for a great photo moment. It has been estimated that the largest of the boulders may have taken 5 million years to grow. The boulders are concretions, or hardened nodules formed within sedimentary rocks. Moeraki boulders are the poster rock boys for this type of rock formation. Hokianga Harbour does it one better with hundreds of them and an isolated beach for you to stroll on. You’ve viewed the boulders from the harbour now you want to check them out via road. Drive around Koutu Loop Road, through the settlement of Koutu, and from where the seal ends another Km will bring you to Waione Road on your left. Drive about 100 metres along Waione Road past the Macrocarpa trees on the corner, and park on the left near the old cattle yards. From there walk along the beach. The further you walk the bigger the boulders get.
The walk is an easy one for all ages, best done within the two hours either side of low tide. At any time you can walk along the beach but at high tide it can be a bit of a scramble.
A second access to the harbour and the really big boulders has recently been provided by Council. Drive to the end of Waione Road, and where the road forks take the right hand fork, Cabbage Tree Bay Road.Drive about 750 metres, almost to the end of the road. Just past the entrance to number 76 you will see where a small parking area has been created on the right hand side of the road. Park your vehicle here.
A hill top stunning view over the Hokianga Harbour is a strategic position for the newly established Wesleyan Mission station in 1828. The mission station is the site of the largest signing of the Treaty of Waitangi with over 70 chiefs in attendance. It was estimated over 3,000 were witnesses on 12th February 1840. Another first for Aotearoa was the importation of honey bees, with the subsequent contribution of bees to the pollination of newly introduced fruit trees and development of a pastoral economy. The first grapevines were also introduced at Mangungu, and throughout time our wine industry has developed into our 9th largest export.
Mangungu Mission Station visit, via the harbour, is dependent on the tide. You will hear stories about how an ancestor Thomas Cassidy played a part in the signing of the treaty and his role in the establishment of Catholicism here in Aotearoa. The significance of trans-Maori sovereignty and the importance of identity and culture in current society.
Address: Motukiore Road, 3km from Horeke on the shore of the Hokianga Harbour
Opening Hours: Closed for Winter for scheduled maintenance.
Summer opening hours to be determined.
Admission: fees apply.
Your jet ski tour finishes with a return to Opononi jetty. Lenny can assist with advice where to go and what to see depending on your interests. Remember to check our guide to Hokianga for inspiration.
A self-guided exploration of Opononi, Omapere and Rawene. You are exploring South Hokianga for a journey around the Hokianga Harbour allowing up to a week to fully immerse yourself in the cultural heart of New Zealand.
Arai-te-uru Recreation Reserve Hokianga Heads area: Places to go in Northland. A nature reserve in Opononi. Absolutely spectacular views over the harbour and the wild west coast. A short walk leads to the site of an old signal station built to assist ships making the treacherous passage into the Hokianga. It closed in 1951 due to a decline in ships entering the harbour. A track also heads down to picturesque little Martin’s Bay. Arai Te Uru is the name of the Taniwha which guards the harbour entrance with its sister Taniwha Niwa who stands guard on the opposite shore.
Five ships had been shipwrecked in the late 1820’s. This led to merchant seaman John Martin, who had made Hokianga his home, feel something should be done to warn ships of the sand bars and dangers facing entry into the harbour. Together with local chief Moetara a pilot service, in the 1830’s was set up. He erected a signalling mast on the high point of the South Head. According to some accounts he was not paid for the service until he was officially appointed. The mast remained operational until 1951 when technology and decreased harbour use led to closure. The final flagstaff still can be found in Opononi above the R.S.A. hall in Opononi, and the last signal light is in the local museum.
Omapere Museum Museum & Archives is a treasure trove of letters, documents, memorabilia and artefacts relating to the Hokianga. Volunteers have ensured past actions, people and events are recorded. Check with the museum for opening hours or to make an appointment.
Kupe Centre, Opononi
Tour Manea Footprints of Kupe is an interactive centre due to open late 2020. Oral traditions, by their nature, are reinterpreted by each generation acting as a generational guardian. The promise of a dedicated centre enabling visitors to experience the stories is an exciting initiative for the Hokianga. A great opportunity for visitors to hear, from the locals the story of Polynesian navigation and the links of Maoris to the ocean, the people of the Pacific and how human migration has shaped identity and New Zealand.
Opo the dolphin statute
Located at 17 State Highway 12, Opononi. A stone statue of the dolphin playing with a child by Russell Clark was erected in Opononi in 1960. Following vandalism this was replaced by a bronze casting in 2013, with the restored original put on display at the Hokianga Historical Society’s Museum at Omapere.
Who needs a statue of Nelson when New Zealand’s got world class military strategist like Rahiri. He was a paramount chief in the seventeenth century. A monument to Rahiri stands on the summit of Whiria mountain. As does the site of a strategic Pa. The position made the Pa impregnable and the area was never conquered. Rahiri descendents are Ngapuhi from the two marriages that cemented his position in the north. For more historical information consult Rāwiri Taonui, ‘Ngāpuhi’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Ngāpuhi.
Excerpt from Encyclopedia of New Zealand, “Ngāpuhi by Rāwiri Taonui …The magical light from Te Ramaroa mountain first guided Kupe into Hokianga Harbour. Many other sacred mountains support the house of Ngāpuhi, a people who played a central role in Māori history. Lands, Ngāpuhi is the largest tribe in New Zealand. Their heartland lies at Te Tai Tokerau (the northern tide) in the far north. The territory stretches west to east from Hokianga Harbour to the Bay of Islands, and southward to Maunganui Bluff and Whāngārei. The following chant likens the lands of Ngāpuhi to a traditional house:”
Quirky Rawene, departure point for Hokianga ferry and home of The Boat Shed Cafe. Allow several hours to amble around Rawene, popping into the local cafe / art gallery, the puzzle shop and simply walking around the town absorbing the sense of community. There is a wetland walk past Clendon House well worth a detour.
Shops such as:
Clendon House Clendon House | Northland | Places to Visit | Places, check for details as it is not open every day.
Clendon Cottage, a pretty cottage was built in the bustling 1860s by James Clendon, a trader, shipowner and magistrate.
After his death, his 34-year-old Māori widow Jane was left with fourteen children and an enormous debt of £5000.
Nothing like determination and an entrepreneurial spirit.
Jane managed to clear the debt and her descendants remained in the house until 1972.
It’s now administered by Heritage New Zealand.
The Sand Dunes as seen from the South shore of the Hokianga Harbour can be accessed on Lenny’s quad bike tour which catches the Hokianga ferry and then skirts around the harbour to the beach tracks and the sand dunes. A 4WD vehicle or quad bike is essential. The sand dunes are a landscape of wind scarred bluffs, temporary shapes constantly buffered by the wind and a testament to the power of nature. The sand dunes can be accessed on land from Mitimiti (15 km drive along the beach). This is an all day excursion and a highlight of the weekend.