The townships in the Hokianga are generally small and unassuming, and the more charming for that. The twin settlements of Omapere and Opononi are generally the starting point for most visitors from the Bay of Islands. The Opononi Hotel is well known for music gigs and coffee at the Hokianga Copthorne Hotel is a must-do. Don’t miss the walk to South Head to watch the ocean meet the harbour mouth before you drive on south to see the kauri giant, Tane Mahuta (there are numerous forest tracks through the Waipoua Forest).
Further up the harbour you will find Rawene, New Zealand’s third oldest European settlement, and from here you can take the car ferry across to the historic mill town of Kohukohu. The second oldest European settlement is Horeke, where you can find the Mission House which hosted the largest signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Other jewels in the Hokianga include the seaswept settlement of Mitimiti, worth every twisting turn of the metalled road from Kohukohu. While you are visting the Bay of Islands, be sure to give yourself a daytrip through in this stunning area of Northland - have a look at our suggestions for driving tours for more information.
The Hokianga Harbour has a fascinating history - both Maori and European. Explore the region's small settlements on your way north.
Hokianga-Nui-A-Kupe means 'the place of Kupe's great return'. Many iwi (Maori tribes) trace their ancestry back to the legendary Polynesian explorer Kupe who, with his crew, voyaged deep into the southern ocean to find New Zealand.
Northland iwi claim the first landfall of Kupe's waka was on the shores of the Hokianga Harbour.
If you approach the Hokianga region from the south you'll have the opportunity to drive through Waipoua Forest, home of Tane Mahuta, New Zealand's largest kauri tree. Soon after you exit the forest, the Hokianga Harbour will appear dramatically in front of you.
You'll see huge white sand dunes on the northern side and the twin beach towns ofOmapere and Opononi on the southern side.
The Hokianga's largest town is Rawene, New Zealand’s third oldest European settlement and the home of historic Clendon house. The mangrove boardwalk makes a great stroll. From Rawene a vehicular ferry provides a connection to the other side of the harbour and the settlement of Kohukohu.
Near the settlement of Horeke is a natural phenomenon known as the Wairere Boulders. Amassed along a valley floor, this stream of huge rocks and boulders is 1.5 kilometres long.
At first glance the rocks appear to be limestone formations, but they are actually basalt. The fluting on the boulders is caused by acids leaching from the kauri forests that used to exist in the area.