In 1838 John Martin bought the headland and constructed a signalling mast on the point to guide ships over the treacherous Hokianga sandbar. His white painted house on a nearby hill acted as a navigation marker.
According to Maori mythology, Arai Te Uru and Niua (the north head of the harbour) were two taniwha (sea monsters) who had the job of guarding the harbour entrance. Their job was to lash out with their powerful tails and stir the waters into such frenzy that invading waka would be swamped and rendered helpless in the sea.
From the wharf at Opononi, you can catch a water taxi to the huge sand dunes of the north head. Surfing down the dunes on body boards is enormous fun.