The Kauri Coast is a dramatic stretch of Kauri forest and picturesque beaches on the northern west coast of the North Island, 90 minutes drive north of Auckland, and continues northwards to Hokianga.
The Kauri Coast runs from the town of Brynderwyn up to the Hokianga Harbour and is accessed along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway. Famed for its giant kauri trees, stunning beaches and significant Maori and pioneer history, the Kauri Coast and Hokianga region is steeped in spectacular natural wonders and fascinating cultural heritage. Continuing north takes in the harbourside twin towns of Omapere and Opononi nestled on the shores of the stunning Hokianga Harbour.
History and scenery
To inform your visit to the Kauri Coast, visit the captivating Kauri Museum in Matakohe. Here you can learn about the mighty kauri tree and experience the stories of pioneering settlers in New Zealand.
Carry on north from Dargaville and you'll find the Kai iwi Lakes. These crystal clear, freshwater lakes are perfect for swimming, kayaking, fishing and sailing. Living history stands in the forms of Kauri giants in the Waipoua Forest, then a stunning reveal of the Hokianga Harbour greets you as you continue northward.
Hokianga is short for Hokianga-Nui-A-Kupe, which 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.
More than 1000 years ago, Kupe and his people were the first to arrive in New Zealand, landing on the shores of Hokianga Harbour. No mean feat, as the taniwha (sea monsters) who guard the entrance to the harbour still, to this day, stir up the waters with their lashing tails.
The area was also one of the first points of Maori and European contact. In 1838 Bishop Pompallier held the first Catholic service near Motuti and the second largest gathering to sign the Treaty of Waitangi was at the Mangungu Wesleyan Mission.
The stunning views you'll see over theHokianga Harbour have changed little since those days. No gaudy houses line the shores; waka still traverse the waters, joined by game fishing enthusiasts, historical harbour cruises and a water taxi. The adventurous can choose to be ferried across the harbour for a thrilling sand toboggan ride down the giant 180m golden sand dunes.
Life takes on a slower, more laid back pace in the Hokianga – helped along by the warmth and hospitality of the locals.
On the southern side of the harbour you'll find the twin beach towns of Omapere and Opononi; the northern side is home to the sand dunes. 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.
Giant Kauri Forests
The Kauri Coast is named after the huge kauri trees which thrive here, and no trip to the Coast is complete without venturing into these majestic ancient forests. Trounson Kauri Park is one of the few places where you can see our national icon, the nocturnal kiwi bird, in the wild.
Further north, towards Hokianga, is the Waipoua Forest, home to New Zealand's largest kauri tree, Tane Mahuta. Local Maori guides can take you through the forest at twilight and explain the Maori legends of the forest - a unique and often spiritual experience.
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