Lonely Planet raved about Footprints Waipoua and now, after last night’s adventure I will too. Our local Maori guide, Koro, really did guide us through the forest and introduced us to the biggest, and oldest of the kauri trees in the Waipoua Forest but now it’s not a lush forest I’m off to see but sand dunes.
After a cooked breakfast at the Copthorne, I check out, then catch the Hokianga Express boat over to the sand dunes for a Sandtrails Hokianga dune buggy trip around the sand hills I could see from my hotel room. The others on the water taxi are heading off to ride the dunes on body boards!
Once over the harbour, waiting at the bottom of the dunes for me is Andrew Kendall of Sandtrails Hokianga with his dune buggy, ready to take me around the sand hills and natural sculptures.
The Hokianga is not just blue skies, massive sand dunes and ancient trees – it’s also the cradle of not only Ngapuhi, but also of the European settlers in the early 1800s. Andrew Kendall’s tribal history, his whakapapa, like that of my deceased husband, includes their ancestor, Kupe, the Polynesian navigator who named this area when he left to return to the Islands north of New Zealand.
Andrew stands with me on top of the giant sand dunes, canyons, and sculptures on the north of the Hokianga Harbour – where Kupe first arrived – and regaled me with stories of the past with its intrigues, strife and wars, deception and fun. One of the great things about this trip, in a dune buggy, is that it’s pretty exclusive as only three people can do it at a time so I recommend you book in advance. (You can even stay at his Homestay B&B in Mitimiti.)
No matter where you are over the length of New Zealand, Maori culture, and a diversity of enterprises and activities are just around the next corner and Sandtrails is one of a kind!