Hokianga – take a twilight trip to see largest kauri tree

Perched right on the edge of the Hokianga Harbour, The Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga is a beautiful old style kauri villa has stunning views of the massive sand dunes across the bay. After checking in it’s not long before I’m in the warm water – I rarely get into cool or cold  sea but this road trip in Northland has reintroduced me to salt water bathing. This  4-star hotel also has a fresh-water swimming pool.

web copthorne hokianga

Back in my room, in the newer building, I watch as a fishing group returns and excitedly weighs, and photographs, a large fish. Before long I’m back in the hotels foyer as I’m meeting my guide there for a trip called Footprints Waipoua – a guided evening walk into the Waipoua Forest. (Twitter @hokimustdos)

We meet in the Copthorne Hokianga foyer
We meet in the Copthorne Hokianga foyer
Koro explains our route
Koro explains our route

My guide, Koro, from the local Maori tribe, picks me up and I meet the other couples, from Canada and Australia, who are on the walk too. He tells us he will introduce us to the locals’ relationship with nature, spiritually and culturally as we meet the trees many of whom have names.

One of them, Tane Mahutu, Lord of the Forest, belongs to the ‘family of ancient trees’ along with a Japanese tree, Jōmon Sugi – a similar forest chief on Yakushima Island off the coast of Japan. Both are celebrities in their own country and have twin tales of cultural significance.

The natural environment of Waipoua Forest provides a natural stage for our walk to see some of the largest kauri trees in the world. Koro also gives us a mythological interpretation of life in the forest and it feels really spiritual and a privilege to be in the forest in the dark.  It’s quite different during the day when I revisit the next afternoon with buses of tourists also there – no sounds of silence then!

An impressive trunk!
An impressive trunk!

We  meet the Four Sisters, ‘working together in competition’ and  the mighty Te Matua Ngahere, Father of the Forest, estimated to be 4,000 years old, “older than Jesus” Koro tells us,  and Tane Mahutu who is, impressively, 51 metres tall. Unfortunately, kauri have a disease, kauri dieback that’s proving a relentless killer and scientists are desperately seeking a way to stop the spread so please, please, stay on the walkways and clean your footwear to help stop the spread.

???????????????????????????????I recommend that while in the Hokianga, make sure you take the Footprints guided tour and learn about these special trees through song, history, and the Maori creation story. As Koro reminds us, “we are only alive when we are conscious of our treasures.”

clean your footwear .. PLEASE
Breakfast at the Copthorne before I head off on a water taxi (see the next blog)
Next morning I breakfast at the Copthorne before I head off on a water taxi (see the next blog)

My 2-week  trip around Northland was taken in my favourite car rental company NZ Rent A Car!


Northland road trip: along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway

In February most of my great road trip in Northland was on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway

It leads you from Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, to the far north, and is the ideal road adventure – I used a rental car and started from Auckland airport and valued the support and information I got from Destination Northland.

The Twin Coast Discovery Highway  traces both coasts to Cape Reinga and back. The east coast has fabulous white sand beaches, while the west coast has fewer people, wilder beaches and our giant kauri trees. All of which I’m writing about in individual blog (so sign up for them – top right on this page J) as I retrace my steps, but thought an overview would be useful too. Whatever you do,

you have a camera – you will fill it up just as I did – especially with postcard views of white or golden sand.

There are any  kinds of water experiences too – from dolphin trips, sightseeing tours diving, snorkelling or fishing – or as I did, parasailing over the Bay of Islands on New Zealand’s highest parasail.

Northland is often called ‘the birthplace of the nation’ as our founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was first signed here between the Maori tribes and the British in 1840 ad make sure you visit ‘the duke’ , in Russell,  which has New Zealand’s first licence as a bar – and is still hosting people in its rooms and dining areas.

On the other coast are 85% of New Zealand’s kauri trees – most in the magnificent Waipoua Forest and which also has Tane Mahuta, New Zealand’s largest kauri, then down to Dargaville on the Wairoa river and where all out kumara (sweet potato) come from then  onto  Matakohe,an engaging museum explains the life and times of the kauri tree.

This is the briefest of a thumbnail sketch  .. , with lots more to come:  One of the things I was surprised about ‘up north’ was how much there is to do – I did heaps but there were many more places that I didn’t see and many things I didn’t get to do!

Feel free to add your suggestions (in the comments) about ‘must dos’ you have found in New Zealand’s Northland.

Whangarei, Northland: a photographic tour of the Town Basin

I didnt have much time in Whangarei, Northland, so here’s a little photographic glimpse of the Town Basin and the local waterfalls.

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Grab a  rental car from  Rental Cars New Zealand, look up  Destination Northland  and create your own special Northland road trip

Summer in the winterless north is wonderful – esp’ off the beaten track

The ‘winterless north is great, but what do you call a cross between a rural resort, a farm-stay, a holiday club and a homestay? Why Kahoe Farms Hostel of course!

I arrived here this morning and I’ve been hiking in the bush behind this 1930s homestead; (the other one is from the 19thC. and both were built by the owners family)I’ve also been resting; downloading nearly 8 gig of photos and started the new collection of Northland pics; watched my fettuccine being made for dinner, and talked to the ugly, but v cute kunikuni pigs – and no, they will not be on the menu – ever!

Kahoe Farm Hotels started when a Kiwi met an Italian in London and they came back to NZ to the family farm . . . started by Lyndsay’s Swedish great-grandfather who ‘jumped ship’ in the local harbour when his fellow sailor’s were heading back out after whales – the rest, as they say, is history.

Of the people staying here, one couple from The Netherlands are back for a 2nd visit in a year; an American surfer is also back for a second time, and a Frenchman is on his way up from Auckland, also a repeat visitor … says it all doesn’t it!  More of that story in a later blog or print article.

Last night I went for an interactive  hike in the forest too, with Adventure Puketi. The bush a different place once the sun sets and our guide was full of great information – some of that to be revealed to you in a blog once I get home and work through all the work I have to do. Seems the daytime version of the walk is a hit with people off cruise ships.

Having my GPS with me has been helpful in finding my way around here in Northland as I love to get off the beaten track – my trusty rental car has been great

So, as its been for the past week, here are some photos to whet your appetite for more later on: