Sand Dunes, Giant Kauri’s and a Long Road Trip…

Today we had the longest driving day of our New Zealand adventure so far – over ten hours from one coast to the other and back again! We left Paihia in the Bay of Islands nice and refreshed after our stay at the Falls Motel camper van park and headed cross country towards the West coast of the North Island.

We arrived in the tiny harbour-side town of Opononi after about a two hour drive – this town is famous for its giant sand dunes which can be reached by boat from a tiny wooden jetty.

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There is a great scenic lookout up in the hills which gave us a great view of the harbour below us, as well as the surrounding coastline and dunes.

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Opononi is also famous for “Opo” – a friendly female dolphin who made the local waters her home during the 1950s. Apparently she became so tame that children from the town were able to ride on her back! There is a statue of “Opo” in front of the harbour and you can also see her gravestone by the side of the road.

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Just over 20kms down the West Coast from Opononi is the Waipoua Forest, most famous for the giant Kauri trees that grow there. We took a walk to Tane Mahuta (“Lord of the Forest”), which is the largest Kauri in the forest. At a total height of 51.1 metres and a girth of 13.8 metres, Tane Mahuta really is a sight to behold. No matter how many times we tried we weren’t able to take a photograph of the entire tree – it was just too big!

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After stopping in one of the forest’s picnic areas for lunch we drove on for another few kilometres until we reached the spot of the “Four Sisters” – a group of Giant Kauris growing extremely close to one another.

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Our last stop in Waipoua Forest was near to the visitor’s centre, where we took the Rickers Walk pathway up into the forest itself. The track wound steeply alongside the Waipoua River and we got a great look at the torrents of water flowing furiously out of the hills and passing beneath us.

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Once out of the forest we continued down the beautiful Kauri Coast before turning back inland and heading back towards the East Coast of Northland.

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We’d missed part of the East Coast out on our way up to the Bay of Islands so wanted to go back and take in the views. It meant adding on another hundred or so kilometres to our already lengthy journey, but we didn’t mind!

After completing a slight figure of “8” across the country, we made our way towards the town of Orewa and parked up for the night in a car park near the beach. Whilst it had been an extremely long day of driving we thoroughly enjoyed getting out and about and witnessing some of New Zealand’s amazing natural beauty. The best thing about going to bed that night was knowing that we would get to do it all over again the next day..!

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  1. January 28, 02:57 #1 Waiotemarama Falls

    Kia ora! Thanks for visiting the Hokianga (‘the returning place’). We do hope you’ll come back again and stay for a relaxing time. There are lots of activities and events here, and a bit less touristy & expensive as Paihia/Bay of Islands. Check out our website for more information.
    Ka kite ano (see you later).
    Candy & Rawiri, Waiotemarama Falls


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