Explore Opononi and Omapere in the Hokianga Harbour
The Hokianga Harbour is full of beauty and history. Over 1,000 years ago, the first Māori arrived in New Zealand on the shores of Hokianga and some of the earliest European settlements were built here. Two of the most popular towns to explore Hokianga are Opononi and Omapere. These seaside settlements provide amazing harbour views and are within driving distance of Hokianga’s main attractions. What are those attractions? Well, take a look at the list of the things to do in Opononi and Omapere!
1. Check Out the Koutu Boulders
You might have heard of the Moeraki Boulders in the South Island but have you heard of the Koutu Boulders? Northland has its own set of perfectly spherical boulders found on the edge of the Hokianga Harbour. They are best seen along the beach at low tide!
Location: Waione Road off Koutu Loop Road, approximately 8 minutes drive from Opononi.
2. Walk in the Arai Te Uru Reserve
The Arai Te Uru Reserve, or Hokianga Heads, is a culturally significant place where it is said the first Māori explorer, Kupe, arrived in New Zealand. There are several walks to enjoy the stunning coast of the Arai Te Uru area, including the 15-minute Signal Station Track to a scenic viewpoint, and the 4-hour Waimamaku Coastal Track. There’s also a 5-minute walk down to the picturesque Martins Bay.
Location: Signal Station Road off State Highway 12, approximately 2 minutes drive from Omapere.
3. Visit New Zealand’s Largest Kauri Tree in the Waipoua Forest
See some of the most breathtaking trees in New Zealand in the Waipoua Forest. Short walks lead to Tane Mahuta – the Lord of the Forest, and Tane Matua Ngahere – the Father of the Forest. These are the largest and oldest living kauri trees in New Zealand. Either enjoy the walks to the kauri trees via the walking tracks or take a guided cultural tour with Footprints Waipoua who provide pick-ups in Opononi and Omapere.
Location: Waipoua Forest, 20 minutes drive south of Omapere along State Highway 12.
4. Check Out Waiotemarama Falls
For a picturesque bush walk and to see the beautiful Waiotemarama Falls, take the Waiotemarama Loop Walk. This 2 hrs 30 mins loop takes you past large kauri stands and across a shallow stream to see a 20 m (66 ft) waterfall.
Location: Waiotemarama Gorge Road (gravel road), 15 minutes drive from Omapere.
5. Experience the Māori Culture at Manea, The Footprints of Kupe
Learn about the Māori culture and get a hands-on cultural experience at Manea, The Footprints of Kupe. Immerse in the ancient story of Kupe, the first Maori to arrive in New Zealand, and learn about Māori customs and traditions through a pōwhiri ceremony, a 4D cinema experience, and the Footprints of Kupe Interactive Gallery.
Location: 41 Hokianga Harbour Drive, Opononi.
6. Sandboard Down the Niua Sand Dunes
The North Head sands dunes, otherwise known as Niua, are an amazing playground created by nature! Boat trips, such as with Hokianga Express, depart from Opononi to the sand dunes and usually provide the bodyboards for you.
Location: Access by boat via Opononi Wharf.
7. Marvel at the Wairere Boulders
Explore this fascinating valley filled with weathered basalt rocks of all shapes and sizes. The Wairere Boulders Nature Park has a number of walks from 40 minutes to 2 hours to explore the large boulders, streams and 24 wooden structures. This place is an epic photo opportunity not to be missed!
Location: 70 McDonnell Road, Horeke, approximately 45 minutes drive from Opononi.
8. Visit Horeke
This picturesque little port town is the second oldest town in New Zealand and a must-visit for lovers of history and charming towns. Taking a walk through the town will reveal New Zealand’s first pub, New Zealand’s first post office, the first murder trial, oldest headstones, first commercial shipyard and more! Check out more places like this in the 10 Historical Places in Northland You Can’t Miss.
Location: Horeke, approximately 50 minutes drive from Opononi.
9. Step Back in Time in Rawene and Kohukohu
For more history of the Hokianga Harbour, visit Rawene and take the ferry to Kohukohu. Rawene is the third oldest European town in New Zealand with some excellent cafes, galleries like the Boatshed Gallery, and the historic Clendon House – a heritage house that witnessed the Treaty of Waitangi. You can also take the scenic car and passenger ferry trip over to Kohukohu where you can pick up a map and do a historic walk through the Victorian town or visit the art galleries: Village Arts and Art of This World Gallery.
Location: Rawene, approximately 20 minutes drive from Opononi.
10. Take it All in from the Pakia Hill Lookout
Finally, before you head south perhaps to the Waipoua Forest or Dargaville, get one last look at the beauty of the Hokianga Harbour from the Pakia Hill Lookout. The lookout is signposted along the roadside of State Highway 12 between Te Hunoke and Newton Roads. Enjoy majestic views of Omapere, the harbour and sand dunes beyond.
Location: State Highway 12, approximately 1 km (0.6 mi) south of Omapere.
More Things to Do Near Opononi, Omapere and Hokianga
Omapere, Opononi and the Hokianga Harbour are in a section of the Northland region known as the Kauri Coast. Find out what else you can get up to in this area of the North Island in the following guides:
- 10 Best Things to Do in Dargaville
- 15 Best Things to Do in Mangonui, Doubtless Bay
- 10 Best Things to Do in Ahipara
Finally, plan the rest of your trip around Te Ika-a-Māui with the 51 Best Things to Do on the North Island.