361 Days on the Road
It’s our final day in Hokianga, the New Zealand home of the first Maori explorers, and today we are going to explore more of the coastline. We’ve travelled inland to waterfalls, and walked in among kauri giants in the Waipoua Forest at dusk, but are yet to travel on the edges of the culturally significant and naturally wonderful harbour.
Checking out the Koutu Boulders
We hit the to road to check out the Koutu Boulders. Hopefully, this will make up for the last time we tried to check out their South Island rivals, the Moeraki Boulders when we made the mistake of arriving at low tide. This time, we hope to see some full perfectly rounded boulders, dammit!
After navigating a sloppy gravel road made nice and slippery thanks to the downpour of rain this morning, we follow the signs and easily find our way to the Koutu Boulders car park. From here, we follow a 4×4 trail past mangrove forests onto the beach. The Hokianga Harbour is known for being a seafood and shellfish mecca, which become instantly evident with every crunch our feet take in the shell-covered sand! There are all sorts of shell, even ones that are occupied by little creatures.
That’s not all the sand is occupied with though, as we start to see some small rounded boulders dotted about the sand. These ones are kind of cute, but we can see some larger ones starting to get engulfed in the incoming tide. Oh no, it’s happening again! Did we forget to check the tide times? This just encourages us to walk faster toward the largest boulder silhouettes in the distance.
Cheesy tourist photos on the perfectly rounded boulders!
The closer we get to those large perfectly rounded silhouettes, the more we realise just how many boulders there are on this beach. Some are even strangely cracked in the middle, looking like mushrooms. As we arrive at the massive boulders, there’s only one thing to do: jump on them and take some cheesy ass photos! Done!
Nerding out on the birds
On the way back, we spot heaps of wading birds making use of the amount of seafood in the Hokianga Harbour. Stilts lift their ridiculously large legs in and out of the water, while cute little kingfishers dive into the water in between perching themselves on top of the boulders. Notably, these birds are doing their thing a little further inland then they were before, meaning we need to hustle to beat the tide.
We’re having way too much fun taking these photos
The Arai Te Uru Recreation Reserve
Back on the road, we decide to hit some of the higher coastal areas to capture some views. We are heading to the Arai Te Uru Recreation Reserve which is just on the way up a hill outside of Omapere. It is easily identified by a large brown sign simply saying: “Lookout”.
We arrive at a carpark with a huge information display telling the history of the Hokianga Harbour. You can learn more about Kupe, the famous Maori explorer and navigational expert who discovered New Zealand. Here, also marks the start of many different walks ranging from 10 minutes to five days! We decide to take something in between called the Signal Station Track.
Epic coastal views
The walk starts with a large picnic area and viewing platform overlooking the awesome scenery of the Hokianga Harbour. Raging waves make their way into the harbour mouth, which then continue on a journey stretching to faraway beaches backed by high sand dunes. It really is a stunning place.
Continuing on the track starts to reveal views on the other side of the hill – bush-filled valleys full of fast-flying birds. The low-lying trees are all on a crazy lean looking completely windswept. It’s not long before we find ourselves walking under the cover of them.
Along the way, there are viewpoints to enjoy every two minutes. One that’s just too good not to take a picture is the one looking down onto Martins Bay – a bright white sandy beach. Paradise!
The power of the ocean
The view we are waiting for is the one right at the end of the Signal Station Track. Here, we revel in the rugged coastline outside of the Hokianga Harbour and down onto Waimamaku Beach. Large barrel waves can be seen crashing far out to sea just to show us how far the sand dunes go out. These waves are make their way toward the rocky coast where they have shaped holes in the rock and made little islands.
Beating the rain back to base
Behind us, back toward the harbour, we can see the low-lying dark cloud engulfing the views. Before long, that rain is going to catch up with us, so we hustle back taking a different track past compact sand dune features and also finding that the birds have ducked for cover. It’s crazy how the weather changes so fast in New Zealand, especially up north. We have been lucky enough to see some epic coastal sights in such a short amount of time.
Three more days to go!
We decide to cower out of the rain back at our accommodation, make an early dinner, and play some card games. Yes, it kind of sounds like we are a retired couple now, which is probably due to living such a fast-paced life this year! Doing 365 Days of 365 Activities really makes us feel like we’ve lived an entire lifetime in just one year. It’s crazy, but we love it. It’s not long now until it’s all over – just three days! Ah!
We beat the weather to the edge of Hokianga Harbour!
Why wouldn’t you? Get your eyes on these articles!
- Hokianga – Guide for Backpackers
- 10 Reasons to Stop in Hokianga
- 21 Crazy Rock Formations in New Zealand
See you tomorrow!