Buggy rides, sand dunes & history – the Hokianga has it all!

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.

View of the sand hills a few hours before I explore them on a dune buggy
View of the sand hills a few hours before I explore them on a dune buggy

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

Amazingly, one of Andrews other ancestors, Atama Paparangi, had his portrait painted seven times by the famous New Zealand –born artist, Charles Frederick Goldie (1870-1947)

 

Note: my trip around Northland was taken in my favourite car rental company NZ Rent A Car!

hokianga heads

Hokianga Heads
Amazing windblown shapes and gulleys
Amazing windblown shapes and gulley’s

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90 Mile Beach, sand toboggans & native trees

Sand Safaris take me for a full day trip to Cape Reinga – driving along  90 Mile Beach, sand-tobogganing  and I plant a native tree at the cape.

Classified as a main highway, 90-mile beach is not really ninety miles long and this is just one of the interesting facts given by our engaging driver, Senny, as we race against the incoming tide. These tours go up or down the beach one way, and the usual road route on the other.

We hear stories of cattle rustling; peat-land,large forests on sand dunes, lots of freshwater lakes; and the ultra-marathon and fishing competitions held on the this well known beach. we also see numerous birds, a cow, wild horses, and shellfish beds which the bus carefully avoids.

With no big river emptying into the Tasman the beach is free of the debris usually seen on beaches and it’s not long before we stop for photos before we head up a stream to the sand dunes and tobogganing.

we are given tips for the descent

.. and put them into action.

Lunch stop at Tapotupotu Bay … time for a very quick dip too

The top of New Zealand is Cape Reinga, and Te Ara, New Zealand’s online history encyclopaedia  says "according to ancient lore, this was final departure point for the spirit of the Maori. It was said that the spirit, after travelling up the west coast to a spot a few miles south of Cape Maria van Diemen, continued overland to the western end of Spirits Bay and eventually reached the pohutukawa tree. There it descended the roots and entered the sea. (This tree is reputed to have been in position for about 800 years and is said never to have blossomed.) "

 

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I take the 1km walk down to the lighthouse and the views are spectacular as I watch the waves of  the Tasman Sea meet the Pacific Ocean currents.

While here I’m given the opportunity to  plant a native tree to help assuage my travel-writer frequent-flyer carbon guilt.

If you too are ecologically minded, see the Seed for the Future website for more information about this local tribe (Ngati Kuri) initiative as part of their role of guardians of the sacred places around the cape … $NZ20 well spent and a living legacy of your trip there.

Leaving here we head south again, via the sealed  road this time, we head home with the bus dropping us off at our accommodation … I get off at Mainstreet, pick up my rental car and head a little further south to Shipwreck Bay and Endless Summer Lodge.

Hokianga Harbour: blue skies, sand dunes & ancient trees

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.

I have done too much in the last 24, or so, hours for a little blog, but there are plenty of stories to come out of this area from my pen and camera.  Lonely Planet raved about Footprints Waipoua  (@hokimustdos) and so will I! I took the evening guided walk – with 6 others from Canada, USA, and the Bahamas’ – and we all voted it fabulous. 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, and more. I don’t want to spoil the story now – book mark this blog and come back for more. (Or watch the airline magazines for this one!)

Another one that’s worthy of a bigger audience than this blog  – although my numbers of readers have gone up while I’ve been travelling Northland, so welcome to you who are just discovering  NZ and my travels – next overseas trip will be Turkey hopefully and, absolutely, Borneo later this year. But back to the story that deserves a post and printed article is Sandtrails Hokianga which i went on this am.

See the photo of the sun just hitting the sand dunes (taken from my room at the Copthorne Hotel &Resort Hokianga) well that was just the start of an adventure, great scenery, and an introduction to Andrew Kendall’s tribal history – including the arrival of Kupe. Like our guide last night, he is a really nice guy: what even better, this tour is an exclusive, limited to three people! I suggest you book in advance if you can.

Some photos as a taste of what’s to come  . . .

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and more. . .

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