There is something amazing about this place. It’s feels familiar. It feels alien. It feels like home. It feels like nowhere you’ve ever been before. All at the same time.
Of course, there is a beach. But it’s a wild, west coast beach. There is forest. But the forest has the largest Kauri tree in New Zealand ‘Tane Mahuta – Lord of the Forest’, a whopping 52.1 metres tall.
“According to the Maori creation myth, Tāne is the son of Ranginui the sky father and Papatuanuku the earth mother. Tāne separates his parents from their marital embrace until his father the sky is high above mother earth. Tāne then sets about clothing his mother with vegetation. The birds and the trees of the forest are regarded as Tāne’s children.”
Hokianga has an important history, being the place where legendary Polynesian explorer, Kupe, first settled in 925AD. It is considered one of the oldest Maori settlements. Later, when the Kauri wood trade opened up, there were many wrecks and lives lost as ships battled against ‘the bar’ where the tumultuous sea meets the calm harbour waters.
On one side of the natural harbour’s mouth are two towns – Opononi and Omapere. Opononi is famous for being the home of Opo the Friendly Dolphin, way back in the mid 1950’s, a wonderful thing to be famous for, even though she met a sticky end. On Saturday, the tiny Opononi Hotel has Dave Dobbyn playing – I still have no idea who he is (shock horror!) but he is being accompanied by the rather brilliant NZ rock band Midnight Youth. I can’t go – I’m camping. Damn.
On the other side of the harbour are, of all things, sand dunes. The Hokianga Express crosses the water every hour to take people sandboarding. It’s brilliant fun, and if you really go for it you end up sailing into the sea, your board becoming a surf board.
And after the sand-boarding/forest-trekking/beach-combing, there are the essential Kiwi staples to tuck into at Opononi’s Chippy – fush & chups and L & P!
I could go on… and on… and on about the Hokianga, because I truly am in love with both the simplicity and the complexity of it. But sometimes, all you need is a photo or two.