Tag Archives: Northland

Hokianga Area and Bay of Islands, New Zealand – Part 2

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The next part of our journey takes us into Hokianga Harbour, also known as the Hokianga River – a long estuarine drowned valley on the west coast.

In recent years, tourism has become significant to the region. Attractions such as the great kauri trees of the Waipoua Forest, the historic waterfront villages of Kohukohu and Rawene, with quirky cafes, Horeke basalts, amazing beaches, historic buildings, nature walks, horse trekking, boat trips and fishing are bringing more visitors every year.

The view in the evening from the Copthorne Hotel cannot be missed.

Moving across Northland to the east, we’ve now discovered an historical area of significance whereby more than 40 Māori chiefs, led by Ngāpuhi’s Hōne Heke Pokai in 1840, signed a treaty with the British Crown at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands.


Our chosen leader from the group was Dallas who did us proud in offering a leaf as a sign of our gratitude in allowing us to be part of today’s ceremony of the Haku.


War haka were originally performed by warriors before a battle, proclaiming their strength and prowess in order to intimidate the opposition, but haka are also performed for various reasons: for welcoming distinguished guests, or to acknowledge great achievements, occasions or funerals. Best known for the All Blacks footy team’s war cry before a game. Works well, they don’t lose very often.

A day trip out with GreatSights to the Hole in the Rock cruise starts at NZD102.00 per adult plus $15.00 if you’re wanting to swim with the dolphins. Children under 5 years can swim free and is subject to conditions allowing passengers to go out.


Twin Coast Discovery drive, starts and ends in Auckland and we’re more than half way.

At the township of Russell, you can easily take a walking tour.

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Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands operate regular passenger ferry services between Paihia and Russell.

On Maiki Hill behind Russell is a flagpole erected in the same position as the four that Hone Heke, the great Maori leader, cut down in protest over the treatment of his people after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

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The Bay of Islands hosts a myriad of beautiful island escapes and lots of sheep are part of the territory.  I do love sheep, especially as I had three lambs as a child and were lots of fun.

Photo courtesy of Anna Vickery.

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However, as I’ve matured my love of lamb is more so on a plate!

No other country produces better quality than NZ.

Lapping up the tranquillity and picturesque views before returning to Paihia.

Time to relax before retuning to Auckland which is about another three hours drive in decent traffic.

Heading back into Auckland is not so congested, but I’d advise to avoid the peak-hour rush.

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Last night and Maggie’s showing us her superb meal at Orbit 360° Dining. Situated at the top of Auckland’s Sky Tower, the dining room rotates once every hour with amazing panoramic views of the city, the Hauraki Gulf and beyond.

Moving on and with Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy Spaceseats, they are truly magnificent and value for money. Especially travelling long-haul flights to Los Angeles, Vancouver and London.

Going North to Northland, New Zealand – Part One

Although New Zealanders are affectionately known as Kiwis, they have as many ‘sayings’ and colloquialisms as does Aussies. And, depicted here is how I felt  finding out I was setting off to the Northland region – “sweet-as” – a term people say instead of “cool” or “awesome”.

A little later on we’re taste testing Makana Confectionary, all hand-made with only natural ingredients. Yum!

However, at the start of this journey in Auckland, we’re kicking off our first night at the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). This is New Zealand’s largest museum of its kind,  offering a fun and exciting learning experience for visitors of all ages.
The Sir Keith Park Memorial Aviation Display is available for hire as a venue and can host up to 800 guests in a cocktail-style arrangement or 350 for a seated dinner.


Next day, we’re heading off with Scenic and our driver Roger is making sure everything’s taken care of. He has a few enjoyable yarns to tell us along the way.

P1150588Leaving The Langham Hotel was hard to do as its elegant British style is synonymous with good-old-fashioned hospitality. The previous night this bar attracted people of all ages who could be seen embracing its ambience and sophistication, not to mention having quite a few bevvies.

We’re on our way north in the country known as the Long White Cloud.

Beautiful scenery all the way.

Little bit fruity, ‘eh?

The Kaurai tree, Agathis Australis, is New Zealand’s largest and most famous native tree. It’s a type of conifer tree which grows in the subtropical northern part of the North Island.

When we were told we’d be visiting a Tree Museum, I could only think of the lyrics of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi song from 1970.

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
Then they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Til it’s gone

Well that’s what almost happened to the native Kaurai Tree. Here we can see how the logging took place in the early 1900’s and almost wiped out a whole species with only 2% of forest remaining today.

You won’t pay a dollar and a half to see ’em, but at NZD25.00 per adult,  it’s definitely worthy of a visit. This museum is self funded and supports the regrowth of the region with many passionate volunteers as well lending a hand.

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Hone Heke shown with Kaurai wood inlay; known as a warrior and leader of a Māori rebellion.


Exquisite furniture made from the Kauri. When you see the grain and texture it’s easy to see why it was highly sought after for its magnificent finish when done.

And, what’s really impressive is the Gum Room collection whereby the sap from the mighty tree was being harvested and hence sold off. The overseas demand caused its demise at a rapid rate. Not as old as amber from other parts of the world,  but just as splendid.

Our guide Maria from Footprints took us on a night stroll visiting the Waipoua Forest. The largest Kaurai in existence is Tane Mahuta (Maori for ‘Lord of the Forest’) and is 4.4 metres in diameter and 17.7 metres to the first branch. It’s mandatory you have your shoes cleaned and good swiping on a mat before being allowed entry to help alleviate any carriage of diseases.

Lastly for the evening we’re shown a silver tree fern or silver fern, also known as ponga in Maori language. Although not the official symbol, it’s commonly associated with the country both overseas and by New Zealanders themselves.