Exploring the Hokianga Harbour (4 Walks)

Thursday (yesterday) was another breezy/windy day but warm enough – 15.5 degrees outside before 8am. It was overcast, with patches of blue that disappeared as the day went on. We worked out the things we wanted to see, and took the car for some exploring. We started along the road to Omapere, the town closer to the heads that Opononi runs into – it’s now just one long strip of coastal settlement. The shop there had 2/3rds of our mail that we’d had sent on. We came back towards Opononi and stopped at the info place. Here they had a bit of a museum and some old films of the Opo phenomenon. When the dolphin turned up in 1958/59 the place went mad – they had to get a traffic cop in to control the traffic jams. The films were great – as much for the snapshot of what people were wearing and driving 50 years ago. Opo was called “The Gay Dolphin” in all the news stories and publicity; presumably because she was playful and people were happy to see her.

We headed back through Opononi to the Koutu peninsula in search of the circular boulders on a beach. There was nothing signposted so it took some concerted searching but eventually we found some round boulders on a beach. They’re like the Moeraki Boulders by way of comparison, only less of them and on a harbour shore without the waves breaking. And without being charged a couple of dollars to reach the beach! So walk No.1 was successful. From there we drove further back up the harbour to Rawene where the ferry crosses to the north side. This was the ferry we caught on our first flying visit through here taking Laura to the airport at Kerikeri a month or so ago. Rawene is claimed as the 3rd oldest European settlement in the country. We enjoyed a cup of coffee in the cafe over the water and then had walk No.2 around the town looking at the old buildings. This was mostly achieved between showers. Across the harbour an old church made an interesting sight, sitting above a very small settlement we think must have been Motukaraka. They certainly built a few churches around these parts, and that one looked the most spectacular.

One of our guide books mentioned a waterfall near Whirinaki but try as we might we couldn’t find it. Looking did get us up a small road into the bush, and we managed to get back down again without meeting anything coming the other way, so we’d have to rate that a success as well. We stopped off at Opononi to check out Opo’s memorial and her burial site and headstone. And discovered that the 4Square shop had a great little butchery within with good looking produce in sensible small packages at reasonable prices. Much better than any supermarkets we’ve seen up here. Generally it seems hard to buy meat in quantities for two people. We stopped off on the way back past Suzi for a late lunch, before heading on south in the car. The shop at Omapere had the last 1/3rd of our mail, so all was well on that front. The re-addressing of it had obscured our names, but they’d still managed to figure it was for us.

We went over the hill to Waitemarama Gorge Road where there is a 15 minute walk to a waterfall. It was 5pm and the day was getting on but we had our walking boots with us so we made walk No.3 to the waterfall. It was a lovely bush walk and a nice waterfall, albeit dim by this stage. On the way back we took the side road and walked to South Head, overlooking the harbour entrance. The tide was going out and the water looked scary. The lights were on back at Opononi and it was definitely the end of the day by the time we completed walk No.4. We were soon back at Opononi and Suzi, tired explorers.

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