Hokianga travel guide: Explore this unique Northland location

Hokianga is an area that surrounds the Hokianga Habour. It covers a fair amount of land and is located in the Northland region.

Boasting incredible history, unique natural formations, and plenty of charming towns, there’s a surprising amount to do in this relatively quiet area.

This Hokianga guide will cover everything you need to know including the best things to do, where to eat, and accommodation options, helping you plan your visit to Northland.

The white Hokianga ferry crossing the water, with red floatation devices on the side. The sky is filled with clouds.
The local car and passenger ferry is a good way to cut down on drive time in the Hokianga.

Getting to Hokianga

Hokianga is easily accessible from Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.

To get there you’ll need your own car and will likely drive North from Auckland, via Dargaville.

Others visit from Kaihoke and Kaitaia.

And, if you’re looking to cut down your drive whilst exploring Hokianga, it’s possible to catch a car/passenger ferry from Kohukohu to Rawene as well.

Things to do in Hokianga

As Hokianga is a district/area where you’ll find quite a few things to do – if you know where to look.

Here are some of our favourite places and activities…


Kohukohu is one of the most historic villages within Hokianga Harbour. It’s known for its relaxing atmosphere, heritage buildings and scenic views.

Not only does Kohukohu offer plenty of history, but it’s one of the larger towns within the area. As such, there’s a bit to do there.

We recommend heading along the historic village walk and visiting the local art galleries.

Don’t expect too much though – this quaint town is teeny tiny compared to most in New Zealand.

Did you know? You’ll pass through Kohukohu if you travel on the ferry. Be sure to stop by before driving out of town.

A woman looks at the one of the posters on the windows of the Kohukohu General Store with its plant items displayed in front.
The Kohukohu General Store. Photo: Phillip Capper.


Rawene is a charming town and is another place that’s full of history. It’s actually the third oldest European settlement in the country so there are plenty of heritage buildings found here.

Some of the most popular things to do in Rawene include visiting Clendon House, wandering along the Mangrove Boardwalk and heading to the local art and craft stores.

There are also a number of good cafes and restaurants round in and around Rawene.

Did you know? Rawene is on the other side of the ferry.

Colourful houses and cafes in Rawene built on top of the waters near the shore with a view of more colourful houses at a short distance on the dry land.


Next, we have Ōmāpere (with is often talked about in partnership with Opononi). This beachside town offers a laid-back atmosphere and coastal vistas.

Highlights of Ōmāpere include Pakia Hill Lookout (with its scenic views), Arai te Uru Nature Reserve and Martin’s Beach.

Don’t forget about the Signal Station Track either.


As previously mentioned, Opononi is a twin settlement with Ōmāpere.

Although both are worth a visit, Opononi has a bit more going on.

Just make sure you head to the Manea Footprints of Kupe which are located between the two.

A road with trees on one side and a beach with white sand and turquoise waters on the other side.
Photo: Andrew Lynch.

In Opononi, you’ve got the scenic Opononi Wharf; from there, you can catch a water taxi to the sand dunes opposite.

There’s also the Koutu Boulders and some awesome water activities nearby.

Did you know? Opononi was once known as being home to a friendly wild dolphin called Opo.

A wooden wharf extending to the sea and a seagull standing on one of its poles, while a view of a sandy hill is seen at a distance.
Photo: Steve Shattuck.

Opononi Sand Dunes (AKA Rangi Point Sand Dunes)

On the Northern end of the Hokianga Habour, you’ll come across Opononi Sand Dunes. They’re impressive to look at – but there’s no need to just admire them from a distance.

You can actually go sandboarding down them which is one of the region’s must-do activities!

To reach these dunes, catch a boat with Hokianga Express Charters.

Departing from Opononi wharf, these boats run from 10 am and then hourly depending on the number of passengers.

Keep in mind that the pace of life is a little different in this stunning part of New Zealand, so prepare to go with the flow when it comes to your crossing time.

The Opononi sand dunes as seen from the sea with its white, sandy beach and the dunes forming away from the waters.
Photo: tjabeljan.

Fishing charters

Aside from ferry services, Hokianga Express Charters also offer certified fishing charters upon request. Your bait and tackle will be supplied and you’ll be taken out to the Tasman Sea to throw a line in.

There’s plenty of fish in the area, and even from Hokianga Habour itself you’ve got a chance of catching kahawai, snapper and red mullet.

Wairere Boulders

The Wairere Boulders are another place you can’t miss in Hokianga.

There, you’ll find impressive geological formations in the form of clustered basalt racks.

To reach the Wairere Boulders, there are a few tracks you can choose from. These walks range from 40 minutes to two hours.

So, throw on your walking shoes, stock up on snacks and head this the trails at Wairere Boulders.

70 McDonnell Road, Horeke 0475

A bridge built on top of a river with huge boulders.
Photo: Shellie Evans.

Waipoua Forest & Tāne Mahuta

Waipoua Forest is one of the area’s highlights, and though it’s not actually in Hokianga, it’s a place not to be missed.

It is the country’s most famous kauri forest and is home to ancient trees and native birdlife. All of which is accessible on short, easy walking tracks.

The most famous resident of all in this forest is Tāne Mahuta. As the largest kauri tree in New Zealand (at an impressive 52 metres tall) it’s still growing!

You’ll also get to see Te Matua Ngahere which is another kauri tree that’s around 2,500 to 3,000 years old.

Stepping into this forest is quite a spiritual experience, so be prepared to take your time and soak it all up.

Two visitors standing close by the biggest kauri tree, the Tane Mahuta, marvelling at its huge trunks which is surrounded by trees and bushes.
Tāne Mahuta, our largest known living kauri tree. Photo: Miles Holden.

Visit the nearby Kai Iwi Lakes

Now, these lakes aren’t officially in the Hokianga either, but they’re very close (and drop-dead gorgeous) so it would be a pity not to visit them!

There are three lakes in total, and each one offers a white-sand shore and relatively shallow waters (before dropping off into the deep).

Whilst here, you can head out for a swim, explore via kayak, or try fishing for trout.

Our favourite thing to do at Kai Iwi, however, is just to simply relax and soak up the stunning scenery.

296 Domain Road, Omamari 0373

The stunning Kai Iwi Lakes with its beautiful turquoise waters, bushy beaches and sandy shores on the other side.
Photo: Shellie Evans.

Places to eat in Hokianga

The Boatshed Cafe, Rawene

The Boatshed Cafe is one of the most popular dining options in Hokianga. It’s right by Rawene Wharf so naturally, you’ll be treated to scenic views of the surrounding area.

Considering this cafe is pretty small, they offer a variety of dishes so you’re sure to find something to your taste.

8 Clendon Esplanade, Rawene

A New Era Cafe, Rawene

Next up we have A New Era Cafe which is also located in Rawene. It’s situated within the No.1 Parnell Art Gallery and is especially famous for its tasty treats – including cheesecake!

There are also some great starters and mains, so you’ve got solid options if you want something a bit more substantial.

1 Parnell Street, Rawene

The Heads Bar & Restaurant, Omapere

Offering fantastic harbour views, a spacious outdoor area and delicious seafood, The Heads Bar & Restaurant is a great spot for a meal.

The kitchen there strives to use the freshest ingredients so you’re in for a treat when dining here.

334 Hokianga Harbour Drive, Ōmāpere, 0473

Kai To Go, Kohukohu

If you’d prefer a quick bite then check out Kai To Go which is a takeaway shop in Kohukohu. It has variety of delicious options including fresh fish and chips, burgers and pizzas.

They also do some awesome vegan and vegetarian options, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

41 Beach Rd, Kohukohu

Opononi Beach Takeaways, Opononi

If you’re a burger fan then you need to visit Opononi Beach Takeaways.

This place is famous for its large servings and delicious burgers, so it’s no wonder that it’s so popular.

From here, you’ll also get awesome views of the harbour and the towering sand dunes.

23 Hokianga Harbour Drive, Opononi

Where to stay in Hokianga

Here are a few accommodation options if you’re planning to stay in Hokianga.

Remember, this region is fairly spread apart, so consider the different locations when picking your preferred spot, and be mindful – you won’t find 5-star hotels in this part of New Zealand.

Budget: Brockies B&B

This charming little place in Rawene includes several spacious rooms, some of which feature sea views.

On-site, you’ll have access to a shared lounge, a garden area, and a shared kitchen.

You’ll also be in a great area for hiking. In fact, guests highly rate the location of this little B&B.

4 Mariner Street, Rawene 0473

Mid-range: Opononi Lighthouse Motel

This motel is undoubtedly one of the best places to stay in Opononi – and one of the most unique with a little lighthouse right out the front too!

It has a BBQ area, a hot tub, self-service laundry and free WiFi so you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck by staying here too.

There are a variety of rooms and apartments to choose from, with some including ocean views and private patios.

45 State Highway 12, Opononi 0473

Holiday home: Waiotemarama Falls Lodge

Lucky last on our list is the Waiotemarama Falls Lodge which is situated between Opononi and Ōmāpere.

There, you’ll benefit from a full kitchen, laundry services, a sun terrace and a large garden area.

When staying here, you’ll have the whole house to yourself (two bedrooms), so it’s perfect for families and small groups.

356 Waiotemarama Gorge Road, Opononi 0473

As you can see there are lots of awesome places to visit in Hokianga. Whether you’re looking to fish or hit up some of the charming towns, this unique part of Aotearoa is worth visiting.

Have you ever been to Hokianga?

If you have, what was your favourite thing to do? Let us know in NZTT.

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