Hokianga Harbour — Dargaville (1-2 days, 113km)
The Kauri Coast Cycleway starts from the historic settlement of Rawene and heads out to the Hokianga Harbour entrance.
It then turns inland to travel up through the Waipoua Kauri Forest, before following farmland through to Dargaville and out to the mouth of the Kaipara Harbour.
Highlights of the trail include the twin settlements of Omapere and Opononi set alongside the beautiful Hokianga Harbour, the kauri trees of the Waipou Forest including Tane Mahuta, and the Trounson Kauri Park, a restoration ‘mainland island’ forest reserve.
To start following the trail, take a bus from Auckland to Kaitaia and follow the Far North Cycleway down to Rawene, or bus to Dargaville and ride north from there.
There is a range of food and accommodation options available at the start and end points of the trail at Rawene and Dargaville. There is also a tavern at Kaihu.
DARGAVILLE HERITAGE HUB: As this is New Zealand’s ‘kumara capital’, it’s no surprise to find a museum dedicated to farm machinery here. Harding Park is home to vintage tractors, harvesters and logging equipment. Dargaville’s main museum reveals stories of the area’s maritime, logging and gum-digging history. For a small town Dargaville boasts a lot of art and craft, a prime example being The Woodturners Kauri Studio, which showcases kauri carvings and gives access to a workshop to see how it’s done. For amazing views of the region, take a short sharp walk to needle-like Tokatoka Peak.
TANE MAHUTA: Waipoua Forest is the domain of New Zealand’s largest living Kauri, Tane Mahuta, ‘Lord of the Forest’. This imposing giant has a 13.77m girth, a trunk height of 17.68m and a total height of 51.5m.
RIDING THE TRAIL
Hokianga Harbour to Dargaville – Grade 3 Intermediate
Cycle out of Rawene on Parnell Road. At the T-intersection with Highway 12, turn right and cycle to Opononi and on to Omapere. There are a couple of short hills in this section but good coastal views as well. Opononi and Omapere have places to eat and stay.
There is a sharp 110-metre climb out of the far side of Omapere.
Twelve kilometres on from Omapere is the small settlement of Waimamaku, which has a café and Four Square grocery store.
Beyond Waimamaku, the road climbs into the kauri forest. A small descent leads to the car park and takeaways caravan at the start of the 1-minute walk to New Zealand’s most famous tree, Tane Mahuta.
From Tane Mahuta, the road is mostly downhill for 10 km.
Just after crossing the Waipoua River bridge, it is possible to detour 1km to the right to Café Forest, which is part of an information site. This information centre has camping and cabin options. Alternatively continue straight ahead on SH 12 and up a 5km climb through forest and across farmland.
About 7km from the bridge, either continue to follow SH 12 or take the gravel road to the east. The distance is the same. The gravel option will be quieter but slower travel.
If taking the gravel route: follow the road down to Donnellys Crossing, turn right onto Trounson Park Road and cycle 8km to Trounson Kauri Park. Just after the kauri park, veer right to continue along Trouson Park Road and back up to SH 12. Turn left to continue towards Dargaville.
For a quieter cycle into Dargaville, 22km past Kaihu, turn left off SH 12 onto Parore West Road. Turn right at Waihue Road, which becomes Hokianga Road as it hits the outskirts of town. This leads to the centre of Dargaville.
Acknowledgment: The information for this write up is from Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails by the Kennett Brothers.
Riding surface: 90% sealed road, 10% gravel road.
Waipoua experiences a lot of rain. It is necessary to carry a good raincoat at all times.
Water and food is available to buy at the start and end points of Rawene and Dargaville. Free drinkable water is available at the Dargaville Museum.
There are various accommodation options along the route, including at Waipoua Forest, Trounson Kauri Park and further along Trouson Park Road at the Top Ten Holiday Park.