ANY ONE FOR A GAME OF BOWLS?
If you feel a game of bowls with balls up to 3 metres in diameter is just what you need, take a walk on the beach between Koutu and Kauwhare points on the south shore of the Hokianga Harbour where you will find the Koutu Boulders, one of the Hokianga’s better kept secrets.
The boulders are excellent examples of concretions : hardened nodules that form within sedimentary rocks. The word concretion comes from Latin and means “grown together”. They are composed of the same material as the surrounding rock and they form when a cementing mineral binds grains of sediment into a cohesive mass. It has been estimated that the largest of the boulders may have taken 5 million years to grow.
There are other examples of concretions around New Zealand, the most publicized being the Moeraki boulders south of Oamaru. The Concretions in the Hokianga are found on both sides of the Harbour, and are numerous beneath the surface of the surrounding land – just ask anybody who has tried to position a specimen tree.
The boulders on the beach have been released from their soft host rock by erosion and simply rolled down and accumulated on the beach. Many people ask why are they spherical. The most likely explanation is that a small core rolled around on the sediment on the ocean floor and grew bigger much like a snowball does. You can see the core of many of the boulders that have split in half. If you would like to walk among the boulders, head about 6 Km towards Kaikohe from Opononi, and you will find Koutu Loop Road on your left. If you are coming from the North or East, head about 10 Km past the Rawene turnoff towards Opononi, through the settlement of Whirinaki and at the foot of the saddle on the Opononi side you will see Koutu Loop Road on your right.
Drive around Koutu Loop Road, through the settlement of Koutu, and from where the seal ends another Km will bring you to Waione Road on your left. Drive about 100 metres along Waione Road past the Macrocarpa trees on the corner, and park on the left near the old cattle yards. From there walk along the beach. The further you walk the bigger the boulders get.
The walk is an easy one for all ages, best done within the two hours either side of low tide. At any time you can walk along the beach but at high tide it can be a bit of a scramble.
A second access to the harbour and the really big boulders has recently been provided by Council.
Drive to the end of Waione Road, and where the road forks take the right hand fork, Cabbage Tree Bay Road.
Drive about 750 metres, almost to the end of the road. Just past the entrance to number 76 you will see where a small parking area has been created on the right hand side of the road. Park your vehicle here.
On the left of the parking area (looking towards the Harbour) there is a path which leads down to the beach. It is a bit steep but walkable depending when the grass was last cut,
Once on the beach, walk to the right for about 30 to 40 minutes and you will see some of the real giants among the Koutu Boulders.
It is best to do the walk within two hours either side of low tide.
If you walk on the harbour side of the mangroves, sort of at the high tide line, you will find a sandy track most of the way. Where the small stream comes out of the farmland you may have to make your way from high spot to high spot. If you keep away from the farm fence line there are no deep spots.
At the bottom of the track down to the beach there is a small reserve which is a great spot for a picnic. On a bright sunny day don’t forget to take your water bottle.