Koutu Point, Koutu Boulders, Whiria Mountain, Pakanae
This trip starts in Opononi.
From Opononi head East on SH 12 towards Kaikohe. About 5 km from Opononi look for a road on your left, Koutu Loop Road.
Follow Koutu Loop Road until you come to Koutu settlement and when the road swings to the right, instead go straight ahead into Koutu Point Road. Park in the parking area on the point. This is the site of the Kauri Timber Mill, which once boasted the largest band saw in the southern hemisphere. If you walk around the foreshore to the left you will see the remains of the wharf that saw millions of feet of sawn timber, mainly Kauri, shipped to Auckland or overseas. Koutu was also the site, in 1836, of an industrial dispute known as the ‘Battle of the Plank.’
Return along Koutu Point Road and when you meet the seal, turn left. Follow Koutu Loop Road to the next road on the left, Waione Road. Turn into Waione Road and after about 100m park in the area near the old cattle yards.
Walk around the foreshore and note the spherical Koutu Boulders, which get bigger the further you go. The largest we have found so far is over 5 metres in diameter.
Return to SH12 and turn left towards Opononi. About 1 km towards Opononi note the steep hill on your right. This is the site of Whiria Pa, home of the Ngapuhi chief, Rahiri, who united the Ngapuhi and drove the other tribes out of the Hokianga. Note the terraces at the top of the hill where buildings once stood.
If you look to the right (East) of the hill you can pick out two Norfolk Pine trees. These mark the site of Newark, the second Methodist Mission, established in 1836. For lack of success in converting the local Maori, the missionaries gave up after 5 years and returned to their primary base at Mangungu, near Horeke.
A little further on, on your left, is Pakanae Marae and St. Luke ’s Church. Visitors aren’t welcome on the Marae except by invitation, but in the grounds is a memorial to Kupe, the first Maori to establish in New Zealand.