Well here we are parked at Wagener Campground at the Houhora Heads.  We are here for a week on a special NZMCA rate.  This will allow us to catch up on odd jobs, recharge everything in sight, explore more of the region and then move on.

 31park 32park

The most unusual sight to greet us as we drove in was this Yucca in flower.  The bottom section has flowered and is now producing seed.  The yellow section is the flowers that have developed and opened and finally the green section is immature flowers waiting to open.  So all three stages of flowering are occurring progressively along the length of the flowering stem.


As usual there are lots of gulls with this one taking an interest in the photographer.


After settling in for a few days we decided to undertake an Expotition as Pooh would say.  We set out to explore a number of beaches located not far north of here that we had bypassed on the way down.  They either had no camping facilities or the DOC camps were closed at this time of year, so we had not stopped at them.

First up was Rarawa Beach, which presented somewhat of a tongue twister.   This turned out to be a beautiful ocean beach about four km off the main highway.

The entrance to the beach is along side a stream which flows past a lovely stand of Pohutukawa, which must add a great display during late spring.

2Rarawa 3rawara

The beach extends for some kilometres to the South to a headland.  And looking to the north one can see the silica sandhills at the entrance to the Parengarenga Harbour


At the southern end of the beach there is another stream and it is here that the DOC camp is located (Paxton Point) behind a stand of mature pines. The facilities look good and there is probably little reason to close it except for the softness of a number of areas in the camp.  We will definitely return here in late spring or early autumn before or after the summer crowds.   There is a track leading alongside the stream to the beach where the spit of sand contains nesting sites for a number of wading birds.

7rarawa  6rarawa 

Next stop was Henderson point and Henderson Bay, this was about seven kilometres off the main road and ended at a point well above the bay with no road access to the Bay but a steep walking track down.  Henderson Bay extends to the south and is at the top of the outer bar of Houhora Harbour. 

There is a small community of houses, and while there is a couple of POPs there is no real camping ground.  While we were looking around a local man appeared coming in from the sea in a small dinghy.  After he had hauled out he came up to the road and showed us a very fine Snapper he had caught about 500 metres off the rocks in front of the road end.  Apparently there is still good fishing to be had.

The photo shows the rocks at the road end and the view to the southern end of the Bay.

 9henderson 10henderson

Back into the car for a drive through to the Houhora Tavern which is a few kms north of the main township.  These two relics sit beside the tavern looking a little worse for wear.  One building housed the Post Office on one side and the other side the information centre.


 11Houhora Tavern 12hotel

The tavern itself is looking a little less loved than it perhaps could be.  It’s for sale if you are interested.


Next we headed out to the west coast to ninety mile beach at Hukatere.  Of course we all know that it is not actually 90 miles long, but 55 miles (88 km) long.  Still, it is a damn long stretch of sand.  There is a camp ground on this side of the coast so we headed along the ‘road’ to check it out.  Hmmm, I doubt we will be taking the van to this ground, the access road is long, narrow, riddled with pot holes and meanders through sand dunes for around a kilometre before ending up at a very uneven grassy patch.

 14road to Hukatere 15road to hukatere

the sand dunes encroaching onto the access road

Out onto the beach itself, we didn’t venture too far along the beach as the tide was on its was in and we did not want to tempt fate and become one of the many vehicles that become trapped.  We parked and had our picnic lunch before venturing off for a stroll along the beach.


16ninetymilebeachnorth 17nientymile 

Back into the car and off into Houhora to check out the sights, first we found these amazing sculptures made from driftwood.

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Haast eagle and moa

21moa 25haasteagle

Herd of Moa? or perhaps a clutch of Moa?


Moa                                                 detail of moa22WhaleWhale

From there it was down to the wharf where a number of locals were fishing with varying success.


We did find the following little fellow eagerly awaiting a few crumbs.

27bird 28bird

The following day the heavens opened and the winds were ferocious.  It wasn’t too long before we had a mini lake formed outside our vehicles, although Brian and Marj were in it a little deeper than we were.

29rain 30lake

Lake forming                                   Knee deep!

As quickly as it came, it soon disappeared although the winds remained strong for at least another day.


2 Responses to “Houhora”

  1. Stuartinnz Says:

    Te Rarawa are the local iwi up that way, so you may need to practice twisting your tongues!

  2. Serena Dempsey Says:

    Hi there. Lovely pics. Do you have any more of the Tavern? I am interested in it. Thanks.

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