In September 2020 we unpacked the car in Paihia and stayed two months in Northland’s wildly beautiful Far North. Here are my favorite walks/daytrips around the blue dot on the map: Paihia, Russell and Kerikeri.
Paihia – Bay of Islands Gateway
Paihia was our base – a small seaside tourist community.
My Favorite Walk – Paihia to Opua
Two hours one-way, from town to town…must have done this walk at least once a week.
The full Opua Coastal Walk (8.2 km) loops across the water through Russell via two ferries, a forest and a mangrove.
Russell/Kororāeka- a town of historic debauchery prior to the Waitaingi Treaty (CLICK HERE. “It earned a very bad reputation as a community without laws and full of prostitution. It became known as the “Hell Hole of the Pacific”, despite the translation of its name being ‘How sweet is the penguin'”, (source: wikipedia/Russell New Zealand).
We stayed a week in Tapeka Bay, Russell at the north end of the peninsula – every day a new trail.
Tapeka Hill Track
Waipiro Bay Near Russell
The Hole in the Rock – Sailing from Russell
The BEST – Urupukapuka Island
Urupukapuka (“a group of puka trees“), NZ’s largest pest-free reserve, is the largest of 144 islands in the Bay of Islands. Trails meander alongside grazing sheep. (Be mindful of the gates and the poop.)
Kerikeri, 30 minutes from Paihia, is a larger town with retirement appeal: ample shops and services.
The Kerikeri River Track commences behind The Stone Store (an 1822 Mission Station) NZ’s oldest surviving stone building. Treks to multiple waterfalls are through forests with giant old soul trees.
Rainbow Falls – 27 meters (88 ft)
The River Track is 2-hour walk to the falls (or 10 minutes from a carpark).
Wharepuke Falls (enroute to Rainbow Falls on the River Track)
Te Wairere – “The Waterfall” (aka Secret Waterfall)
Lost for 60 years, this 2-hour trail reopened in 2017.
A sweet swimming hole. The track was not accessible (“temporarily closed”), unless you climbed over the ditch and balanced over the waterworks-in-progress, and pushed on. (I wasn’t the only one!)
Haruru – “Big Noise”
Three-hour walk from Paihia via the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (or 5 minutes from a carpark). Māori legend says a water monster (tainwha) lives in the lagoon.
I did a lot of walking…Steve’s joy was Omata Vineyard, Russell.
Next Posts: Short drives east/north from Kerikeri are heaps of coastal walks with breathless views, and west are ancient kauri forests. At the tiptop is Cape Reinga – take a deep breath and click HERE to view the post Cape Reinga – Where Spirts Soar.