GO NZ: Why a Hokianga holiday is a good alternative to the Bay of Islands

Why you should skip the Bay and head to the Harbour

As I strolled along Rawene’s waterfront Russell Esplanade on a warm early-January evening, I heard a young lad behind me tell his mate, “There’s even space to park my horse here.”

I turned around to take a look. The young teenager was on foot, not horseback, but he didn’t appear to be joking. Perhaps he had wanted to ride his horse into town this evening but had worried there would be nowhere to tether it. An odd conundrum to ponder in 21st-century New Zealand, but I’m certain he was serious. In these parts of Northland — the Hokianga Harbour, on the west coast of the peninsula — life is still overwhelmingly pastoral. The idea of seeing a horse parked up in front of the Four Square doesn’t seem that silly.

Due east from the Hokianga, on the opposite coast, you’d struggle to park a horse along the main street of Paihia or Russell in the height of summer. But that’s a good reason to bypass the Bay and head to the Hokianga Harbour on your next trip to Northland.

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