Kaikohe - The HUB of the North
The NZMCA’s 48th Motorhome Friendly Town, Kaikohe, is described as the hub of the north. It is within 50km of such great sites and attractions as the Bay of Islands, the giant kauri trees at Waipoua Forest, Hokianga Harbour, the Puketi and Omahuta Kauri forests, Kawiti (formerly Waiomio) limestone caves and much more.
It is 260km north of Auckland and just 30 km from the district’s largest town, Kerikeri, or from Paihia in the Bay of Islands. Kaikohe is the gateway to the Hokianga Harbour and the popular beaches of Opononi and Omapere. You will also drive through Kaikohe on the way to the picturesque town of Rawene on the Hokianga Harbour, the southern terminus of the Hokianga car ferry. The historical home of Ngapuhi, Aotearoa’s largest iwi, Kaikohe was originally a village called Opango, but was renamed in the early 19th century after a rival Maori tribe raided the village. Opango fugitives subsisted among the Kohekohe trees on Tokareireia (Kaikohe Hill). The village then became known as Kaikohekohe (kai meaning food), which was later shortened to Kaikohe.
The warrior chief Hone Heke settled in Kaikohe, and died there in 1850. His grand-nephew Hone Heke Ngapua, MP for Northern Maori, also lived in Kaikohe. In April 1911, a monument to him was unveiled on Kaikohe Hill by Sir Tui Carroll, the acting Prime Minister. A park in the town is also dedicated to Rawiri Taiwhanga, said to be New Zealand’s first commercial dairy farmer. He milked a herd of cows and sold butter in 1834. Kaikohe was linked to the national rail network in 1914 and after the First World War returned servicemen settled there. During the Second World War, Kaikohe was a base for an American army hospital and air force bomber unit.
Te Waimate Mission is New Zealand’s second oldest building and preserves missionary, farming and architectural history, as well as stories of important early encounters between Maori and Europeans. The Far North District Council is headquartered in the town, which also boasts the District Court, Northern Police Centre, and a number of government agencies, including the Ministry of Education and Department of Corrections. Some of the major attractions in and around Kaikohe include the Pioneer Village, which includes several restored historic buildings including New Zealand’s oldest courthouse, an 1875 cottage, a jail, a school and more. The museum is bursting with Maori taonga, traction engines, tractors, kauri gum, vehicles, logging and milling equipment. You’ll also see Maori artefacts, gum-digging equipment and a blacksmith’s shop.
Monument Hill offers excellent views and is a beautiful place for a picnic. Six kilometres east of Kaikohe is Ngawha Hot Springs. Known for their therapeutic properties, the pools are ideal for a relaxing soak after a day’s travelling. The pools range from a relatively cool 32 degrees to the extremely hot ‘Favourite’ and ‘Doctor’ pools. Entry costs $4 per adult. The 84km Twin Coast Trail – the country’s only coast to coast cycle trail runs along the edge of Kaikohe township. And the nearby Wairere Boulders geological park is home to some amazing basalt rock formations, some over 10m high.
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