Natural Wonders near the Twin Coast Cycle Trail

Eels, Wheels and warm fuzzy feels!

As you traverse coast to coast you will be surprised at the natural wonders you will find along the way, here are 5 that will create some memories!

1. The Islands

The Bay of Islands renowned for its pristine waters, great fishing and dolphin spotting, is also a haven for birdlife. Groups such as Project Island song have made it their mission to eradicate pests from the islands, in fact they now flourish with native flora, bird life and other native species such as the giant weta!  If you are in the Bay of Islands, it really is well worth while to get out to one of the islands for a walk, swim or picnic.  Furthermore the Bay of Islands Walking Tour takes in 3 of these beautiful islands – Motuarohia (Roberton), Moturua and Urupukapuka Islands. 

Top Tip If you are not on a tour – don’t miss out – you can catch a ferry to Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island and enjoy walks, swimming and relaxing.

3. Hot Springs

Ngawha mineral pools are a favourite with the locals for their healing and restorative properties. Soak in the pools  and let the ancient energy revitalise your senses while the minerals from deep in the earth permeate your body.  There are 16 different pools of varying temperatures.

 Top Tip Do not wear your best swimming costume, because the thermal mud leaves a lingering odour.

3. Lake Ōmāpere

Cycling along the stretch of the Twin Coast Cycle trail from Kaikohe to Okaihau you enjoy the view of Lake Ōmāpere, which is a small lake 5km in length and covers 14sq km, with a depth of 3m deep at its deepest point.  The Utakura River is the main outflow which goes to the Hokianga Harbour, and you continue your journey cycling along this beautiful river through the Valley and on to the Hokianga Harbour.

Lake Ōmāpere is still home to the indigenous tuna  (eel).  These tuna set off on an extraordinary migration from the lake, down the Utakura River, coming out into the Hokianga Harbour and they travel through the Habour out into the ocean.   Firstly, they swim for up to five or six months to tropical Pacific waters where they spawn and die. Secondly the eggs hatch into leaf-shaped larvae that float back to New Zealand on ocean currents. Thirdly they scale enormous obstacles heading back upstream to make it back home to the lake where they were conceived. Finally the cycle of the Tunas’ life begins once again. Essentially it is truly one of nature’s miracles!

Cycle down to the glorious Hokianga Harbour and take in the view, knowing that those tuna still have months more of swimming to go until they get to the Pacific Islands.  This epic journey never ceases to amaze!

Top Tip Share this story with your fellow cyclists and spare a thought and a prayer for the tuna as you cycle along.

4. Wairere Boulders

Around 2.8 million years ago a volcano at the site of Lake Ōmāpere erupted. This eruption was so huge that a basalt lava flow was spread across a massive area, that extended to Horeke, therefore leaving a wonderland of boulders. Walking trails through the native bush and Wairere Boulder valley allow visitors to get close to nature and see these amazing rock formations. Furthermore, you can also kayak down the gentle Wairere Stream and look at the boulders from a different angle.

Check out the main blog photo – relaxing in the sun at the swimming hole. Photo credit

Top Tip On the loop walk take a short side walk through the Nikau forest which leads you to the swimming hole, don’t forget your togs!

5. Waipoua Kauri Forest

Walk among the giants. The Giant Kauri Trees in the Waipoua Forest are spectacular. Looking up at Tāne Mahuta (the God of the Forest) which is 51.5 metres tall and has a trunk girth of 18.8 metres you feel the physical majesty.  On the Northland Experiences Cook to Kupe 5 night e-bike tour we take the Footprints Waipoua Twilight tour – as the Māori guides sing and chant to address the trees you feel that the trees are acknowledging your presence as well.  Moreover the feeling of oneness with the ngahere is incredibly strong.

Top Tip You can just visit the forest by yourself, but going on the Footprints Twilight tour at night adds a whole other dimension to your experience.

Final tip! Check out the Te Ara Coast to Coast Map

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