Magic Cottages at Takou River are centrally located in New Zealand's "Winterless North". Ideally placed to explore the wider Bay of Islands area and the Far North's attractions, yet positioned away from the hustle and bustle of tourist towns.
Kerikeri is a thriving small town with vibrant cafés, farmers' markets, award winning restaurants, wineries and diverse Maori and contemporary arts and crafts. It is a convenient 20-minute drive from Magic Cottages, while the marine attractions at Paihia, the historic town of Russell and Treaty House at Waitangi are all easily accessible 40 minutes away. The unspoilt Whangaroa Harbour and beautiful beaches at Matauri Bay are just 25 minutes north. Inland the majestic giant Kauri Forests are just 25 minutes drive. Doubtless Bay and the picturesque village of Mangonui are just 40 minutes away, and an easy day trip will take you to the pristine and giant sand dunes at 90-mile beach and the very top of New Zealand at Cape Reinga. Venturing across to the west coast takes you to the majestic sand dunes and Hokianga Harbour, the seaside villages of Opononi and Omapere, quaint historic Harbour villages of Rawene and across the ferry to Kohkohu. Heading down the west coast and you reach the Waipoua Forest and Tane Mahuta, or 'Lord of the Forest', the largest known living Kauri Tree in New Zealand.
MAORI & EUROPEAN HISTORY
Takou River and the surrounding Bay of Islands area are steeped in local history from the first Maori who used the Takou River many centuries ago to the Early Europeans who settled here in 1860. Reminders of that history are still evident - the Monument to the Waka Mataatua sits on the riverbank just upstream from the cottages and the stone fireplace from the original European settlers' Kauri villa has been retained as part of the Summer House – the original villa burning down over 50 years ago.
The Bay of Islands is known not only for its beauty and climate, but also as one of New Zealand's most significant historic areas. It supported a large Maori population and was the scene of much early contact and conflict. Kororipo Pa the site of a Maori fortified village together with Rewa's Village a full scale reconstruction of a Maori Village in pre-European times provide an insight into early Maori way of life. Both are set around the beautiful Kerikeri Basin.
The oldest surviving European Stone and Wooden buildings are also found around the Kerikeri Basin. The Stone Store built from 1832-36 and the Kerikeri Mission House or Kemp House built in 1821/22 have been preserved and provide insight into the local early European history.
A visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, House and Visitor Information Centre, the site of the signing of Treaty of Waitangi, the founding document of modern day New Zealand are an essential element for anyone interested in the history of New Zealand. Just a 40-minute drive from Takou River, Waitangi is only minutes from Paihia from where the passenger ferries depart for Russell. Possibly New Zealand's most historic village, Russell has seen much change and had a chequered history. Beautifully situated in a sheltered harbour in the Bay of Islands, Russell has drawn early Maori, explorers, settlers, whalers, sailors and missionaries, not to mention their attendant and often colourful followers! Once described as the "Hell Hole of the Pacific", Russell has seen many conflicts. It is now known for its well preserved colonial architecture, quaint surroundings and beautiful setting.
The historic small town of Mangonui is an easy 40-minute drive north. The Polynesian navigator Kupe visited the area in about 900 AD, and Mangonui was known as a safe harbour for whaling vessels by the late 1700s. In 1831 the first European Settlers arrived, and by the mid 1800s Mangonui was a centre for whalers and traders with flourishing saw mill and flax industries. Mangonui has a wealth of historic buildings and a well marked Heritage Trail. The privately owned and fascinating Butler Point Whaling Museum is just a 15-minute drive around the coast. The house dates back to the 1840s and houses an amazing collection of original whaling artefacts, and is set in beautiful grounds on the edge of the harbor – a hidden gem.
SPECTACULAR COASTAL SCENERY
Takou River is surrounded be a pristine and beautiful coastline. Volcanic rock formations combine with stunning sandy beaches and offer something for everyone, from the committed surfer, to the more relaxed holiday maker. Surfing, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, fishing and diving, or simply basking in the beauty of the marine environment – there's something for everyone.
Whangaroa Harbour and Matauri Bay, with its stunning views to the Cavalli Islands, are both just 25 minutes north. Whangaroa, often known as the 'Marlin Capital' of New Zealand has great opportunities for Big Game Fishing as well as Sea Fishing for Snapper, Kahawai, John Dory, Trevally and more. Nearby, Sea Kayaking trips provide a unique and non-intrusive way of experiencing the coastline and marine life. The Cavalli Islands are beautiful, unspoilt and largely uninhabited. The seabed around the islands forms the final resting place for the Green Peace flagship the Rainbow Warrior. Diving the wreck, which sits in 25 metres of water, covered in jewel anemones and a myriad of fish, is one of the highlights for any diver visiting New Zealand.
BAY OF ISLANDS
Paihia is the tourist centre of the Bay of Islands and the starting point for a great range of sailing and sea adventures. Swim with Dolphins, take a cruise around the Bay of Islands, or a fast boat out to the Hole in the Rock. For more sedate and peaceful sailing adventures, a day cruise on the Tall Ship R. Tucker Thompson is a unique way to explore the islands. Bare boat or skippered sailing charters are also readily available.
With over half a dozen courses to choose from all within a 30 minutes drive, you are never far from a round of golf. Whether looking to treat and test yourselves at the world class Kauri Cliffs Golf Course, or play a more relaxed game at the friendly clubs at Kerikeri, Waitangi, Kaikohe, Okaihau, Whangaroa, Rawene, there is something for everyone.
Northland is the historical birthplace of viticulture and wine making in New Zealand. The Rev. Samuel Marsden planted the first vines at Kerikeri in 1819, and later James Busby planted vines at Waitangi making wines there before moving to Australia to govern Sydney and establish the Hunter Valley. The Kerikeri area now boasts over a dozen boutique wineries, ranging from the well-established vineyards and wineries at Marsden Estate and Ake Ake, to more recent additions. All offer tastings, and many offer delicious lunches in beautiful vineyard settings. Maps and brochures for wine trails are available.
In the final stages of completion, the 'Twin Coast Cycle Trail' offers riders a great way to experience a diverse range of northland's beautiful scenery. Once complete, hopefully in 2015, the trail will stretch for 84 km from the inland reaches of the Hokianga Harbour at Horeke in the west to Opua on the east coast, taking in a section of the historic restored steam railway from Kawakawa to Opua. Sections of the trail are fully open including the Okaihau to Kaikohe leg (14 km one way), and the Opua to Taumarere stretch (7 km one way). Short sections either side of these main legs are also open.
WALKING & TRAMPING
With our beautiful climate and diverse scenery both inland and coastal, there are walks to suit all tastes and fitness levels, from day hikes, to longer overnight tramps, guided walks or short wanders. We can help you with details of all the walks, which can also be found on line. Our favourite short and day walks include:
The Rainbow Falls & Kerikeri River Track – 4km each way
Waitangi to Haruru Falls Track – 5 km each way
Puketi Forest Nature Trail and Board Walk
Taronui Coastal Loop – 7km loop
The Paihia, Opua, Russell Coastal Walkway – 14 km
Mahinepua Peninsula track – 3 km each way
Lanes Cove Track & Dukes Nose climb (with chains)
Marsden Cross Track 1 km each way
St Pauls Rock – 750 m with scramble
Urupukapuka Island Walks
Motukawanui Island Track – 3.5 km each way
Aroha Island walk
A trip to New Zealand wouldn't be complete without the opportunity to see and hear Kiwi in their natural habitat. Magic Cottages at Takou River are surrounded by Kiwi Zones, so you may be lucky enough to hear Kiwi calling at night. To experience Kiwi first hand, a visit to Aroha Island Eco Centre is a must. Located just 25 minutes drive from Magic Cottages, Aroha Island is a 12 hectare sanctuary in the Kerikeri inlet and consists of a protected 5-hectare island and 7 hectares of Mangroves connected to the mainland by a short causeway. Aroha Island has been restored by volunteers, and is free to visit for day trips where visitors can swim, walk and explore the island, it's native plants and wildlife, and look around the visitor centre. At night, Aroha Island offers guided Kiwi Walks, providing a unique opportunity to hear and even see Kiwi in their natural habitat. Tours need to be booked in advance.
For those looking for a little more adventure, there is plenty to choose from - exhilarating jet boat rides to the Hole in the Rock, jet skis tours around the Islands, kite and wind surfing, para-sailing, sky diving and Action World will keep the most hardened adventure seekers satisfied!