|Hokianga Harbour, just north of the Waipoua Forest.
Late last month I returned to a place that feels as much like visiting old friends as it does like staying in a 5-star, boutique lodge. The Waipoua Lodge sits on the edge of arguably New Zealand’s finest subtropical tract of bush, the Waipoua Forest. A part of what’s become known as the Kauri Coast, this is a stretch of coastline that also includes the famous 90 Mile Beach, the Hokianga Harbour and the underrated beauty of the Trounson Kauri Park.
I was enroute to another 5-star property, Kauri Cliffs, on Northland’s other coast (the east). But having had such a great time with the Waipoua Lodge owners Ian and Fran back in 2012 I thought I’d drop in for a night on the way.
For five years Ian and Fran have owned and managed the Waipoua Lodge – a delightful old homestead with four adjoining suites built in historic farm buildings and set amongst gardens. In a remote, sparsely populated part of the country, former big-city dwellers Ian and Fran have embraced the lifestyle as well as the history of the Kauri Coast. This is place with a detailed early European frontier past just as it’s still a bastion of traditional Maori culture.
A change of circumstances means that Ian and Fran are looking to sell, but are determined the next owners are just as passionate about the community that has become their home. Until such time as the right buyer is found, you can still contact them about staying. Their cooking is outstanding, their local knowledge evidence of their involvement in the community and the overall experience about as homely as 5-star accommodation gets.
As for the Waipoua Forest itself, the jewel in the crown is Tane Mahuta – a 2000 year kauri acknowledged as the largest of its type in the world. The fact Tane Mahuta is so well known means a lot of visitors overlook the even older (and even girthier!) Te Matua Ngahere as well as some of the other, quite stunning, surrounding bush walks. The forests here are as lush and wonderfully-oversized as any I’ve seen in New Zealand. While it’s the kauris that provide the main drawcard, the gigantic ferns are almost as compelling.
The Waipoua Lodge might be on Northland’s west coast (the “Kauri Coast”) with Kauri Cliffs (ironically not on the Kauri Coast) and the affluent Bay Of Islands tourist towns of Russell, Kerikeri and Paihia all on the east coast, but the distance is only a couple of hours driving time. As a round trip, it makes perfect sense to drive north from Auckland and stay on the west coast at Waipoua Lodge, then cross over past the Hokianga Harbour, staying in the Bay Of Islands before heading south back to Auckland.
For more details about a holiday to the Waipoua Lodge or whether you could be the next custodians of this charming property, please visit waipoualodge.co.nz or kauricoast.co.nz. You can also ring Ian and Fran on +64 9 439 0342.
In the meantime, here are 20 of my favourite Waipoua Lodge / Kauri Coast photos from my stays here in 2012 and 2015: