Te Ao Māori on the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail

Published 2022-09-14

Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail is a journey into Te Ao Māori – ngā tāngata, whakapapa, whenua and mātauranga that give this place its unique mauri and identity. Kei te haere koe i runga i to pahikara – get on your bicycle – to deepen your knowledge, make new connections, and improve your reo Māori while enjoying a Great Ride full of local hospitality, lovely scenery and significant historic sites.


Charming historic and locally owned accommodation at Horeke

Riverside Villa, in Horeke, is a fantastic new addition to Northland's Great Ride. This beautifully restored kauri villa overlooks peaceful Hokianga Harbour, and makes a beautiful base for exploring the western end of the Great Ride. Locally owned and operated through the Utakura 7 Incorporation, their vision is to 'uplift the mana of each and every guest through the provision of exceptional customer service.' 

Your hosts' ties to the whenua (land) and moana (sea) whakapapa all the way back to Kupe, Nukutāwhiti and Ruanui. Stay and hear the stories that make this corner of Aotearoa so special. 

Find out more here.

This sensationally restored kauri villa dates back to 1871 (Riverside Villa).

Eat in style in the Riverside Villa's beautiful dining room (Riverside Villa).

Local artists bring life and colour to the trail and community

Visitors to the Horeke/Hokianga Harbour end of the Great Ride are treated to some fantastic on-trail murals, created by local artists from Ngā Mahi Toi o Horekea collective started up last year.

Bringing colour and meaning to the trail, the sixteen new murals were painted by 35 artists of all ages and abilities who came together to explore their artistic talent while sharing the stories of their connection to this place. Waka, manu, maunga and te moana are just some of the motifs that surface in the works, which speak to the wellspring of creativity that brought this community project to life.

Find out more in this heartwarming article, and the the official trail website.

Left – Te Rangi Butler stands proudly next to ‘Manu i te taiao’ by pupils Spirit Arani Culham, Tyreece Pomare, Te Rangi Butler, Chevy Waiomio & Ana’maria Mizsey; Right – Josiah Coe, Elenalee Mizsey and Emmanuel Le Noel in front of ‘Mana Moana, Mana Whenua, Mana Tangata’, created with fellow students Arama Koroi, Te Ariki Katene & Tairawhiti Sylva.

Revisit history at Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Essential viewing for anyone visiting the Far North, Waitangi is way more than just the place where Māori and Pākehā signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi – the country’s founding document. See, feel, hear and understand biculturalism through excellent museum displays, historic architecture, beautifully carved waka (canoes), and spectacular visual arts and performance. A cafe, gift shop and expansive gardens complete the picture. The Treaty Grounds are close to Opua at the Bay of Islands' end of the cycle trail.

Te Whare Rūnanga at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (David Kirkland).

Immerse yourself at Ngawha Springs

Close to Kaikohe in an peaceful outdoor setting, these newly renovated hot mineral baths will soothe your bike-weary body. A warm welcome awaits, with the Māori-owned complex yet another way to connect with tāngata whenua and hear of Ngawha’s place in history. For the best therapeutic benefits, time your visit outside of summer or on cooler evenings.

The therapeutic waters of Ngawha Springs.

Visit the Māngungu Mission

Close to Horeke, Māngungu is a Wesleyan mission established in 1828. It’s worth going for the view alone, its hillside grounds affording a magnificent view over the inner Hokianga Harbour. When the mission house is open (Sat, Sun & Mon; Dec–April, or by arrangement), take a trip through time taking in early Māori–Pākehā interactions, mission life and colonial architecture. Māngungu was the venue for the second, and largest, signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on February 12, 1840, which was witnessed by a crowd of around 3000 people.

Māngungu Mission marks the western end of the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail.

Admire the views from Kaikohe's Monument Hill

Take a stroll up Monument Hill to visit the memorial to Hōne Heke Ngāpua, and for spectacular views across rural Northland. Locally born Hōne Heke earned a reputation as peacemaker in disputes between Māori and the Crown. In 1898, he hastily returned to his electorate, catching a train from Wellington to Auckland and then riding at a gallop on horseback from Auckland to Waima in the South Hokianga. He arrived just in time to defuse a face-off between Māori led by Hōne Riiwi Tōia and Crown forces. From the memorial you can also see Te Aprehama Anglican Church where Hōne Heke is buried.

Views of rural Northland and Kaikohe’s Te Aprehama Anglican Church from Monument Hill (Ruth Lawton Photography).

Practice your reo all the way along the trail

Learn about Te Tai Tokerau's fascinating Māori pūrākau (legends), whenua and tāngata, and bone up on your reo at the same time, with the trail's evocative, bi-lingual information panels. You'll find them installed at regular intervals along the whole 87km trail between Ipipiri (Bay of Islands) and Hokianga Harbour.

Explore Northland and learn te reo at the same time with the trail's evocative bi-lingual information panels (Ruth Lawton Photography).

Locals' stories from the trail

The Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail offers an opportunity to cycle through communities rich with culture and shared histories, and pass areas of significant sites, events and locations encountered on the ride.  

The trail's trust has captured some of these important stories reflecting the tangata and places nearby to the cycle trail by engaging the talented Jason Taylor of Tai Huri Films. Watch these fascinating and heartwarming videos on the official trail website.  

Te Tai Tokerau Northland's Great Ride is full of rich stories and fascinating people.

Useful links:
Twin Coast Cycle Trail on the New Zealand Cycle Trail website. 
Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail – official trail website.
Northland New Zealand – official tourism website.