Local Area Activities
Cape Reinga trips:
The popular Cape Reinga lighthouse is about 75km’s north of Houhora Heads which makes the camp an ideal ‘there and back’ overnight stopping place. You can either take a tour bus or drive yourself. The tours are very good value and we can make a booking for you if you wish. The buses will pick you up from the camp and we will meet you at the 90 mile beach drop off (or visa versa depending on the tides.
If you are driving yourself there are a number of activities you can do on your trip to the Cape and back. Unfortunately if you have a rental vehicle you agreement will not allow you to drive on the 90 mile beach – some insurance policies also won’t cover your car while you are on the beach. If you’re into beautiful beaches then we’d recommend stopping at Rarawa beach (well sign posted about 17kms North) and Tapotupotu bay (almost at the Cape). A ‘must –do’ is to drive down to the Tepaki stream and the giant sandhills. Body boards can be used as sand toboggans for sledging down the dunes and are available for hire from the camp office.
Mt. Camel climb:
On the opposite side of the harbour is Mt. Camel (named by Cpt. Cook because it looks like a resting two humped camel). The ‘mount’ is the highest point between Kaitaia and Fiji and the views from the top are quite spectacular. On a good day you can see North Cape and Cape Reinga, The 90 mile beach and down to the range south of Kaitaia. The land is owned by one of the branches of the original Wagener family and they are generally happy for people to climb and picnic there. They do ask that there are no dogs and no fires on the peninsular as they have had some very negative experiences with both in the past. You can hire a kayak to get across the harbour … ask at the office for directions to finding the start of the track up to the top.
The Beaches on the other side of ‘the mount’ are truly magnificent and as good as you will see anywhere in the world. Unless you have a boat you’ll need to walk round to them which is not difficult. To get there by foot hire a kayak (if you don’t have your own small boat) and across to the batch you can see to the left of the mount. Once over there you will see a well defined road which you follow to the top of the ridge from there on you can find your way fairly easily. Please remember that this is all private property so again no dogs or fires and please leave gates as you found them ie leave open gates open and close any closed ones.
The Houhora Golf club, New Zealand’s northern most golf club, has an easy walking, attractive 9 hole course and is only 10kms North of the camp. Golf clubs are available for rent from the camp office.
The Club days:
Thursday & Sunday Tee off 10am, (Summer season)
Fridays, Tee off 4pm to 5pm.
18 holes – $20.00 – 9 holes – $15.00.
Far North Horse Trekking Based in the Houhora area, we offer guided horse treks through Aupouri Forestry and on to the 90 Mile Beach (Te Oneroa a Tohe). Their prices are affordable and times are negotiable. There are discounts for groups of 10 or more people.
- Phone: +64 9 409 8232
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The Houhora area has a reputation as one of the best fishing spots in the country and annually many keen fishermen head up here to try their luck. There are a number of local fishing competitions including the renown Houhora One base gamefish competition and the 90 mile beach completion which annually has upwards of 5000 competitors attend from all round the world.
There is good harbour fishing from the beach and jetty at the camp, surfcasting of the adjacent East Beach, and if you have even a small boat good fishing in the harbour or at the harbour entrance. Obviously the 90 mile beach (which is just 12 km away through the forest) is also popular for surfcasting and some good land based spots at some of the other local; beaches.
Early morning fishing for Kingfish either from the Wagener’s private jetty (they are happy for you to use it) or the Pukenui wharf has proven to be often very productive.
There are a couple of local charter operators and guides… ask at the office for more details
Scallops and crayfish are a popular quarry for divers but you really need a boat (or perhaps charter one) to get outside the harbour for the best results. Spear fishing is possible anywhere up the edges of the harbour, at the entrance or round the small Island opposite the camp in the middle of the channel.
A very popular activity is sand boarding down the giant Te Paki sand dunes. The dunes are about an hour North of Houhora. Sand boards are available for hire from the camp office.
We have bike available for hire from the camp office. Both biking down the beach and across to the 90 mile beach through the forest are popular.
One of the more popular activities by campers is gathering shellfish. Cockles, pipi and Kokotua are readily available at low-tide in front of the camp but the most popular are the tuatua. To get these you have to cross the estuary and walk to the beginning of the east beach (about 10 minute walk) which is where the tuatua beds are. Tuatua are also plentiful across on the 90 mile beach. If you have a boat there are oysters across the other side of the harbour and mussels at the entrance.
Keith’s tuatua fritters are legendary – here is his recipe….
Open sufficient tuatua to make up a cupful of raw shellfish. When you are opening them try to capture as much of the juice as possible by opening them into a sieve within a bowl. Take about a cup of minced or finely chopped tuatua and add to it a finely chopped onion, about 1 ½ cups of flour, about ¾ of a teaspoon of baking powder, an egg, and garlic, salt and pepper to taste. If you have some finely chopped parsley you can throw that in as well. Being careful to ensure that any sand stays in the bottom of the bowl pour in enough of the retained juice to make the tuatua mixture into a smooth batter. Heat up some oil in a pan and melt some butter in with the oil. When the oil just starts to smoke its ready to spoon in your first spoon of batter – turn when bubbles appear in the batter or the base gets golden brown.
If you want to eat the tuatua whole a great way of cooking them is to put the unopened shellfish in a pot. Tip in some boiling water and cover with the pot lid and then wrap the whole lot in a towel to keep the heat in … leave for about 1 ½ hours and then serve … they will be tender and succulent!
Depending on what sort of swimming you enjoy there are 3 basic options for swimming close to the camp – surf/open sea, harbour or estuary. Some consider the estuary best for smaller children although many swim from the beach in front of the camp. There is a strong current in the harbour so young children should avoid swimming in the harbour either side of the low tide a the channel deepens quickly and the tidal flow is quite fast. Please ensure that the children are well supervised at all times.
The East beach is popular with surfers in the right conditions. If the wind and break is from the wrong direction for the east beach its often good on the other side of the country on the 90 mile beach, at Henderson Bay or Rarawa beaches about 10km further North.