Hokianga Safari 2017

Story and photos by Ashley Lucas

It had been three years since the last Hokianga Safari (the 2015 event was cancelled due to poor response) so when it was announced again for 2017 it was a must-do trip as far as I was concerned.

Held at Waimamaku on State highway 12, it is about 70 kms from Dargaville or 11kms south of Omapere and the entrance to the Hokianga Harbour.  Base for the weekend would be the Waiotemarama Complex (formerly a country school) just north of the Waimamaku township where tents, or those who need the luxuries from home, caravans, could be set up.  Toilets and showers were available in the old school buildings.

Arriving Friday evening there was enough time to get the tent set up before heading back into Waimamaku for dinner at what is basically the local “pub” and takeaways.   The Waimamaku Bar & Grill is in what is understood to be the former butcher’s shop when the township was once a thriving community but has been converted out the back as a ‘local’ bar. 

Saturday dawned with a little mist in the valleys but we were looking forward to a fine day and hoping the tracks weren’t too bad after the storm that came through the previous week.  Ron and Chrissy McCloy gave us a briefing on what to expect and the 65-70 odd attendees split into two groups.  The club/shinys hopeful of no damage and the tough guys with mostly their “trailer Queens”, where anything goes and damage a possibility. 

Joining the main ‘club’ group, we headed out the gate across the highway and 300 metres down the side road before heading off-road onto farm tracks.  We headed north-east up into the hills and at times could look back west and see the ocean through the valley where the Waimamaku River runs through to the sea. 

We crossed farmland and also small areas of bush with the tracks interesting from being wet in places from the recent storms but we were treated some great views. Those near the tail end could see in the distance where the front vehicles were going and those in front could look back on where they had come from.

After a stop to let stragglers catch up we continued on and were soon on the McCloy property with its steep zig zag downhill.  This slowed things up a bit as it was very slippery and wet and had vehicles sliding in places.  It was well marshalled by the Kauri Coast team and while some looked to be at precarious angles everyone made it down safely and across the creek at the bottom.

We circled around the hills above the Waimamaku township which seemed to be covered with rocks lying in wait for the unsuspecting driver to hit one and puncture a tyre.  Then it was down to the lunch stop on the banks of the Waimamaku River which we had just crossed. 

There was then a climb up one ridge before crossing the state highway south of Waimamaku and a long climb up the hills towards the west and the coast. 

Dinner was back at the local bar & grill then it was back to camp, only to find out we had missed the presentations, but in our defence it was more an impromptu event rather than planned.

Sunday the tough guys would join us and we would pick up from where we left off on Saturday at the mouth of the Waimamaku River, albeit on the other side where once over the rocks we drove north on the beach.  It was a more relaxed sort of day taking time out to take in the fresh sea air and enjoy the sunshine.

Once off the beach it was up on to the hills above the coastline with more spectacular views on the coast north and south.  The tracks would lead up the southern point of the Hokianga Harbour where the final task was for vehicles to be lined up for photos with the harbour entrance and northern sand dunes as the back drop.

As a final fundraiser there was the option to stop at a local milking shed where the underside and wheels could be high pressure hosed down in return for a gold coin donation.   

I’m not sure why people don’t seem to want to travel to the Far North for these events, but believe me they are worth the effort.  It was another weekend of some very good four wheeling with lots of interesting sections to keep everyone on their toes, some great scenery, and great company. 

I look forward to the next one.

To read every story in the June 2017 issue of NZ4WD go to (May 19) or purchase your own hard copy at the Adrenalin store.

Publishing Information
Magazine Issue:
Page Number:
Related Articles
Little Whale’s Adventure
Murray Taylor wanders down the South Island West Coast with his dad, ‘The Whale’, and the ‘Little Whale’...
South Island Trip Pt 1
Last month regular NZ4WD contributor Gary Cooper talked about how to plan a 4WD adventure...
99 Rivers revisited
By early March our summer has usually settled into its stride with long fine yet mild days...