Opononi, Northland, New Zealand by Camper

Posted on 22 November 2012

Opononi, a small settlement on the edge of the Hokianga Harbour, is known for two things- sand dunes and a very special dolphin. To get there, take State Highway 12 off State Highway 1 at the Brynderwyns heading north from Auckland.

Dunes across from Opononi
by markescapes Flickr Creative Commons

The sand dunes across the harbour dominate the view when you are on the water's edge at Opononi- they are on the North Head of the harbour. Many people take a water taxi or charter boat across the harbour to explore these mountains of sand, and slide down them a few times. Beware the walk back up!

Opo Statue in Opononi
by Alan Levine Flickr Creative Commons

Opo is a town legend in Opononi. A friendly dolphin, he spent the summer of 1955-56, enchanting locals and those who came to visit. An orphan, she began following fishing boats in early 1955. She was not shy like most wild animals and would play with balls and allow children to swim alongside her and touch her. Many came to see Opo, and she was officially protected by law on the 8th of March 1956- sadly, she was found dead the next day. It is suspected that she was inadvertently killed by fishermen using gelignite. Opo was buried with full Maori honours next to the town hall.

Opononi Beach Holiday Park is located on State Highway 12 and is a popular place to stay. The towns of Whirinaki and Omapere are nearby with guest house and lodge accomodations.

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