Day 8: ┼îmapere out and back - Foray into New Zealand's far north - CycleBlaze

December 12, 2022

Day 8: ┼îmapere out and back

Tiki touring and coffee

If you've been coming along for the ride so far, you will have noticed my interest in the history of the places we're riding through.

Much of the  history my generation was taught in primary school focused on the 19th century interactions between Maori and early arrivals from Australia and  the northern hemisphere - whalers, missionaries and settlers in Waitangi and Kororareka on the east coast.

This morning's ride from the hotel took us to two points of interest; Kupe's Lookout and Opononi.

Here in Ōmapere, they tell the story of Kupe the Great Navigator who in around 800AD sailed from French Polynesia to find a new land. After circumnavigating the North Island, the story goes, he crossed the treacherous bar and entered the Hokianga Harbour to be the first human to stand on New Zealand soil.

Kupe's lookout
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Looking towards north head from lookout.
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Another story from the Hokianga harbour is a piece of Kiwi folklore. For a few short months over the summer of 1955-56, a friendly dolphin took up residence in the harbour at Opononi, just down the road from here. 

Opo loved to play with children in the water and soon became a national icon. The day after the government passed a measure to ensure her protection, she was found dead. Her legacy includes story books, an earworm of a popular song and more than one statue.

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Opo's story has lived on for many generations and probably ensures a steady stream of Kiwi boomers to this statue opposite the wharf at Opononi.

After our shakedown ride and morning coffee, the rest of today was spent touristing (surfing the sand dunes and immersing ourselves in a Māori cultural experience, Kupe's Footsteps). Tomorrow, our final day, is a big one. 

Heading for the sea. Go Bruce!
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Our excellent guide at 'Kupe's Footsteps'
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Today's ride: 28 km (17 miles)
Total: 357 km (222 miles)

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