Posted in Aotearoa New Zealand

Tinopai: Small and Peaceful Coastal Settlement on the Kaipara Harbour

We came to Tinopai for a couple of days to escape the city and it was the perfect rural, seaside retreat. It’s a small settlement with just a few permanent residents; at this time of the year most of the holiday makers have left.

I spent one Xmas holidays here many years ago with my parents but the details are kind of sketchy. I’m not exactly sure where we stayed and what we did most of the time but I do recall living off the sea. Dad would catch snapper and I would dig in the sand for toheroas with Mum. It was a happy carefree time and I have wonderful memories of a long hot summer here.

Location: Tinopai, Northland, NZ

Getting to Tinopai involves a detour from the main route north. From Auckland continue north along State Highway 1 to Brynderwyn and turn left. This will take you through beautiful countryside where stunning rural scenes are way up close. The roads are winding and narrow with lots of one way bridges and there is hardly any traffic. When you do happen to meet an oncoming car on the road it is likely the driver will wave to you and nod.

The trip is only 150km from Auckland but will take a little longer than anticipated because you will want to stop often!

Where to Stay

Camp Tinopai– Looks nice, right on the water and has all the required facilities.

Bookabach– We hired a 3brm house which is usually a family holiday home. This type of home is also known as a “bach”. No wifi but we did have tv and a fireplace with plenty of fire wood available.

We had a nice elevated sea view and it felt like home… although we did find we were sharing the house with a small mouse. He made his appearance on several occasions and each time it was… picture this, me hopping on the couch and Basker swinging the garden spade which was frantically collected from the garage! Poor mouse!

He didn’t make it.

Where to Eat

There is great coffee at the Matakohe Gumdiggers Cafe which is located across the road from the Kauri Museum.

The Happy Puku serves delicious burgers and chips from a food cart located in the car park along the Tinopai waterfront. They are open usually from 5.00pm Thursday to Sunday but check their Facebook for updates.

I believe the seafood chowder is a popular fave.

Things To Do


Most people who come here would have their own boat because we didn’t find anywhere to rent a charter. However, fishing from the wharf is good so bring a rod and line.

Luckily, we were chatting to local people who pointed us to Mario who catches flounder. We contacted him and picked up 3 fat flounder just freshly caught that morning and we cooked them for lunch… can’t get better than that!!


When the tide is out you can walk along the waterfront, over the rocks and along to the white sandy beach. During our walks we saw plenty of seagulls and shags. We also saw a large group of Oyster Catchers resting together on the shore who started to hop, click and chirp when we approached too close… so we had to slowly back away.


Ruawai Stopbank Trail– The Trail runs south along the stopbank from Ruawai Wharf for 4km to the end of Simpson Road. The ride offers views of the Kaipara Harbour and access to a very special wide-open space.

Cyclists may choose to loop around Wilson’s Landing Road or continue along Simpsons Road for a longer ride, either to Tinopai or the café at Matakohe Museum.


Far too cold for us at this time of year but we are aware that this beach is safe.

Kauri Museum, Matakohe

Kauri Museum– Of course, Kauri forests once covered much of the land north of the Coromandel. Land clearance and logging of the ancient forest has resulted in only a small fraction of the ancient kauri remaining in the twenty first century. 

Whilst concerns for the cutting down of the kauri forests began in the nineteenth century it was not until 1985 that the New Zealand Government put an end to logging of live kauri trees.

The museum has an extensive collection of historic photos taken during the days of the kauri industry. Other collections include kauri gum, kauri furniture, chainsaws and bottles.

Read a Book

I know, this is hardly the most spectacular activity but it is a lovely place to do this… sit on the deck in the sun or indoors by a toasty roaring fire, listen to the birds, gaze at the ocean, curl up with a book, lovely peace and quiet.

Ngā mihi nui, Janet


This is a blog that aims to share beautiful recipes, crochet ideas, travel inspo, mosaic art… and more

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