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Doubtless Bay owes its name to Captain Cook who sailed past these beautiful coves and beaches aboard his ship the Endeavour and perfunctorily noted 'Doubtless a bay'. The next European, a French explorer called Jean Francois de Surville arrived a mere week later but a disagreement with the local Maori led to his quick departure.
Doubtless Bay could be called the cradle of the Maori. It was here that Kupe's travels ended when he landed near Taipa Bay in 950AD. The legendary explorer called his new-found land Aotearoa and explored its coastline before returning to Hawaiki with tales of success. As the legend goes, his successor to the land in Aotearoa Moehuri, was led safely to shore by a 'Big Shark' which is when Mangonui was named.
For both the Maori and the Europeans this was a bountiful land to settle in. They found fertile land fed by a subtropical climate, a sea teeming with fish and shell-fish and a sky full of birds to feed on. Consider this area a must on your visit to Northland. While Doubtless Bay is ideal for fishing, boating and watersports, Mangonui the principal town is a historic charm. The whalers left in their wake a waterside village of 19th century kauri buildings which overlook an avenue of pohutukawa trees to the waterfront and harbour. Just take a stroll around town and take a look at some of the historic buildings such as the Mangonui Hotel, Mangonui School, Mangonui Courthouse and St. Andrews Church which all date back to the latter half of the 1800's.
Back on SH10 it's a short drive straight to the pohutakawa-lined Cooper's Beach. The white sands have proved their popularity and the beach is backed by a plethora of hotels and accommodation to vouch for it. If you find something small, black and about the size of a lime, you might just be holding a bit of history. Ancient petrified coconuts (Cocos zeylancia) have been found here which have been preserved since the early Miocene Age. Next stop along the road is Cable Bay where you'll find the crushed shells lend the sand a pinkish hue and rock pools with a few seals on a lucky day. Cable Bay was so called when it was home to the longest cable in the world. For 10 years until 1912 a cable extended 3500 nautical miles to Queensland until another was laid which stretched from Sydney to Auckland. Taipa is home to seat of Maori legend as it is reputed to be the spot on which the legendary explorer Kupe first set foot on Aotearoa.
Get off SH10 and let the signs take you on the 3/4hr detour to the Karikari Peninsula which delightfully remains today much as nature intended it to be. You'll know Tokerau Beach when you come to it, at 17km long it is a little difficult to miss. If you can, go at low-tide and that's not just for the surf. You can dig in the sand for some tuatua a shellfish much beloved by the Maori for good reason. But don't stop there as the views get better. Just head down to Whatuwhiwhi and the twin bays of Matai Bay.