The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 7 (December 1, 1932)
Through the Northland
Through the Northland.
Railway travel is the easiest and most comfortable and economical way of entering into one's chosen holiday-land, whether far or near. Here may be indicated the principal pleasure routes which either give direct access to scenes strange or beautiful, or both, or from which the traveller can branch off by road to places of interest.
First comes the North Auckland railway, the great commercial artery of that sub-province which stretches northward for considerably more than two hundred miles from Auckland isthmus. The railway taps the Kaipara, Whangarei, Bay of Islands, and Hokianga districts, and serves a huge area of productive country, and a country full of interest for the pleasurer. You may travel in comfort through the heart of the North, which was practically cut off from Auckland City for several months in the year in its early days because of the poor roads. The coming of the rail changed all that. The route is through a land which once was mostly clothed with forest, and which has been transformed by the bushman's toil and the farmer's enterprise. Even the desolate kauri gumfields, where the digger plied spear and spade, the hills and flats that a New Zealand novelist once described as “the land of the lost,” have been transformed into farms and orchards.
The rail gives direct access to the Bay of Islands, with its famous fishing grounds, its inlets of beauty, its valleys of peace and fruitfulness, its sanctuaries of history and romance. Land of colour and legend and antique charm; our birthplace as a British colony in the great South Sea. His Excellency Lord Bledisloe's great gift to New Zealand people of the old Busby home and esate at Waitangi has brought that storied spot into the public eye, and the scene of the Treaty-signing in 1840 is likely to be visited this summer by a great many who have hitherto not troubled to search out any of the places where our nation's story began. Waitangi is quite easily reached—half-an-hour's run in a motor-launch from the rail-head at Opua wharf. It is exactly opposite old Kororareka, the Russell of to-day, where, for one thing, there is the oldest church in New Zealand, very little short of a century in years.
Still older is placid Kerikeri, as quiet as a forest pool, at the head of its saltwater river, fourteen miles from Russell. More than a century of pakeha civilisation is enshrined in this pretty backwater of the North, where the burden of life seems to rest lightly on the little village.
Then, inland, there is Kaikohe, the heart of the good lands of this volcanic country; and from there it is but a step to Hokianga, region of delicious climate, the land of valleys of the sun, where pakeha and Maori farm side by side. Life in the open should be a perpetual pleasure in such a lovely land as this. There are not many things you cannot raise there, and you can do without many clothes. One hears of people going to Norfolk Island to settle. They cannot ever have seen Hokianga.