Visitors to Northland and locals can do a renewed self-drive tour looking at some of the region's most interesting and historic stories.
Northland Inc has relaunched self-drive journey map "Wandering with Ancestors". The journey now brings together the stories of the SS Ventnor, Polynesian navigator Kupe, local Māori culture, arts, heritage, and the natural beauty of the stunning Hokianga.
The update and re-release of Wandering with Ancestors coincides with the opening of Northland's newest tourism attraction, Manea Footprints of Kupe, an interactive cultural, heritage, tourism, and education centre in Opononi, Hokianga. The $9.6 million project has been two decades in the making and opened on December 9.
"This is a very special opening for the local community, and a significant new tourism product not only for Northland, but for New Zealand," Manea Footprints of Kupe general manager Kathrine Clarke said.
"It offers a powerful platform to share our cultural heritage, people and place stories with domestic visitors, as well as international guests once borders open. The new opening is set to strengthen Northland's tourism offering and will be pivotal to increasing length of stay and spend in Northland, providing a much-needed boost in the region's visitor economy, as well as creating jobs for the area.''
Visitors to the centre will experience a 75-minute multisensory journey of guided storytelling – through art, taonga (cultural treasures), film, performance, digital interaction, and the splendour of Hokianga's natural surroundings.
Wandering with Ancestors joins six other Northland Journeys and two Auckland Journeys that offer a deeper, more informative layer to the highlights of 50-150km stretches of the Twin Coast Discovery Highway touring route in Northland and Auckland.
The journeys were developed as part of the Twin Coast Discovery Revitalisation Project that began in 2016, to encourage visitors to take time, slow down, see more and do more.
Northland Journeys offer visitors the opportunity to explore the region, with off-the-beaten-track inspiration. Points of interest on the maps include fascinating stories of each place you visit, intertwined with favourite places and tips as told by locals of each area.
Lenny Naera, from Awesome Adventures Hokianga, said Wandering with Ancestors is a wonderful journey to take in a beautiful part of the Far North, and in particular the Hokianga, which is the birthplace of Aotearoa.
''This kaupapa will encourage visitors to come and see the first footprints of Kupe, travel on our waters, visit our special places and feel the wairua of our home."
GM Destination for Northland Inc, Tania Burt, said while the Twin Coast Discovery Highway is long established, the Northland Journeys offer visitors a new way to engage with the local areas and communities around the region.
Wandering with Ancestors is a great reason to plan a trip away from the well-trodden paths and venture somewhere different in Northland, she said.
Northland Journeys can be found at www.northlandjourneys.co.nz