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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


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Doubtless Bay is situated on the east coast of North Auckland, about 14 miles as the crow flies north-east of Kaitaia. It extends from Knuckle Point in the north to Berghan Point in The South. There are rocky headlands, backed by many extensive beaches, such as Tokerau, Taipa, Cable, and Cooper, and the harbour of Mangonui. Knuckle Point is in Rangiawhia Peninsula, a tombolo or land-tied island composed of spilites and keratophyres and rising to a height of about 600 ft above sea level. To the south it is joined to the mainland by a belt of sand dunes rising to a height of about 120 ft. This belt is fronted to the east by Tokerau Beach, which extends in the form of a concave arc from Whatuwhiwhi in the north to the Awapoko River in the south, and is about 8 miles long. Among the sand dunes, wherein moa bones can be found, are extensive swamps with several shallow lakes, of which Ohia and Rotokawau are the largest. To the west in succession are several beaches well known to campers and holidaymakers —Aurere, Taipa, Cable, and Cooper. Cable Bay was once the site of a cable station, and at Cooper Beach, towards its northern end, is a grooved rock used by the old Maori inhabitants for putting an edge on stone adzes. There is also a seam of lignite once worked for local use. Small flattened fossil coconuts, bearing witness to a former warmer climate, are sometimes washed on to the beaches from outcrops submerged off shore. Mangonui is a quiet coastal port which once exported kauri timber and gum and was a rendezvous for whalers.

Doubtless Bay was named by Captain James Cook in 1769 and, later, was visited by de Surville in his ship the St. Jean Baptiste. In retaliation for the theft of a longboat which had gone adrift after his ship had dragged her anchor in a storm and narrowly escaped destruction, he carried off a Maori chief who had behaved most hospitably towards him. He then fired the native village.

Tokerau Beach, formerly approached by a ramp from a road turning off from near Lake Ohia, was once the only access by road to the settlement of Merita and the school at Whatuwhiwhi, but today a metalled road traverses the centre of the tombolo and provides all-weather servicing of the navigational light at Cape Karikari.

In 1847 the Rev. William Puckey, a missionary at Kaitaia, wrote in his journal of “having visited the Brodies at Knuckle Point whither they had gone to prospect a copper deposit”. Today high in the cliff face can be seen a timbered drive, and from the sea the rock wall stands out by its vivid-green copper staining. Brodie's Creek, a stream draining into Doubtless Bay, records the family's early association with the district.

The tombolo was once the scene of extensive kauri forests, but today the only vegetation is short scrub, some gorse, and wiwi. Kauri gum was once extensively won from the district and even today some areas remain as desolate and abandoned gumfields.

There are many excellent camping spots and good fishing in the district. Moturoa Island to the west of Cape Karikari, is one of the homes of the tuatara lizard. Agricultural limestone is burned and crushed from extensive dunes of shell at the northern end of Tokerau Beach, and recently the Department of Lands and Survey has begun a programme of development involving the discing and grassing of a block which will one day result in many acres of farm land. R.F.H


McLintock, Alexander Hare