Herekino Forest is considered one of the most important for conservation in the country. It is home to many rare and threatened species, including the North Island brown kiwi, long tailed bat and kauri snail.
In April 2003, Prime Minister Helen Clark and Conservation Minister Chris Carter opened the new link in a walking track that may one day stretch the length of New Zealand. The trail connects places such as Herekino and Te Arai, which are rich in the history and the character of the people who have lived there for generations.
The Far North area of Kaitaia/Mangonui/Karikari is an area renowned for its role in New Zealand history for both Maori and Pakeha. It also includes some important habitats, which are home to rare and threatened plant and animal life.
This diverse area features broad beaches of white sand, rocky headlands and intimate sheltered bays rimmed with pohutukawa forest. The conservation values of this region, its lakes and surrounding ocean are high.
Archaeological evidence indicates the Far North was first settled by Polynesian ancestors of the Maori about 900 years ago. The region around Mangonui was well populated before the arrival of Europeans with archaeological sites revealing the extent of this settlement. A number of pa sites remain visible, well preserved and accessible to the public. Maori pa were fortified sites that provided protection in times of warfare, usually built on hills and headlands with good natural defences. These natural features were extended by man-made ditches, banks and palisades.
The region was important early during European contact. Both Cook and de Surville visited within days of each other in 1769, and in the early 1800s Mangonui was an important whaling and trading port.
The Dalmatian community around Ahipara were involved in the extraction of kauri gum. The gum was used for lacquers, paint and linoleum, and was also reputedly the best varnish in the world for musical instruments.