Opua is a locality in the Bay of Islands, in the sub-tropical Northland Region of New Zealand. It is notable as the first port for overseas yachts arriving in the country after crossing the Pacific Ocean. In the original 1870s plans for the town, it was named Newport.
The population of Opua West and Opua East combined was 612 in the 2006 Census, an increase of 60 from 2001.
The local primary school, Opua School
, is a coeducational full primary (years 1-8) school with a decile rating of 7 and a roll of 95. The school was established in 1886. It has an open and easy-going policy of enrolling the children of overseas families mooring in the Bay for weeks or months at a time – making it a highly international school for a small community.
The Opua Branch
, a branch line railway
sometimes considered part of the North Auckland Line
, formerly served the town. The first railway link, from Opua to Kawakawa
, opened on 7 April 1884
. When the North Auckland Line was completed in 1925, a thrice weekly passenger express train called the Northland Express
operated directly to Opua from Auckland
. In November 1956, this was replaced by a railcar
service run by RM class 88 seaters
, but this service terminated at the other northern terminus, Okaihau
on the Okaihau Branch
. Opua passengers thus had to use mixed trains
that carried freight as well as passengers; these trains ceased on 18 June 1976
when the line became freight-only. As Opua's use as a commercial port declined, so did the freight traffic on the railway, and it was last used in 1985. The line was then leased to the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway
, who operated tourist services between Opua and Kawakawa until 2001, when the Land Transport Safety Authority withdrew the line's operating licence. Part of the line in Opua is now on private land, and negotiations to restore the train are proceeding. Services are anticipated to resume through to Opua in late 2009.