Helena Bay, Ōakura and Whangaruru
Take the 'long way round' to the Bay of Islands and you will enjoy a beautiful and isolated coastal paradise including Ōakura Beach, Helena Bay and Mimiwhangata Coastal Park. Pods of dolphins and orca are often seen off the coast and in the harbour, hear kiwi birds call at night, feel the sand between your toes, sit under the shade of an ancient tree.
Mimiwhangata Coastal Park, an extraordinary treasure
Mimiwhangata Coastal Park has an superb landscape and shoreline, fringed by a 2000 hectare marine park. The 850 hectare property is a working farm, with stock excluded from the sensitive sand dunes, wetlands and bush areas. The Park includes a number of small craggy islands, rock cliffs, pōhutukawa and yellow flowering kowhai trees. The Park is a permanent home to a number of threatened bird species, including one of the worlds rarest water fowl, the Brown Teal or Pāteke. Amateur fishing and gathering is allowed – check the fishing and shellfish gathering restrictions in the marine park.
The last few kilometres of road access are narrow and winding and is not suitable for caravans or larger camper vans. Vehicles with trailers should be okay but please drive extremely carefully.
Waikahoa Bay Campsite has basic water and toilet facilities but you have to walk, and carry all your gear the last few hundred metres. DOC also provides other accommodation options including a Mimiwhangata lodge, cottage and beach house.
Please leave your dogs at home as they are a threat to the bird population.
Peninsula Loop Walk
This two hour return walk around the headland provides the best of everything; shady beaches, rocky shores, archaeological sites, farmland, native vegetation and bird life. Signs guide you from the main car park.
This track starts on the right hand side of the road as you arrive at Mimiwhangata Park. The track leads quite steeply up the side of the valley and once you are near the top of the ridge, there are gorgeous views of the peninsula and out towards the Poor Knights Islands. You can either make your way back the same way or continue and go down to the coast and back to the car park via the beach.
Te Mimiha and Ngawai Bay (Teal Bay) are part of the larger Helena Bay. There is ample parking, the water is usually calm and flat (although occasionally the surf does get pretty spectacular) and there are plenty of grassed areas to picnic on. Neither of these beaches have stores or camping grounds.
Before you arrive at Helena Bay, make sure you stop at The Gallery and Cafe Helena Bay Hill, a superb art gallery and cafe set among a glorious subtropical garden.
Ōakura Bay is a beautiful, east facing beach, almost a kilometre long and adjacent to the deep water entrance to the Whangaruru Harbour. The beach is sheltered from ocean swells by several outlying islands and provides great swimming for all ages. The beach has generous parking and access from the road. The general store provides supplies including fuel and groceries and order your fish and chips from Skips Fish n Chips.
For boaties, the boat launching ramp provides the gateway to paradise. Enjoy water skiing in the harbour, explore beautiful secluded bays. Local fishing and diving charters available.
Just over the hill from the beach, you can find accommodation at the Whangaruru Beach Front Camp.
Go fishing or diving with a local who knows all the best spots, Ōakura Fish, Dive, Cruise.
Whangaruru is a remote coastal district and harbour with several small communities on its shores. Forests are dense and calls of the little brown kiwi can be heard at night. It is a great place to explore by kayak or boat and is a sheltered anchorage for passing yachts and pods of dolphins and orca may be seen off the coast and in the harbour.
Whangaruru North Road takes you onto the Whangaruru peninsula and the Pūriri Bay Campsite which provides basic camping facilities in paradise. The harbour and isthmus are the historic home of Ngātiwai and the area is dotted with pā sites.
The charming Parutahi Beach lies just inside the entrance of the Whangaruru Harbour and offers sheltered swimming.
On the northern shores of the Whangaruru Harbour, there are two beaches of very different character. A sheltered bay on the harbour side, with an exposed Pacific Ocean surf beach only 400 metres away across a flat isthmus. A campground bridges this gap between the two beaches.