Take a road less travelled, through farmland and forest, to the estuary, beaches and laid back coastal beauty of remote Whananaki.
Turn off State Highway One just north of Hikurangi and follow the Whananaki North Road to the tiny, peaceful village of Whananaki North, with just a store, a school, a camping ground and a few homes, along with stunning estuary and coastline. Examples of the iconic ‘kiwi bach’ line both sides of the estuary.
Te Wairahi Stream flows from the northwest into the Whananaki inlet, a wide tidal estuary which separates Whananaki North from Whananaki South. The estuary mudflats evolve into a mangrove ecosystem which provide, shelter, food and nursery for many species of birds, fish and marine creatures.
Whananaki South is only accessible over the pedestrian footbridge (no vehicle traffic) or by vehicle via Hailes Road and there is no accommodation or camping options available. We recommend you base yourself at Whananaki North.
The Longest Footbridge
For something completely fun, check out the Whananaki Footbridge, the longest footbridge in the Southern Hemisphere. Park outside the community hall (grab an ice cream from the store) and follow the track that runs alongside the school. The bridge spans the estuary and is a popular fishing spot for locals and visitors alike. If you’re lucky, you’ll see stingray in the water beneath. Walk over to the ocean side of the sand spit for great surfing when the swell is right.
Motutara Recreation Reserve
Take a walk in Motutara Recreation Reserve and enjoy the 360 degree panorama when you reach the top. Pack a picnic and allow time for a swim or snorkel at Toki’s Beach.
From Whananaki North village, the track follows the coast south to Sandy Bay, Tutukākā. This is a three hour walk one way but you could do part of the track and then turn back. The views are extraordinary and you can detour to the Capitaine Bougainville Memorial on the north point of Oruaea Bay. This monument is a memorial to the freighter, Capitaine Bougainville, which caught fire and sank off the coast in 1975. It was carrying meat and dairy products to Sydney and had 29 crew and 8 passengers on board. As lifeboats capsized, 16 people died in the mountainous waves and cold. The survivors came ashore on the Whananaki South beach and the monument remembers those who were lost.
Barrons Beach and Kings Beach
Access these ocean side beaches by foot through Motutara Farm camping ground. Vehicle access is limited so please check with the Campsite office first.
A white sand beach with pōhutukawa for shade and grass to relax on. There is a Department Of Conservation Campsite located at this beach.
Accessible by foot only, take the short, 400 metre Watkin Powell Track at Otamure Bay. It winds up through manuka, flax and cabbage trees and then down to the secluded beach.
With its cluster of holiday homes, Moureeses is a popular destination for many locals. The beach is a long sweep of sand with rocky heads at either end and often provides great surfing.
Mangaiti aka Brooker’s Bay aka Woolshed Bay
Just north of Moureeses, this petite, shingle beach is accessible via a small reserve. The local farming family, the Barrons, call it Brooker's Bay after the early settlers there. Others called it Woolshed Bay because the Barron’s woolshed was situated in the valley.