The Wharekawa Harbour Sandspit Wildlife Refuge incorporates both the estuary and the beach. It is an important nesting site for the endangered New Zealand Dotterel and the Variable Oystercatcher. In spring and summer the New Zealand Dotterels lay camouflaged eggs in shallow nests on the shore. Do not enter the roped areas as eggs can easily be trampled on. Dogs are not allowed in the Wildlife Refuge.
Many other birds including white-faced herons, Caspian terns and pied stilts feed on the fertile estuarine mud flats.
The turnoff to Opoutere from S.H.25 is signposted 11km from Hikuai and 11km from Whangamata. The parking area is on the right, 4.3km from the turnoff. The path starts by crossing the wooden footbridge.
Toilet facilities are available at the carpark.
The path to Ocean Beach crosses the sandspit. It is wide, even and well-formed. At the beach, turn right and walk along the shore. After approximately 500 metres, a boarded walkway recrosses the sandspit. At low tide it is possible to follow the estuary most of the way back to the carpark. You will then need to surmount a small bank to rejoin a path through the pines. During the breeding season of the New Zealand Dotterels, it is not possible to continue past the end of the boardwalk.
North Island ▷ Coromandel ▷ Whangamata
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Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍