Aramoana to Blackhead

Aramoana to Blackhead

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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approx 4 km return | 1 hour 30 minutes return

Aramoana Beach is a perfect semi-circle of golden sand. It has a wide useable area in front of the low dunes and is set in a bowl, surrounded by parched grassland. Waves roll in and are funnelled by the curved shape, breaking unevenly along the beach. The area is notorious for rips and holes. At the southern end is a reef that concentrates higher waves. Seek local advice before swimming. The beach walk leads all the way to Blackhead. Blackhead Beach lies in an attractive setting with steep hills enclosing the sandy beach. Quaint old-style baches and the rustic woolshed lend a yesteryear charm to the settlement. Seek local advice on the location of rips before swimming. Because of the abundance of marine life in the Te Angiangi Marine Reserve, snorkelling and diving are popular in the area.


The track is all on the sandy beach and can be completed in bare feet and at all tides except around high tide.


Aramoana is reached by travelling 8 km along unsealed Gibraltar Road, which is on the right just before Pourerere.

To reach Blackhead from Waipukurau, follow Porangahau Road then turn left into Wellington Road. Turn right into Tavistock Road, which turns into Farm Road. Keep left at the intersection with Middleton Road, 6 km from the town. Where Farm Road leads to Motere Road, keep left along Motere Road, which later turns into Long Range Road and leads all the way to Blackhead. Got it?


The track is all on the sandy beach and can be completed in bare feet and at all tides except around high tide.


The coastal fringe between Aramoana and Blackhead forms the Te Angiangi Marine Reserve. It was established in 1997, covers 146 hectares and protects all natural features and marine life in their natural state. The intertidal mudstone platform is approximately 100 metres wide and 2.5 km long. It is interrupted by small fine sandy beaches. The seaward facing slope is steep with large brown seaweeds writhing like eels in the surf. The subtidal fringe harbours Eklonia forests.

At low tide the broad hammer-marked platform of grey rock is exposed, which supports a huge diversity of marine life including kina and paua. The area is at the convergence of the warm ‘East Cape Current’ and the cooler ‘Southland Current’. The waters thus contain a large variety of species, which feed in the fertile waters.

An extensive turf of corraline algae (Corallina officinalis), Neptune’s necklace (Hormosira banksii), eelgrass (Zostera muelleri) and golden limpets (Cellana flava) provides bountiful feeding grounds for wading birds such as variable oystercatchers, white-faced heron and bar-tailed godwits.

Polynesian History

The Maori name for Blackhead was Parimahu. Mahu journeyed from Mahia to Waimarama to consult Taewha, a local tohunga and his brother in law, about the mysterious disappearance of a winter kumara store. During the journey he ended up at Blackhead and a cliff was named after him.

European History

Make sure you take a look at the Aramoana homestead on the hill. For obvious reasons, it is known as ‘The Castle’ and houses the sixth generation of the McHardy family. It was built in 1894 and is a grandiose and stately character homestead. The homestead and woolshed were built of Coromandel kauri. Because of the difficulty of mooring the boats near the shore, the wood was thrown overboard and floated ashore on the surf.

Alexander McHardy was born in Scotland in 1830 and arrived in New Zealand in 1863. He was a Highland Dancer and an energetic philanthropist. He died in 1899 after performing the Highland fling in the Palmerston North Opera House. His family took on the work of maintaining the station, which carried 30,000 sheep and 3,000 head of cattle.

Aramoana Station was originally part of Blackhead Station and came into existence in 1894 when Alexander MacHardy constructed a second homestead on the property. The only way to access the home was from the beach at low tide. A road was only constructed to the beach in 1954.

Until 1928, stores were landed and wool was shipped by coastal steamer and lighter, then carried by a horse-drawn wagon. Sometimes they would have to wait days for calm weather. In 1929 the first crawler tractor was used.

In 1769 when Endeavour sailed up the coast, the crew saw many Maori atop Mahu’s cliff and thought it looked black against the horizon. Blackhead thus gained its European name. Very unPC. Probably wouldn’t get away with that these days.


Feature Value Info


DOC Hawkes Bay

Central government organisation


North IslandHawkes BayWaipukurau


  • Walking
  • Free


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DOC Managed

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 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner