Onoke Spit

Onoke Spit

Onoke Spit

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!


Deep Nature

FREE MAP - The best of 21 nature guidebooks on one map.

Online Maps

FREE Header

Deep Nature NEW

Author Marios Gavalas, Rankers and hundreds of contributors bring you a free web map to help you get lost (and find yourself) in Aotearoa's nature.


approx 7 km return | 3 hours return

Onoke Spit is rare among the North Island’s coastal landscapes because it has not succumbed to housing development, is largely free from grazing farm animals and has not been invaded by introduced marram grass. Native coastal plants such as sand tussock, pingao (a striking orange dune binder), golden scabweed and the low lying shrub Pimelia urvilleana thus colonise the grey shingle.

The rare dune dwelling katipo spider also finds habitat in the dune system.


You will have to wade the knee deep stream (the level may vary according to season and previous rainfall) to access the spit from the Ocean Beach side.


From Featherston follow Western Lake Road 38 km then veer left at the signpost to Lake Onoke (right takes you to Ocean Beach). The road has now become unsealed and continues 1.5 km, ending abruptly at the knee deep stream behind the shingle dunes of the spit.

To access the spit from Lake Ferry, continue to the parking area at the roadend (4.1 km from the Cape Palliser turnoff). You can start an exploration this end, however as access is easier, it tends to be more frequented.


You will have to wade the knee deep stream (the level may vary according to season and previous rainfall) to access the spit from the Ocean Beach side.

Heading east, the wide expanse of shingle opens up, smattered with driftwood and the waste of human activity. Dunes bound the lake on one side of this spit, while a menacing ocean breaks with untamed force on the other. The soothing chatter of rolling pebbles accompanies every wave.

Keep well back from the dunes, in fact walk by the ocean, especially during springtime, as many shore dwelling birds are nesting. Most nests are merely hollows in the ground and eggs can be camouflaged, so be vigilant.

The dunes diminish briefly and views north to Lake Onoke open up. The dunes then reappear towards Lake Ferry and the often barred mouth of Lake Onoke. This bar is often frequented by fishermen.


Coastal birds such as banded dotterels, black backed gulls, Caspian terns and white fronted terns also use the site for nesting. Their greatest threat results from the use of motor vehicles, who use the spit for recreation. As most nests are merely shallow hollows in the sand, disturbance is common and could be reduced if vehicles stayed close to the ocean and away from the dunes.


Feature Value Info


North IslandWairarapaMartinborough


  • Walking
  • Free


No written reviews!

Can you contribute? If you've experienced Onoke Spit then please and write a review.

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 😍

Nick Morrison's avatar

Nick Morrison

Rankers owner