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The views from the summit of Bream Head stretch to the horizon in every direction. You can see the Coromandel Peninsula, Cape Rodney, Hen and Chickens Islands and Whangarei Harbour.
The Te Whara track follows an ancient Maori trail from Urquharts Bay to Ocean Beach. Te Whara was the principal wife of the rangatira Manaia.
Bream Head Scenic Reserve is located at Whangarei Heads, northeast of Whangarei City. The track can be walked from either end starting at the Urquharts Bay car park or the Ocean Beach car park down Ranui Road.
To walk the route west to east start from Urquharts Bay carpark at the end of Urquharts Bay Road. Bear left over farmland for 10 minutes to a signpost at the edge of the native forest before the ascent of Mount Lion.
The eastern end can be attempted from Ocean Beach. Follow Ocean Beach Road and turn right into Ranui Road. Continue to the parking area with toilets just before the beach.
The track starts from the southern end of Ocean Beach by climbing the dune.
The track is marked with orange triangles and is well-formed but uneven. It follows the ridge from Mount Lion to Bream Head.
From Smugglers Bay the track climbs very steeply for 1 hour to the summit of Mount Lion. For the next 1½ hours it descends the ridge to the signposted junction with the Peach Cove Track, passing through a grazed area demarcated with an electric fence. There are occasional clearings with views.
The climb to the lookout at the summit of Bream Head takes approximately 1¼ hours, although the final mounting of the pinnacles involves clambering up the sheer rock. Take extreme care and if you are wary of heights do not climb the pinnacle. The summit area is very small and be aware of strong wind gusts.
To reach Ocean Beach, retrace your final few steps from the summit and follow the ridge past the radar station (30 minutes). The final 45 minutes crosses open grassland and is marked with orange posts.
The track passes through some of the best coastal forest in the North Island. At the Bream Head summit, you can enjoy a magnificent coastal panorama taking in Motukokako (Cape Brett) in the north to Tawharanui (Cape Rodney) in the south and includes the offshore islands Tawhiti Rahi and Aorangi (Poor Knights), Marotere (Hen and Chickens group), Hauturu (Little Barrier) and Aotea (Great Barrier) in the far east.
To minimise disturbance to the area, and out of respect to local iwi and their ancestors, please do not venture off the marked tracks.
The Department of Conservation, local iwi the Whangarei Heads Restoration Trust and the community are committed to restoring Bream Head, which includes a re-vegetation programme, weed and pest control. You may see predator traps beside the track.
The peaks of the Bream Head Range are the eroded stumps of former volcanic cones, erupted around 20 million years ago. The volcanic vents were filled with slowly cooling lava, which were more resistant than the layers of ash, pumice, lava and mud forming the surrounding cone. Weathering agents over the millennia have removed the less resistant layers, leaving the exposed neck, known as volcanic plug. The andesite lava was silica rich and formed dykes such as Taurikura, at the eastern end, and parasitic cones on the main vent.
With a warm and moist climate, suitable for growing crops, a close proximity to a bountiful sea and a major vantage point, Bream Head would have made a suitable site for Maori occupation. Large midden heaps behind Smugglers Bay indicate populations must have been numerous and inhabited the area for centuries. However by the time first European contact was made, little evidence of occupation remained.
North Island ▷ Northland ▷ Whangarei
A lot of steps when you arrive at the beach - around 800 I think!
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This track basically stretches the whole length of Bream Head Scenic Reserve. We "cheated" and started at the Peach Cove car park which made it a 4 hour loop track for us. Amazing volcanic peaks at 465 above sealevel where you can get right on top for a 360 degree amazing view. You will end up walking down the ridge towards Ocean Beach and will be able to see more than 6 km of white sandy beach before you. This is just the most stunning and best kept secret of Northland, New Zealand. And it's free!!
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 😍