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The Whananaki coast is composed of a series of pasture covered spurs dissected by steep sided gullies. Headlands capped in vegetation form rocky protrusions at the end of the spurs and provide dramatic coastal views. In the gullies, pohutukawa and kauri mix with occasional puriri and kohekohe. At the foot of the gullies are a necklace of sandy beaches, which string along between the headlands.
The final 50 metres involves walking over firm mudflats. 1 hour either side of high tide this is not possible without getting wet feet.
The start of the track is signposted from the farm gate at McAuslin Road, although there is no parking nearby. The nearest place to park is at Sandy Bay Recreation Reserve at the northern end of Sandy Bay, where there are also toilets. It’s approximately 1km to the start of the track.
At Whananaki South, the walk is signposted from by the footbridge to Whananaki North at the end of Whananaki South Road. There is limited parking.
From Sandy Bay the track is marked with orange posts. For approximately 1 hour it follows a metalled farm track between sandy bays. Two accessways to beaches are signposted at the start of the walk and after 30 minutes.
After approximately 1 hour the track becomes grassed before the signposted detour to Captaine Bougainville Monument (45 minutes return). This crosses a worn track through long grass and young pines to the end of the headland.
Return by the same track and continue north for approximately 45 minutes along a grassed farm track.
On leaving views of the beach, the track follows the sandy 4WD track behind Whananaki Recreation Reserve and the beach, before arriving at the estuary (20 minutes).
Bear left behind the baches. The final 50 metres involves walking over firm mudflats. 1 hour either side of high tide this is not possible without getting wet feet. The property owners on the estuary may let you cross the front of their sections if you ask. The only other alternative route is to bear left along the sandy track opposite Whananaki Recreation Reserve, which exits near the roadend of Whananaki South Road.
The Capitaine Bougainville tragedy occurred in 1975, during an easterly storm, 12-metre swell, and giant waves breaking 300 m offshore. It became Northland’s worst maritime disasters.
The Noumea-registered freighter was taking meat and dairy products to Sydney with 29 crew and 8 passengers on board when a fire broke out in the engine room, directly below the lifeboats. With the fire raging out of control, Captain Jean Thomas made the call to abandon ship at 3:40am. The combination of wind, mountainous waves and a powerful current made launching the lifeboats perilous. Many drowned when their lifeboats capsized; others succumbed to cold. The disaster claimed 16 lives.
North Island ▷ Northland ▷ Tutukaka
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 😍