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March 2018 Issue
Home / Trips / Northland

Tutukaka Lighthouse Track, Tutukaka

View of the bays in Tutukaka Harbour from the lighthouse. Photo: Heather Whelan
1.15km to lighthouse
Total Ascent
90min return
From Landowners Lane, 600m past Tutukaka Marina
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Tutukaka Lighthouse Track (gpx, yo 4 KB)
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A part-time island

The Tutukaka coast has been described in National Geographic as one of the top-rated coastlines in the world, and one of the best spots to view it is from Kukutauwhao Island, at Tutukaka Head. The island is accessed on the Tutukaka Lighthouse Track, though there is no actual lighthouse on the island, just a solar powered beacon.

From the car park, the track leads through lush grass, studded with native trees planted by students from nearby Ngunguru School.  After about 500m, we reached the high point of Tutukaka Reserve and enjoyed great views of the various bays inside Tutukaka Harbour and of the coastline.

Just past this point, we came to steep wooden steps leading to a sandy beach with rock pools at the base of some rock outcrops. At high tide, this area is submerged and the outcrops are islets.

At the far end of the beach we came to Kukutauwhao Island  – an island only at high tide when water fills a deep trench (it can be difficult to cross this around high tide or in rough conditions, so time the walk for low tide). The track here was marked by old power poles and was quite steep as it clung to the left-hand side of the island. The views were lost as we plunged through bush, mainly cabbage trees, manuka and flax. Eventually, we found ourselves in a grassy area where a white-painted concrete pyramid housed the beacon. Sheer cliffs dropped away behind the light and we were rewarded with stunning views out to the Poor Knights and Great Barrier Islands. The views inland, past the marina and along the coast to Bream Head, were also magnificent.

– Heather Whelan

More photos from this trip…

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