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Whangamumu Te Toroa Track loop, Cape Brett

The calm waters of Whangamumu Harbour. Photo: Michael Smith
Cape Brett
From Russell, drive 27km on Russell/Kempthorne/Manawaora roads and turn left onto Rawhiti Road. Track begins 1 km from junction
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Cape Brett may be the jewel in the crown of Bay of Islands walks, but there are equally rewarding day trips in the vicinity.

Crossing a stile onto farmland, walk along an expansive grass and then gravel path, amidst secondary growth of tree ferns and manuka. The path then narrows, turning to clay on a steady climb to the brow of a ridge. Here the track branches left to Kauri Grove and the Cape Brett Track. Within minutes you’re greeted to stunning views of Home Point and Whangaruru to the south, and Whangamumu Harbour directly below.

Descend the grassy slopes to the pohutukawa-fringed beach, head north along the beach and around the headland leading to the ruins of the whaling station. The station operated from the late 19th Century until 1940, when an oil slick from a wreck forced the whales to alter their migratory route, putting the station out of business.

Hike uphill through increasingly dense bush, then make the steep descent to the two inlets in Te Toroa Bay. From the second inlet it’s a strenuous 40-minute climb to the junction with the Cape Brett Track. Turning south, move along the undulating spine of the peninsula towards a high point of 345m at the Pukehuia trig, with magnificent views on both sides – particularly the outer Bay of Islands to the north-west. Reach another junction and begin the gentle descent of the Kauri Grove Track – a mix of regenerating bush and young kauri – eventually completing the loop.

Because the walk involves entering a section of the Cape Brett Track, it attracts a partial fee of $10, payable at the Russell Information Centre.