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Whangaruru Peninsula, Whangaruru North Head Scenic Reserve

Heading north on the Whangaruru North Head Track. Photo: Matthew Pike
Whangaruru North Head Scenic Reserve
From SH1, 23km north of Whangarei, take Russell Rd, Rawhiti Rd and Whangaruru North Rd into Whangaruru North Head Reserve
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The winding road to the reserve keeps most away, leaving those who make the journey with miles of rugged coastline and numerous beaches ranging from the easily accessible to the remote and hard-to-reach. Sea-battered jagged islands surround the peninsula, which is largely covered with forest and surrounded by normally calm water on the western side.

There’s a great loop walk here which shows off the bays, rocks and islands and gives an elevated perspective of the landscape. The Whangaruru North Head Track leads along the spine of the peninsula and offers plenty of deviations to explore various sections of coastline.

It’s a walk on which to take your time and spend the day seeing what each corner has to offer. Staying at the DOC campsite in Puriri Bay is a good idea if you want to make a weekend of it.

If you stay at the campsite you can start from there, but day trippers can just as easily begin from a small car park next to Teparapara Bay, one inlet prior to Puriri Bay.

Follow the path around the headland to Puriri Bay. The camp site here will be full in summer, but out of season you’re likely have it to yourself. There’s a locked gate preventing vehicle access further down the road. Follow the road over a small hill. The track heads down to Admirals Bay – a secluded cove from where you can go beach hopping around the rocks at low tide.

The track continues through a gate, following a fence next to a creek, before meandering up a grass track to the bush. Once among the trees you are in kiwi country. At night you’ll almost certainly hear New Zealand’s national bird, and apparently there’s a good chance of seeing them too. The track climbs to a trig, just three minutes off the main path, with excellent views of Cape Home and its nearby cave.

The track then winds down towards the cape, crossing a boardwalk which leads through a two-metre high reed bed before looking out over a secluded bay.

A huge number of steps have been built into the next section of the track as the track climbs to the upper ridge of the peninsula. A clearing soon provides spectacular views of the rugged beaches and rocks to the east. A suitably rugged path leads down to the beach for those wanting to visit. Otherwise, continue further into the forest and along the ridge. The track drops steeply, without the luxury of steps. Soon, though, the ground levels alongside a marshy valley floor and the bush gives way to farmland once more.

Turn left at the gravel road to return to the car park.