Mangawhai Walk

Track category

Walking track


2 - 3 hr return


5 km


Scenic view from the top of the cliffs at Mangawhai.
Scenic view from the top of the cliffs at

This is an excellent beach and cliff-top walkway through farmland and bush areas. The high quality grading of the track has made it one of the top attractions in the Whangarei area. You will enjoy outstanding views of Bream Head, the hen and Chicken Islands, and all the way down to the Hauraki Gulf including the Mokohinau Islands and Great/Little Barrier.

The walk heads north along the beach for about 20 minutes, until you see signs. Follow the track that leads quite steeply up onto the first knoll. Here, the first views of the coast emerge.

As the track progresses upward towards the top of the cliff and farmland, the views expand and diversify becoming more breathtaking the higher you climb. Then after the 20-minute ascent, the walk becomes a little easier, winding above almost sheer slopes where nikau, pohutukawa and taraire cling for life among the rocks above the stony beach below.

Gaps in the tree line by the road reveal yet more views that are stunning. It pays to keep looking around as you progress along the now almost level track. One of the more interesting features is a natural formation called 'the giant staircase', a natural amphitheatre just below the track carved from the hillside.

The track meanders through private property and trampers must keep to the marked track. Beach access is at the beginning and end of the track. 

Then, after climbing steeply, you get another outstanding view from a resting point. The top end of the track is signposted to the beach or back where you came from. You must do the beach walk at low tide.

The track drops from the high point through long grasses and forests of nikau and pohutukawa by a steeply descending path to the rocky beach. On the beach, turn right and note the leaning rock of massive proportions just 50 metres away. If there is water surging through the gap, you have misjudged the tide and you must return via the cliff.

A pleasant walk of about 40 minutes gets you from the leaning rock to the Surf Club.

View a track location map

Getting there

Mangawhai is located on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway just 90 minutes drive from the Auckland CBD (turn off SH1 just north of Te Hana) or 50 minutes south of Whangarei (turn off SH 1 at Waipu).

You can park at the Mangawhai Surf Life Saving Club. The beginning of the track is signposted from there on.


Bird and wildlife watching Bird and wildlife watching
Fishing Fishing

With 5 beaches within a 15-minute drive you are spoiled for choice, whether it is sailing, fishing, surfing or just lazing on the golden expanses of sand.

10,000 Steps Northland

This track equates to approximately 6,250 steps.

10,000 Steps Northland recommends this track (PDF, 52K)

as a very unique and spectacular journey.

About the area

Mangawhai's sand dunes are a dominant feature of the harbour, and are home to the rare fairy and Caspian tern, variable oystercatcher and the New Zealand dotterel.

Plan and prepare

To walk along the beach, you will need to know what the tide is doing. Depending on the tide times, you can go up the ridge first, or vice versa.

Parts of this track are across private farm land and may be closed due to lambing.

Warning: It must be low tide for you to embark on the return loop, and to return from the cliff top to the beach. If there is water surging through the gap in the massive rock formation, you have misjudged the tide and you must return via the cliff route.

Take extreme caution when ascending up the cliffs or descending down to the beach because of the steepness and eroded nature of the ocean-facing cliffs.

Dogs are not permitted on the private land. Offending dogs may be shot as this is a private farm.

Note: Track linking Mangawhai Walk and Cove Road is closed 1 September until the end of October for lambing and calving.

Northland reserve bylaws apply to Mangawhai Government Purpose Wildlife Refuge Reserve.

Help stop kauri dieback

Kauri dieback disease is killing our native kauri. It spreads by soil movement, but you can help prevent it.

  • Stay on the track and off kauri roots.
  • Clean your gear before and after visiting kauri forests.

Visit the kauri dieback website for more information on how you can help.

Track location map

Map of the Mangawhai Walk.

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Check, Clean, Dry between waterways and stop the spread of didymo.

Kauri dieback disease is attacking kauri trees in Northland. Find out how to stop it spreading.


Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies

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Phone:      +64 9 470 3300
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