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Image for the Whananaki page.
This page contains information about the Whananaki Coastal walkway and the Bougainville Memorial walkway, one of the longer coastal walks in the district.
Updated: 5/11/2019 2:07 p.m.

Bougainville Memorial at Whananaki

The Whananaki Coastal Walkway is one of the longer walks in the district with unspoilt coastal scenery and a monument in memory of the freighter Capitaine Bougainville which caught fire and sank off this coast in September 1975.

It was carrying meat and dairy products to Sydney with 29 crew and 8 passengers on board. 16 people died in the mountainous waves and cold, as lifeboats capsized.

The survivors came ashore on the Whananaki South beach and the monument names those who were lost.

The monument is about 2 kms south of Whananaki South and is only accessible by foot.

Times given are for walking the tracks one way only.

Whananaki Coastal walkway 

Grade:        3
Time:          3 hours
Distance:     5.85 km

From the south

Limited parking is available on McAuslin Road at Sandy Bay. Please park respectfully.

The walk follows an easy grade metal track for the first 3.5 km, then it becomes a grass surface.

At the northern end of the walk and reaching Pukekawa Road and an information board, it is possible to continue to the Bougainville Memorial (at low tide only) which is accessible by walking along the beach to the far end.  There is then a waymark post that indicates where a steep path rises up to the monument.  There is a scrabble across shore rocks to reach this.

From the north

Car parking is available for vehicles with good ground clearance at Whananaki South at the end of Pukekawa Road.

The Whananaki Coastal Walkway rises up to the right where there is an information board.  The track is well waymarked and is a combination of mown and grazed grass, becoming a metalled track beyond the pine plantation.

The Bougainville Memorial (at low tide only) is accessible by walking along the beach to the far end.  There is then a waymark post that indicates where a steep path rises up to the monument.  There is a scrabble across shore rocks to reach this.

Dress to allow for rapid changes in the weather and good footwear is recommended.

Follow the link below to download a printable map of the track.

Whananaki Coastal walkway map [180kb]

What to expect

  • fantastic coastal scenery, remote and exposed
  • fairly good walking surfaces but grades and length make this a walk for people with a reasonable level of fitness
  • the beach part of the track is accessible at low tide only
  • gates are locked along this walkway. Stiles are available to cross fences. 

How to get to Sandy Bay

Take the route north from Whangarei through the settlements of Tikipunga, Glenbervie, Ngunguru, Tutukaka, Matapouri and Woolleys Bay.

Sandy Bay is the next bay and the last settlement on the coast before the road turns inland. McAuslin Road is signposted off to the right at the point where the road curves to the left.

How to get to Whananaki South

Take State Highway 1 north from Whangarei. Follow the highway for approximately 16 km and turn right into Whananaki North Road (signposted Opuawhanga / Whananaki). 

After approximately 8 km, turn right onto Hailes Road and follow the road into the settlement of Whananaki South.


​Track grades

A well made path
    with easy access for
    most people
    including families.

2  A short walk generally
    on well made paths
    but may include
    steeper sections.

A longer walking track
    usually well made
    including steps and
    more suitable for
    people with
    reasonable fitness.


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