Australasian gannet/tākapu at Cape Kidnappers
Image: Andy Chilton | Creative Commons


Walk along the beach, past towering cliffs, to the largest, most accessible mainland Australasian gannet/tākapu colony in the world.

Track overview

19 km return return via same track

Walking and tramping

5 hr return Easy: Walking track

Seasonal restrictions

The walk is possible all year, but visit between early November and late February to see the gannets.

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Follow the beach at low tide to the Australasian gannet colony/tākapu at Cape Kidnappers. On the beach journey to the Cape, there are dramatic views of the stratified rock beds and fault lines that underlie coastal Hawke’s Bay.

Black Reef is the first nesting site, 7.5 km from Clifton. Established on the large sandstone rocks at the inshore end of the reef, the tākapu now also nest on the headland. From Black Reef, walk 800 m to where the track leaves the beach and continue up to the shelter. Picnic tables, information panels, water and toilets are available at this site. Take a break and enjoy the view over Hawke Bay.

It is well worth the 1 km walk further to the Plateau colony, at the benched area on the hill. From the elevation enjoy the panoramic views to the Kaweka and Maungaharuru ranges in the west, and out over Hawke Bay to the Mahia Peninsulain the north.

Nature and conservation

The towering cliffs are made up of sandstone, conglomerate, mudstone, river gravel, pumice and silt, as well as glimpses of petrified wood and lignite. Fossilised shells can be seen in the sandstone near Black Reef.

The fragmented fault and tilt lines along the cliffs record the long history of the formation and gradual raising of New Zealand, which lies at the junction of two major sections of the earth’s crust.

Know before you go

When to go
Try to visit between early November and late Feburary. Nesting occurs between mid-September and mid-December. The first chicks hatch around the beginning of November and the last chicks migrate to Australia in May.
Be aware

The walk to Cape Kidnappers can only be done at low tide. It's best to leave Clifton no sooner than 3 hours after high tide, and depart the cape to return no later than 1 hour 30 minutes after low tide. Check the Cape Kidnappers tide timetable 

Occasionally, high tides and big seas block access along the beach.

Rest or picnic away from the cliffs – slips sometimes occur. 


Ahuriri / Napier Office
Phone:   +64 6 834 3111
Address:   59 Marine Parade
Napier 4110
Full office details
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