Cape Brett Track
16.3 km one way
View of Cape Brett
Cape Brett Track traverses through native and regenerating bush. The track runs along the ridge through Maori-owned land before reaching conservation land at Deep Water Cove - Manawahuna for the last 6 km of the track. You can take a side-track (1 hr return) down to Deep Water Cove, where you can enjoy a refreshing swim and snorkel.
From the forested ridges, you can take in spectacular coastal scenery. Towards the Cape, walking alongside the dramatic cliff-face, you can see abundant fish and bird life below - often dolphins and seals will come close to shore.
From Deep Water Cove onwards, the track gets more challenging and becomes quite exposed with steep drop-offs to the sea below.
Cape Brett ocean view from near the lighthouse, with Cape Brett Hut in the lower left corner
Although it is not that far to the lighthouse, it will take you about 2-3 hours, and can be quite tiring. The effort is rewarded with outstanding views of the outer Bay of Islands, north to the Cavalli Islands and south to Whangaruru and beyond to the Poor Knights Islands.
Along the track, you will come across an electric fence crossing the width of the peninsula. This was constructed in 1995 to reduce the impact of possums on the coastal bush. Ensure the gate is closed.
10,000 Steps Northland
This track equates to approximately 26,666 steps.
Cape Brett is located in the Bay of Islands, 26 km north-east of Russell, and can be accessed by land or sea.
By land: the track begins from Oke Bay, Rawhiti, 26 km from Russell or can be joined from the Whangamumu Track.
By sea: for those people wanting access to the reserve by sea, landings can be made at either Deep Water Cove or at Cape Brett Landing. Calm conditions are necessary to get ashore at Cape Brett landing. In adverse wind conditions, you can still come ashore at Deep Water Cove, except in south-westerly winds. From there it is a 2.5 hours walk to the Cape Brett hut.
Secure parking is available at Hartwells, Kaimarama Bay, end of Rawhiti Road, for a small fee.
A water taxi is available from Russell and Paihia.
Track location map.
Diving and snorkelling
The 14-metre high Cape Brett Lighthouse stands at the entrance to the Bay of Islands. The iconic lighthouse was first lit in 1910, and it still has its internal workings. The light was unique in that it was the first light of three in New Zealand to utilize mercury bath technology.
The Cape Brett Lighthouse keeper's cottage built in 1908 is a typical lighthouse keepers dwelling of the early 20th century. It is the only one of its type remaining in Northland. Its ceramic chimney pots are of particular interest.
The area is rich in early Maori history with remains of ancient pa sites (fortified villages) visible at various locations. Respect these areas and keep to the track so as not to disturb the sites.
You can enjoy a refreshing swim and snorkel at Deep Water Cove.
Places to stay
The hut is locked. You will receive instructions on getting the access code in your booking confirmation letter. Make sure you take the code with you.
Plan and prepare
- Dogs are not allowed.
- Camping is not permitted at the Cape due to fire risk.
- Fires are not permitted
- You must pack out all your rubbish including food scraps, to prevent rat infestations.
- Before you go call DOC Bay of Islands to find out about water supplies at the hut.
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.
View of Cape Brett
To walk this 16 km undulating track, you should be self-sufficient and will need to have a high degree of fitness and experience.
This track has many bluffs and steep cliffs that require extreme caution when tramping – remain on the track at all times.
You will need 8 hours of daylight one way to complete the journey to the old lighthouse settlement.
You must take plenty of water to drink during the tramp. Carry a water treatment system if you are staying at the Cape Brett hut as the quality of drinking water cannot be guaranteed during summer. Before tramping in or staying at the hut, check with the DOC Bay of Islands office about the water supply.
You will need to wear tramping/hiking boots, especially if the track is wet.
A track fee applies for the portion of track that runs over private land:
- Rawhiti - Deep Water Cove - $30.00 per adult, $15.00 per child.
Track and hut fees can be paid at the Bay of Islands i-SITE Visitor Centre in Paihia:
Phone: +64 9 402 7345
Website: Bay of Islands i-SITE
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