Mangawhai Walkway

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 high-quality beach and cliff-top walkway is one of the top attractions in the Whangarei area. The panoramic views from the cliff edge are breathtaking, from Bream Head to the north all the way down to the Hauraki Gulf, including including the Mokohinau Islands and Great/Little Barrier.

The walk heads north along the beach for about 20 minutes. Follow the sign-posted track that leads quite steeply up towards the cliff top.

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.

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 walkers must keep to the marked track. After climbing to the highpoint (and appreciating the wonderful view) you have the option of walking back along the beach, but only at low tide. 

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.


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)

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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Find out more


DOC maps: Discover the outdoors - DOC's key places, campsites, tracks and huts, and visitor centres on a map

Learn more

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

Kauri dieback disease is attacking kauri trees in Northland. Stop it spreading.


Total fire ban

There is a total fire ban within the Kaipara and Whangarei Districts, effective from 1 February 2015 until further notice.

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

Alerts for Northland places


Whangarei Office
Phone:      +64 9 470 3300
Full office details

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