View north from Whites Bay

Image: Uta Purcell | DOC


Whites Bay has walks for a range of abilities, including kids - there are rocky areas for scrambling and exploring and a near-flat sandy beach that's excellent for swimming too.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

10 min - 2 hr Easy: Walking track

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Pukatea Walk

Time: 10 min

From the uppermost camping area at Whites Bay, the Pukatea Walk meanders down to the cable station alongside Pukatea Stream passing through regenerating forest.

Black Jack Track

Time: 1 hr return or 1 hr 30 min to complete the loop

From Whites Bay, the track climbs to a superb viewpoint on the edge of a bluff where Te Whanganui/Port Underwood, Cook Strait and Cape Campbell can be seen. Children need to be closely supervised here. Return the same way or complete a longer, loop option by winding slowly down through regenerating forest.

Mountain biking

Grade: 3/Intermediate, 4/Advanced
Distance: 1.9 km section of Black Jack Track
Time: 20 min approximately

Mountain bikers are allowed to use part of the Black Jack Track to access the Mount Robertson Loop Track. You must only travel uphill on the left hand branch (looking up the hill from the Whites Bay end) of the track.

This is a shared-use track. Follow the mountain bikers code: respect others, respect the rules, respect the track.

Rarangi Bay–Whites Bay Track

Time: 1 hr one way

The Rarangi-Whites Bay Track is a tramping track which must be walked both ways unless transport is arranged. It zig-zags up from Whites Bay to the Port Underwood Road through a pine plantation, then follows the road for about 500 m before descending to Rarangi, near the Monkey Bay track. This track is exposed in places and visitors should keep to the formed track.

Monkey Bay Walk

Time: 20 min return

This short walk leads from the northern end of Rarangi Beach around a rocky point and into Monkey Bay, with its small beach. A lookout point near the beginning of the track offers good views and has signs explaining the way that sea currents have formed Rarangi Beach over thousands of years. This track is exposed in places and visitors should keep to the formed track.

Pukaka Valley

Access is via the unsealed Pukaka Road that leaves Pembers Road about halfway between Tuamarina and Rarangi. The carpark is 17 km from Blenheim.

This forested valley is part of Mt Robertson Scenic Reserve and provides good tramping and hunting opportunities and gives alternative access to the Mount Robertson loop and summit tracks.

To access the loop and summit tracks from the carpark, follow the track up Pukaka Stream crossing it in several places (unbridged crossings). Eventually the track leaves the stream and climbs up to the Mount Robertson Loop Track.

From the carpark allow three hours to Whites Bay and five hours to the Mt Robertson summit.

Pukaka Valley Track has flood-damaged areas that are passable with care. However walkers and mountain bikers should allow extra time for their trip.

Mountain biking tracks Whites Bay-Mt Robertson-Pukaka

There are excellent opportunities for mountain bike riding in the Whites Bay area. Tracks range from tight technical downhill tracks to rocky native single track. 

See the Marlborough Mountain Bike Club website.

Getting there

Follow SH1 to Tuamarina (9 km north of Blenheim or 20 km south of Picton). Turn off and head east via Hunter, Pembers and Rarangi Roads to Rarangi, before climbing steeply over rugged hills to where a short side road leads down to the cable station.

Whites Bay is 15 km from Tuamarina. Alternative access involves a 41 km drive from Picton along the historic and spectacular but winding and unsealed Port Underwood Road.

History and culture

Whites Bay is named after an American known as Black Jack White who, in 1828, deserted his whaling ship and took up residence with local Māori. They in turn had long used the bay as a base for fishing expeditions in Cook Strait.

In 1866, Whites Bay became the South Island terminus of an inter-island telegraph cable. The original cable station still exists. Some of the original forest also remains, although much was burned in the early years of European settlement and is still regenerating.

Know before you go

  • Hot, dry conditions and strong, cold winds are common in this area.  
  • Open fires are not permitted at any of the East Coast reserves and only portable stoves should be used for cooking. 
  • Watch out for wasps, especially in late summer and autumn.


Wairau / Renwick Office
Phone:   +64 3 572 9100
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   Gee Street
Marlborough 7204
Postal Address:   PO Box 51
Marlborough 7243
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