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 - 9 hr Easy: Walking track

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Short walks

Pukatea Walk

Time: 10 min

From the uppermost camping area, 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. 

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 500m before descending to Rarangi, near the Monkey Bay track. This track is exposed in places and 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 and visitors should keep to the formed track.

Longer, more strenuous walks

Mount Robertson Track

Time: 8-9 hr return

Access onto the Mt Robertson Track is from the Loop Track (tramping track standard) and is well sign posted from two access points on the Port Underwood Road.

The Loop Track climbs through regenerating and mature forest to a junction at about 700 m altitude where the Mt Robertson Track begins. From here the track follows an obvious ridge to the summit through beech forest. This last section of the track takes about two hours. There is no water supply on the track so make sure you take water with you.

At 1036 m above sea level, Mt Robertson (Toko Maru) dominates the Scenic Reserve to which it gives its name.

For a longer trip, with the added reward of starting from sea level, begin your ascent from either Whites Bay or Rarangi using the tracks described above to get to the loop track starting points. 

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 an alternative access to the Loop and Mt Robertson Tracks.

To the Loop and Mt Robertson 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 Loop Track.

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

Pukaka Valley Track suffered flood damage following heavy rain in winter. The damaged areas 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. 

Details on 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 both common in this area.  
  • Marlborough has a dry climate and fire is a significant hazard to human safety, natural areas and agriculture. Open fires are not permitted at any of the East Coast reserves and only portable stoves should be used for cooking.
  • Take your rubbish away with you - no facilities are provided.
  • Purity of drinking water cannot be assured unless it has been boiled, filtered or treated. 
  • 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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