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When a place gets "discovered," it loses that magical quality that made it worth traveling to to begin with. These spots sometimes make you think twice before sharing your secret. However Bream Head Scenic Reserve covers such a large area that I’m happy to “spill the beans”.
The reserve is located at the tip of the Whangarei Heads Peninsula. Giant peaks tower at the entrance to the Whangarei Harbour with the Majestic Mt Lion at an impressive 476 meters.
An array of walking and hiking trails have been developed throughout the entire forest – from easy walking to challenging hiking.
The very successful community project ‘Backyard Kiwi’ has managed to turn the decline of kiwi around in the area. Locals actively support kiwi recovery through predator trapping and ongoing pest and weed control, enabling the wild kiwi population to grow. Being one of only 5 Kiwi reserves in New Zealand, Bream Head Scenic Reserve is an absolute no dog zone. Kiwi also cross our roads so please take care when driving at night.
Walks and Hikes:
Busby Head/Smugglers Cove:
1 ½ hrs round trip – easy walk on gravel path.
This easy 3-km loop track takes you around from Busby Head to Smugglers Bay. You will pass the Gun turrets from WWII. It’s fairly easy walking and you are certain to meet a few friendly cows along the way. The views are wonderful and if you bring swim gear you might just head “off-piste” for a quick swim before you actually get to Smugglers Cove.
Make sure to bring your camera!
Peach Cove Track:
3 hrs return – good shoes and average level of fitness needed (steps)
Park at the Peach Cove Carpark just before Ocean Beach. The climb to the ridgeline is pretty cruel for us average walkers, but once up there its just faboulous. Once on the ridge turn right towards Peach Cove and be prepared for approx. 900 steps to the Cove. You can rent the small cabin just up from the Cove (contact DOC.
Te Whara Loop Track:
3 ½ hrs round trip - good shoes and average level of fitness needed
Park at the Peach Cove carpark and head for the ridgeline. Turn left towards Ocean Beach. Again, it’s a workout but an absolutely fantastic walk once you’re into it. Make sure to bring your camera as there are some spectacular views. There are some serious drop offs so please keep to the marked tracks.
About halfway along there’s a spur track that shoots off to the right. Be sure to take this short track if you’re keen on siting on top of Mt Lion. Beware- it’s not for the fainthearted! But the views are astonishing!
Bream Head Scenic Reserve:
5-6 hrs - good shoes and high level of fitness needed
Park at the Urquharts Bay carpark and turn left towards Smugglers Cove. Signs will guide you up the steep rise to the ridge. Fantastic hiking with the most spectacular 360-degree coastal views! Looking north towards Kauri Mountain you can see as far as Cape Brett while also taking in the Poor Knights Islands in the distance. To the South the Hen and Chicken Islands rise out of the Ocean with the Coromandel visible in the distance. To the far east you will be able to see both the little and the Great Barrier Islands.
As you head towards Ocean Beach you will pass the ruins of the WWII Radar station. The information board there will give all the interesting info.
It will take approx. 6 hours to do the entire track depending on your pace. Make sure to bring water and food and of course your camera. Again – stay on the marked tracks.
As you descend you have the most fantastic views looking north. Make sure to bring your swim gear, as a swim in the crystal clear waters of Ocean Beach is a ‘must do’.