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Dunes Trail, Bay of Plenty

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Dunes TrailBeginner

Submitted by jim robinson

Info Info
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Trail Information





Bay of Plenty


Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Undulating, small hills only



2:45 (Slow)
2:00 (Moderate)
1:30 (Fast)



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Access is open for walkers, runners, bikers but please treat the area with respect as it is both environmentally and culturally important. Dogs are OK but MUST be kept under close control. Weka are often killed by dogs: please do not add to this problem. Uncontrolled dogs are also a hazard for cyclists.

Run up to 10km from Opotiki to the eastern end of the trail. There are pou (poles) marking every kilometre.

Over the Pakowhai bridge, the first 800m is just flood-plain paddocks but you're soon into regenerating coastal land. At 3km, Hikuwai beach has toilets and parking. At 5.5km, there's a section where the trail goes right onto the beach. This is the best bit of the lot so if you're only wanting a short run or walk, drive east of Opotiki to Tirohanga road, park, and run from there.

This whole coast is an ecological treasure: don't be afraid to stop running for a jot and look over the sand, dunes or saltmarsh for weka, pied stilts, herons, oystercatchers and even dotterals and bitterns.

A good option if it hasn't been raining is to run one way on the beach, you can do this from 1km-about 8km, though you will get wet feet in a couple of places.

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Features of interest

The Dunes Trail is one of the highlights of the Motu Trails, one of 20+ Great Rides on the New Zealand Cycle Trail. The Dunes Trail was purpose built in 2010 and meanders along the sand dunes east of Opotiki. It's wide, easy shared-use trail so ideal for stuff like mixing a family walk and picnic with a jog, or running while the kids ride bikes.

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 0%

Technical Single Track: 0%

Moderate Single Track: 0%

Easy Single Track: 95%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 0%

Gravel Road: 5%

Route Data


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  • Access

    The Dunes Trail starts at the northern end of Opotiki. From the intersection by the Hot Bread Shop of SH2 and SH35, head north for 800m (St Johns St), go straight across the roundabout and keep going another 800m to the end of the road - and the impressive Pakowhai ki Otutaopuku pedestrian bridge. There's ample parking, a drinking fountain, shelter and, in the pavilion in the middle of the playing field, toilets. There's also a bmx jumps track. The bridge marks the start of both the Otara stopbank trail and the Dunes Trail. Otara Stopbank will be described in another listing.

    Opotiki has two shuttle companies that may be able to do group pickups from places like Rotorua and Tauranga. Contact Motu Trails Hire & Shuttle or/and Motu Trails Limited. The Motu Trails Limited HQ is a two-minute jog from the start of the Dunes Trail. They offer secure parking as well as bike hire (including children's bikes).

    1 km

    2 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Just look ahead for markers, follow the trail rather than detouring onto gravel beach access roads. The only section that's a bit tricky is Hikuwai Beach, where you briefly go onto the beach-side sealed access road. Follow the markers, the route sweeps in a couple of big arcs to get round drainage channels (late-2016, these may be bridged soon). Please if you are accessing the beach do not just run through the spinifax, follow access trails.


    Lightweight fleece top, Short-sleeved thermal top, Windproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.

    There's the drinking fountain at Memorial Park. After that, carry your own, or buy drink from the petrol station store at Tirohanga.

    In the summer peak, the Dunes Trail does get busy, but not overly so. It's a huge shared-use success, with all ages of people riding, walking, running, or doing exercise on the bench tables overlooking the sea. Off -peak, you'll be lucky to see a couple of other people. If the trail is busy, keep up the vibe with a smile or greeting.

    No real hazards here unless there's a heavy storm, in which case it would be massively hazardous to use the Tirohanga Beach section of trail. Obviously, if there's a major earthquake, the trail will face tsunami risk. Keep an eye for cyclists and step aside to let them pass.

  • Post run indulgence

    Opotiki i-SITE
    70 Bridge St, Opotiki
    The folks at Opotiki i-SITE can give you info and ideas, and a Motu Trails map marking the Dunes Trail. There's also info here: http://www.opotikinz.com/visit-opotiki/what-do/superb-biking-walking-running

    Tirohanga Beach Motor Camp
    743 State Highway 35 Tirohanga Beach Opotiki
    Excellent motor camp, 50 metres from the trail and beach, and close to other local trails like Whakaumu. Plus, they are official partners to Motu Trails, by supporting them, you support the trails.

    Opotiki Holiday Park
    39 Potts Avenue, Opotiki 3122
    Opotiki Holiday Park is 800m from the start of the Dunes Trail. A super handy spot, close to town. Plus, they are official partners to Motu Trails, by supporting them, you support the trails.

  • Blog Posts and Articles

    Lots of info at http://www.motutrails.co.nz

  • Sponsor this trail

    If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch below:


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