Mangawhai Adventure DayIntermediate
Submitted by Henry Barfoot
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Front country - easily accessible
Undulating, some big hills
Native bushPlantation/exotic forestBeachCoastal
A loop course starting and finishing in Mangawhai Heads. Although there's a bit of sealed road, it's worth it to join up an incredible mix of running terrain. Manuka scrub, native bush in a privately owned reserve with some impressive waterfalls, elevated forestry roads with sweeping views, and a stunning coastal section that carries you through to Mangawhai Heads surf beach. There are also shorter options available. Navigation is pretty straightforward and it's probably 95% runnable.
As you will be running through a kauri reserve please start with clean shoes. From the information centre, head down the unsealed road and take the left into the bush reserve, following Pauls Track. The small detour to the lookout is highly recommended. Turn right when you see the signpost for Thelma Rd, then follow your nose out to Cove Rd, turn left, then eventually right onto King Rd. You are heading for the Tanekaha Reserve (on Google Maps) which is the aforementioned kauri reserve, privately owned and maintained by a local trust. (If you want to shorten the run, and take out a long road section, get a friend to drop you here.) Take the main trail up past the three waterfalls, each more impressive than the last, except for the third one. The trail mainly follows the stream, occasionally climbing up over an outcrop, then eventually climbs sharply uphill.
At the top the DOC-maintained Langsview Track heads off to the right, but you turn left. (However Langsview Track gives a shortcut to Bream Tail Rd, which creates a considerably easier loop). Just when you think you have taken a wrong turn onto someone's driveway you'll emerge onto the tail end of Cullen Rd, which will now carry you all the way down to Waipu Cove. The higher reaches of the road are unsealed and follow a ridge through some forestry areas, with sweeping views to the sea.
The last few km's of Cullen Rd are unsealed, until you reach the main road and turn back to Waipu Cove. (Although it looks like there should be a shorter way to Waipu Cove, the forestry roads you can see on Google Earth are overgrown and impassable, sorry.) Enjoy a well earned break at The Cove restaurant, though you might want to hold back a little on the cabinet food, there's a wee way to go. From The Cove you can just see the start of the Waipu coastal walkway, with a pole on the far side of the stream marking the start. A few km of stunning, isolated coastline takes you to Langs Beach, then a few km of highway to your left turn at the unsealed Bream Tail Rd.
The remaining section of the run follows the Te Araroa trail, and is well marked. Once you've climbed the hill you'll cross onto a farm track, reminiscent of rambling the English countryside, then a final sheep track carries you into another stand of kauri. Finally you reach the Mangawhai Coastal Walkway, a well formed trail with breathtaking views that takes you through to Mangawhai Heads surf beach.
There's more water available at the public toilets at the end of the beach, and sometimes a coffee & ice cream stand too. At very low tide continue around the rocks from the surf beach, otherwise follow Wintle St for a few minutes until you reach the first marked path for beach access. Follow the sand past the waterfront campground and along the wide, sheltered estuary. Two options from here - climb the first set of stairs, for a birds eye view of the estuary, or at mid tide or lower follow the beach around the rocks to the smaller bay where a grass track takes you up to Eveline St. Whichever option you take, all roads lead to the main road, with the Information Centre at the top of the hill.
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Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 10%
Moderate Single Track: 15%
Easy Single Track: 20%
Farm Road / 4WD Track: 10%
Gravel Road: 10%
Sealed Road: 35%
Mangawhai Information Centre, adjacent to Mangawhai Golf course and at high point of Molesworth Drive in Mangawhai heads
Parking by Information Centre
As you head up Tanekaha Reserve, take the main trail that heads up past the waterfalls and basically follow the stream up. When you reach the top you'll hit the DOC maintained Langsview Track. Turn left at this point (or right to do a shorter loop, the Langsview track exits the bush near Bream Tail Rd).
At Waipu Cove cross the steam just past the shops, looking for the pole on the other side of the stream then head up the grassy hill.
Short-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.
Can refill at Waipu Cove, approx halfway, and Mangawhai Heads beach, 4km from end
Waipu Cove to Langs Beach section is muddy and slow in winter. There can be some ankle deep stream crossings in Tanekaha Reserve after heavy rain.
Post run indulgence
Halfway - Waipu Cove
Coffee, hot chips, cakes, pizza - it's all good. Handy place to refill water bottles, and informal enough to visit in running gear. Restarting will be the hard part.
Bennetts of Mangawhai
Italian inspired setting with great coffee and food. Order the mochaccino, you won't be disappointed.
So good. Perfect for post run late lunch or early dinner. Amazing food with big portions, lots of plant based options, woodfired pizza. Good craft beer and wine selection.
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