Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Bream Head Te Whara Trail

Whangarei, Northland

Submitted by Chris Douglas

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 33 ?

Gnarl Factor: 51 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible



Native bush



Open farmlands

Open ridges/tops


Run Makeup


Sealed Road

Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +15.7%

Average Downhill Gradient: -16.6%


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Estimated Times to Run







This trail is part of the course of the Wild Kiwi 21Km trail run by Total Sports, the only part omitted is the 3km road run at the end.
The trail starts at the Urquharts Bay carpark, here you can view the trail map for the Bream Head (Te Whara ) Reserve.
Enter the reserve and follow the trail around the coastline to your right which is the Busby/Smugglers Cove loop, this is a great warm up before the climbing starts. You will pass the WWII gun emplacement overlooking the Refinery and continue along the coast passing an option to shortcut to Smugglers Bay. The next option is an out and back track to Busby Head at the 2.7km mark if you choose otherwise continue to Smugglers.
The next intersection will take you left at Smugglers Bay into the paddock and follow the trail to the high point of the saddle. Here take a hard right and enter the Te Whara trail leading up the hill you will see a DOC sign on the fence line.
Here the fun begins, ahead are 1207 steps to take you to the top of Mt Lion at 350m but the view from the top is well worth it. The next part you will run along the ridgeline for 2km and at 7.4km there will be a junction which you will turn right to head to Ocean Beach. You will have a bit of a climb here until you reach a point at 8.5km where you will intersect with some stairs at this point take the short out and back turn to the right for 100m and you will be able to reach the 415m peak of this trail. When you get to the end you can climb to the top for 360 deg views (not for the faint hearted). After this return to the junction and continue down the steps and the track will lead you all the way to Ocean Beach.
At ocean beach the track will lead you down to the sandhills on the beach then into the carpark, carry on through the carpark and turn left onto Ocean Beach Rd.
Head up Ocean Beach Road for 1 Km and turn left onto the Peach Cove track sign posted by DOC.
Follow this track which will lead you back onto the main ridge trail you came down and continue the 6km back to the carpark. The only difference is when you descend the 1207 steps at the bottom turn right to shortcut the track directly back to the carpark.

This trail includes the peak Mount Lion.

This headland of volcanic rock sits at the entrance to the stunning Whangarei Harbour with magnificent views to Bream tail and little Barrier in the South to Cape Brett in the North. Stepped in History from the Pa sites to WWII Gun emplacements, Native bush to beautiful beaches this trail is truly stunning.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

Public parking is available at the Bream Head Scenic Reserve. Toilets and changing rooms are available at the parking area.

33 km

37 minutes




on trails follow the DOC orange triangle markers

Perfect throughout.

Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map

Water is available at the start at the toilets and at Ocean beach carpark toilets 11km

The ridge track can be slippery in the winter and car needs to be taken with the tree roots.

Care needs to be taken at the lookouts as there are some significant drops

The Deck Cafe
1 Reotahi Rd McLeods Bay
Great coffee and homemade pies

Trail Legend


Brent Markwick

has completed Bream Head Te Whara Trail twice in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Not to knit pick but more like 19.5 km and 1450 m elevation. E.p.i.c. Beautiful views. Drinking water is an issue. Maybe don't be lazy and leave at 9am like me. Or consider not sweating like a piggy. But I was glad I got those stairs over with early on. I would have been psychologically damaged if I went down them knowing I'd have to go up again. I am in awe of those FKTs out there. It's a stunner.

Karen Koch

February 2, 2023

Bloody hard ( I dare anyone not to think at least one swear word going up the more than 1000 steps from smugglers to mt lion) but the views of the coastline are so very, very worth it. Please take water. Lovely to have a swim afterwards either in sheltered bay at Urquharts or the stunning surf at Ocean Beach ( take care at the latter!)

Denise Limby

May 20, 2020

Great run with stunning views from the tops. Start early in summer as it gets really hot.

Victoria Gallagher

January 30, 2020

Fantastic run! Roots galore, so care needed, especially in damp conditions, but absolutely beautiful. I can recommend parking at Ocean Beach and running to Urquharts Bay as the half way point as there is a water tap by the toilet block to refill bladders etc. Toilets only at Ocean Beach.

Bryony Shaw

August 10, 2019

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Overlapping Trails

These overlap with this trail to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate activity for each.

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