Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Waikouaiti Beach & Lagoon

Palmerston, Otago

Submitted by Richele McKenzie

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done

Grunt Factor: 7 ?

Gnarl Factor: 34 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Urban fringe

Out and Back

Totally/mostly flat

Plantation/exotic forest




Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +0.7%

Average Downhill Gradient: -0.7%


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Estimated Times to Run







This is a short run exploring the lagoon and spotting birdlife.

Starting from the carpark, head onto the beach and run north for approx 900m, then turn into the sandy inlet for the lagoon. Soon you will see a track through the pines on the left. Follow a short distance until you come to a DOC sign for Hawksbury Lagoon Wildlife Refuge. Continue along the causeway, running three small "out and backs" before returning along the beach to the start. Two of these are along the causeway and the third is over a small bridge and along a small lakeside track (turn around at the farm stile). This gives you the chance to read all the information boards and spot many different water birds. Watch for horses (and sea lions) when returning along the beach.

Hawksbury Lagoon - wildlife refuge.

Waikouaiti Beach - horses are trained along the beach at low tide. And if you're really lucky you'll see a sea lion.

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.

Plenty of parking in the carpark.

16 km

14 minutes




Generally good.

Windproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Cellphone, Map

Unknown. Public toilet at the nearby sports ground (unsure of opening times). There is a smaller cafe on Beach street. There are shops, cafes and a public toilet on the main road at Waikouaiti.

Can get very windy. Take care during stormy weather.
Swans and gulls in the lagoon may get a bit angry during nesting season.

Watch for horses along the beach.
Occasionally sea lions sunbathe on the beach - they can be well camouflaged!
Take care at high tide.

The Outpost
Main Road, Waikouaiti
Lovely coffee. Good range of Gluten Free and Vegetarian options.

Trail Legend

Geoffrey Smith

Geoffrey Smith

has completed Waikouaiti Beach & Lagoon twice in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Great for an explore around the lagoon and beach

Adam Clifford

January 8

Just as Richele mentioned, the East track is still very overgrown as of Jan 2024. I'll add that about 250m from the bridge, it turns into Grass Bashing through long grass and Cutty Grass, to the point that the track is unidentifiable. Make up the time on the other two parts of the trail.

Geoffrey Smith

January 4

The little track heading east from the lagoon is currently very overgrown with signs warning of tree fall. I managed to spot two different Kōtuku species this time, including Kōtuku ngutupapa (Royal Spoonbill). No sea lions though.

Richele McKenzie

February 9, 2023

N8ce little trail with a mix of track surfaces. Heaps of birds to look at in the lagoon and watch out for seals on the beach.

Kirstine Collins

September 7, 2021

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