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Whitianga Rock to Cooks Beach, Waikato

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Whitianga Rock to Cooks BeachBeginner

Submitted by Sean McWilliams

Info Info
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Trail Information







Urban fringe

Out and Back

Undulating, some big hills

Native bush


1:45 (Slow)
1:20 (Moderate)
0:50 (Fast)



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Run begins at the bottom of Whitianga Rock path and climbs up a short set of stairs. Follow the path around to the left when reaching the first junction; this takes you towards Back Bay (the path is also part of an old earthwork rampart from the site's days as an occupied pa).
Continue on the path across Back Bay and enter the bush trail on the far side. From here there is a vertical climb of approx 100m with a 2.6% gradient, mostly wooden stairs. The descent on the opposite side of the ridge is equally steep. Turn right upon exiting the bush and cross the road.
Continue down the footpath and turn right at the beach. Follow to beach around and up the signposted Shakespeare Reserve track. Follow this all the way around. When it rejoins the main road, turn left towards Cooks Beach. Take the next signposted left (Rees Ave) then continue straight ahead and down a right-of-way to the beach. Turn right and run down the beach to Purangi Estuary (great for a swim!).
Return by heading back the way you came.

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Features of interest

The stone steps at Ferry Landing are one of the oldest stone structures in NZ. Neighbouring Whitianga Rock is a pa site from the Ngati Hei people who inhabited the area pre-colonisation. Flaxmill Bay is the site of a large flax mill from the 19th century. Shakespeare Cliff features a lookout over Mercury Bay, and adjacent Cooks Beach was where Captain James Cook observed the transit of Mercury in 1769.

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 15%

Easy Single Track: 30%

Sealed Road: 55%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

The following trails overlap with this run 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 Strava activity for each


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  • Access

    Track start point is approx. 100m from Ferry Landing. Veer right from the Ferry gangway; you'll walk through a small carpark with the water on your right. You will see the path beginning at the junction of the carpark and beachfront.

    Trnasport from the Whitianga side can be by passenger ferry or car. The drive around is about 40km, the ferry takes 5min. Parking lot at track entrance. There is also parking on the Whitianga side, alongside the beach or next to the playground.

    39 km

    38 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    See course description. There are only a couple of potential wrong turns. Coming down from Shakespeare Cliff towards the road, you can go left down to Lonely Bay. It's a short and pleasant diversion to a beautiful beach and is easily recoverable.

    Perfect throughout.

    Windproof jacket, First aid kit, Cellphone.

    There are taps at the beaches along the way, and a general store at Cooks Beach.

    The bush can get very dry during summer, and wasps can be an issue.


  • Post run indulgence

    Nina's Cafe
    Victoria St, Whitianga
    Great food, great coffee. It's a local institution!

    Purangi Winery
    Main Highway, Purangi
    Great wood-fired pizzas, plus wines, liqeuers, and cider brewed by the owners.

  • Sponsor this trail

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


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