Watkin Powell Track offers a short walk to a secluded beach near Otamure Bay Campground in Northland, New Zealand, and it is 1/3 of a kilometer round trip. This is an over-the-top hike that you’ll walk up, over, and down a small ridge to reach the beach at Tauwhara Bay. Once there, you can snorkel and swim to your heart’s content, or continue walking along a crescent-shaped cove that faces east across the Pacific Ocean. The hike is located near the town of Whananaki North on the west coast of Northland.
Start from a trailhead on Rockell Road, just 300 meters past the entrance to Otamure Bay Campground, which is situated along another sandy beach at Otamure Bay. The track starts with a wooden staircase and indeed much of the short walk is stairs. Gain twenty meters of elevation over the first hundred meters of the walk as the track climbs a verdant ridge through a dense subtropical rainforest dominated by native plants like cabbage trees, manuka, and puriri.
Crossing the crest, you’ll spot the ocean through the trees – a calm body of blue water stretching to the horizon. Descend a switchback and more stairs to reach the beach. The trail ends beneath a grove of tall pohutukawa trees at the edge of the sand.
If you look to the right at the end of the track, you will see a rock wall another hundred meters up the beach. This barrier isolates Tauwhara Bay from Otamure Bay, keeping this beach secluded from the campground. To the left, you can stroll a good distance around the bay. After a quarter of a kilometer, there is a line of rocks breaking up the sand that extends into the ocean. Take a seat on the rocks or peek in on the tide pools. Farther up the beach, you’ll spot a house on the edge of the forest with a picnic table that appears to be for private use only.
Small waves roll up on shore, providing a pleasant soundtrack for this stroll along Tauwhara Bay. Looking out to sea, you’ll see clusters of rocky islands that add to the secluded charm. When you’re done, head back to the pohutukawa trees, which conceal the trail until you get up close, and the route back is revealed. It’s a short walk back to the start of the track, over the top once more.
Getting there: Take SH 1 to Whananaki North Road and drive west toward the coast. The signed road to Whananaki North comes 180 kilometers north of Auckland and 19 kilometers north of Whangarei. After 23 kilometers on Whananaki North Road, continue onto Rockwell Road. Pass the campground entrance at 2.4 kilometers, reach the town of Whananki North and continue 300 meters up Rockell Road. Pass a gravel road on the right at the entrance to Otamure Recreation Reserve and cross a bridge over a stream to reach the start of the Watkin Powell Track on the right.
Trailhead address: Rockell Road, Whananaki, Northland, 0181 New Zealand
Trailhead coordinates: -35.4919, 174.45937 (35° 29′ 31.84″S 174° 27′ 45″E)
|Otamure Bay Campground|
This 131-site campground in Northland, New Zealand lies between farm-covered hills and a charming beach framed by rocky points.