The DoC hut at Peach Cove, Whangarei Heads is very popular with families – many young children have their first ever overnight tramping experience here. We took Nate (4) recently and can understand its popularity!
The hut is easily accessible, being a 25 minute drive from Whangarei, or 2.5 hours from Auckland – totally doable in a weekend.
You can approach the hut from three tracks/entry points. From the Mt Lion track at Urqhuharts Bay (approx. three hours difficult track, definitely not recommended with small children). From Ocean Beach’s Te Whara track, at the south end of the beach (approx. 2.5 hours to the hut, with a fair amount of uphill). Or, if you have young children with you, use the Peach Cove Track (the sign says 2 hours, it only took us just over one hour with two four-year-olds in tow).
There is a small carpark for the Peach Cove track off Ocean Beach Rd. It’s well sign posted – if you arrive at the beach, you’ve gone too far!
The first part of the track winds uphill through a dusty grove of Manuka, with a few steps. Gradually you enter denser bush as you approach the ridge line. Here the well formed gravel track undulates along with great sea views through the leaves.
Keep an eye out for the turn off coming up on your left, which has a sign. Here you begin your descent down to the hut on a long series of steps which are very steep in places. Just get the kids to take their time so nobody trips!
The ocean views are spectacular, and the bush seems pre-historic, with huge puriri and ancient pohutukawa dripping with epiphytes.
After 20 minutes or so you’ll emerge to see a simply ENORMOUS boulder with a pohutukawa gripping it from above. Vines are all around, and little piwakawaka (fantails) flit about. And there, ahead and a little to the left, is a cute wee hut complete with deck and outdoor furniture. Home sweet home!
You’ll need to take your own cooking facilities. There are a few odds and ends like pots and utensils, but I still recommend you take your own – you never know what will be there. There is a rain water tank, but you cannot guarantee it will be full! Take plenty of water. There is a separate composting toilet for which you’ll need your own toilet paper.
There are two tracks to two beaches, one on each side of the hut. The closest beach, Peach Cove itself, is only 5 minutes and has plenty of sand at mid-low tide. At high tide, the water comes right up to the boulders. Such a lovely spot for a dip! The water is clear and refreshing.
The other beach is accessed via a track behind the toilet, and is about 10 minutes away. It is rocky and would be great for snorkelling if there’s no swell. We had a great time clambering between the beaches on the boulders, which took about 40 minutes with little ones.
The hut is not heated, so take warm clothing. Head torches are a good idea if you need to find the toilet in the dark!
There are kiwi living in the surrounds of the hut, and there is a lot of predator control via traps, chew cards etc. If you see any of these, explain what they are to the kids and make sure they keep their distance.
Once darkness approaches, keep an ear out for the distinctive screeching call of the kiwi. We heard them in the distance all night! Autumn is mating season, so they are particularly vocal at this time as they’re seeking a partner. There were also a lot of hooting moreporks.
It is a long way back up those steps for small legs. Bribery may be helpful 😉
It was such a fantastic experience – we can’t wait to go back.
You will need to book well in advance, especially for Saturday nights. There are 8 bunks which cost $15 each – pre-schoolers are free. You can book beds in the hut here.
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