Te Ara Moana means ‘the sea-going pathway’. It is a self-guided five day sea kayak tour along approximately 51km of Auckland’s picturesque south eastern coastline connecting five of Auckland’s charming Regional Parks. For a detailed brochure click here.
Te Ara Moana is one of many routes traditionally paddled by Mãori to travel between settlements, carry goods for trade and gathering food. To this day the Iwi of Tamaki Makaurau maintain strong ties with the Hauraki Gulf, Tikapa Moana (Firth of Thames) and Te Ara Moana.
The trail captures enchanting nature and history with a mix of marine and terrestrial locations giving you a sense of adventure and introduces you to the joys of sea kayaking and overnight camping.
This waka (canoe or kayak) trail is already well used by many paddlers, so these notes and the map overleaf are a guide, suggesting paddling times and recommending campgrounds on regional parks.
Please read through the safety information, book your campsite and plan your journey before you set out and don’t forget to tell someone your plans.
Omana to Waharau, our way to go
We recommend setting off from Omana Regional Park in Maraetai and heading south, over five days. Park your vehicle at Omana and make sure it is locked, taking all your valuables with you. Drop a note into the box at the rangers office if you are leaving your car at the park.
If you would like to do the trail in reverse, that's ok too, just make sure you check the tides. There are parking facilities at Waharau Regional Park or a drop off area across the road on the seaward side on Kawera Avenue.
Look out for the brightly coloured orange and blue posts, near the shore marking campgrounds along the way.
Practice makes perfect
If you are not very experienced or a bit cautious, you may like to do parts of the trail first as training for the whole journey. Always paddle with a companion or group. Click here to access the Coastguard kayaking safety module.
Improve your skills or refresh by undertaking a Coastguard boating education course. For further information please click here.
Omana Regional Park to Duder Regional Park
Start your journey at Omana Regional Park. The name Omana comes from O-Manawatere, a pa site in the park. Manawatere was a Ngai Tai ancestor who travelled from the homeland by gliding over the waves on a taniwha. Something to think about as you set out on your journey.
Before you leave Omana, you can picnic at the park, meet the friendly farm animals, visit the playground which depicts the stories of those Maori ancestors or explore the rocky shore which is home to many birds and sea life. Before you begin your journey to the first stop on the trail, you can stay overnight at the Clifftop Campground. For a map of day one of the trail and Clifftop Campground layout click here.
Once you have reached Duder Regional Park, and secured your kayak, take a walk up onto the pohutukawa fringed Whakakaiwhara Peninsula and marvel at breathtaking 360 degree views over the Hauraki Gulf. Duder Regional Park is named after Thomas Duder whose family farmed here for 130 years. Still a busy farm, you can read more about Duder’s farming history along the park’s trails.
While travelling up New Zealand’s east coast from Hawaiiki, the Tainui canoe moored here and its people ate fruit from the forest. This is the origin of the name Whakakaiwhara, which means to eat (kai) the edible bracts (whara) of the kiekie vine.
Your destination at Duder, Te Wharau (Malua Bay) Campground is located on the eastern side of the Whakakaiwhara Peninsula, a secluded part of Duder Regional Park. The campground is an archaeological site so please ‘camp lightly’. Water and a toilet are just above the campground, at the top of the steps. Please use the concrete pad for any heating or cooking of food to minimise any fire danger, and please note there is no shelter at Duder. For a map of the trail and Te Wharau (Malua Bay) Campground layout click here.
Duder Regional Park to Waitawa Regional Park
A long 14km paddle is ahead of you as you leave Duder and head along to the sea-going pathway of Te Ara Moana to Waitawa Regional Park. Located upon a traditional boundary line between Te Urikaraka (Ngati Paoa) and Ngati Kohua (Ngai Tai – Te Waiohua), this parkland holds deep significance for local Maori.
The area has a long and rich history of human occupation which is reflected in the numerous archaeological sites recorded on the parkland and in the wider area. Over the next few years, Waitawa Regional Park will be developed as a recreational park, where visitors can walk, camp, mountain bike and horse ride.
The Waitawa Bay Campground is located just past the Koherurahi Point wharf and boat ramp, accessed via a small shingle beach. Here you will find a small shelter, water supply and toilets. For a map of the trail and Waitawa Bay Campground layout click here.
Waitawa Bay Regional Park to Tawhitokino Regional Park
Te Ara Moana, the sea-going pathway, will take you today past Te Iwirahirahi Point, Ruakura Bay, Waiti Bay until finally to your destionation, the white sands of Tawhitokino Beach. Welcome to Tawhitokino Regional Park.
It’s a 30 minute, tide dependent, walk back to Waiti Bay from here – making it a very tranquil escape. Two small streams feed into Tawhitokino Beach, cutting into the bush-clad escarpment behind the beach and forming a small wetland.
When camping at Tawhitokino Campground you may be lucky enough to see one of New Zealand’s rarest flightless birds, the North Island weka. The size of a large hen, these birds call to each other at dusk – so you’ll almost definitely hear them. For a map of the trail and Tawhitokino Campground layout click here.
This park and campground is accessible only by foot or boat and is a chance to relax under the shade of pohutukawa on a beautiful white sandy beach. Your campground is located at the south eastern end of the magnificent beach nestled in amongst a pohutukawa grove. The campground has toilets, a water supply and a simple shelter for cooking only.
Tawhitokino Regional Park to Tapapakanga Regional Park
Te Ara Moana, the sea-going pathway, today meanders into the Firth of Thames, showing off Orere Point and more of the majestic pohutukawa trees that this coast is known for, before arriving at Tapapakanga Regional Park. As well as its rich Maori and European history this beautiful park offers rolling farmland, a winding stream and expansive coastal views. Famous for the lands ability to produce kai (food) for the many hapu (families) who lived in the vicinity, Tapapakanga Regional Park was also known as a place where waka taua (war canoes) were completed.
Take a wander to the Ashby Homestead and get a glimpse of what this coast might have been like more than a century ago, when it was built.
Here you can stay at either, the remote Waikaha Stream Campground (accessible by kayak only) or the popular Beachfront Campground near the park hub (Ashby Beach). For a map of the trail and Waikaha Stream Campground layout click here.
Tapapakanga Regional Park to Waharau Regional Park
Today's last section of the trail is a shorter 8km paddle that completes your journey. Upon reaching Waharau Regional Park, you have followed the paddle strokes of generations of Maori and many recreational kayakers on Te Ara Moana, the sea-going pathway. Waharau Regional Park extends from the gravelly shore of the Firth of Thames (Tikapa Moana) into the eastern foothills of the Hunua Ranges.
The Maori name Waharau means ‘the ever changing stream mouth’ and refers to the stream that winds its way down from the eastern Hunua Ranges and flows into the Firth of Thames.
The coast meets the forest at Waharau and there are tracks or linkages with the Hunua Ranges, through the area’s foothills.
You can stay overnight at Tainui Campground, where access requires a portage across the road, approximately 470m at high tide, and a little further to Blackberry Flats Campground. For a map of the trail and Tainui Campground layout click here.
Te Ara Moana code
Tread lightly. Protect native flora and fauna.
Keep to tracks where they exist.
Keep gear clean to prevent the spread of weeds and animal pests.
Do not damage vegetation when tying up boats.
Avoid the nesting areas of endangered New Zealand dotterels along the shoreline.
Use gates, not fences, and leave gates as you find them. Only drive vehicles on designated roads.
Take all rubbish with you. Carry bags for storing your rubbish and pick up any you find.
Conserve waterways by not polluting them with soap, detergents or food scraps.
Use toilets provided.
Always seek permission to access private land.
Only use portable fuel stoves for cooking.
Open fires are prohibited.
Kayak safety code
You are responsible for the safety of your kayak and for complying with all the rules.
Wear a correct size lifejacket at all times.
Take at least two waterproof methods of communication and always put your cell phone in a watertight bag.
Get a marine weather forecast and check tides before you go.
The weather can change quickly at sea.
Avoid alcohol. Safe kayaking and alcohol do not mix.
Take a boating education course, the more you know the better your boating.
Check the kayak and drain plug before you leave and don’t overload.
Check you have the correct clothing and safety equipment – be prepared for the unexpected.
If you capsize – stay with your kayak and hold onto your paddle.
Watch where you are going and make sure others can see you – see and be seen. Source: www.coastguard.co.nz
Who knows you’re here?
Tell someone your plans. Use the Coastguard’s ‘2 Minute Form’ to keep people informed.
In an emergency
In an emergency dial 111 and ask for police.
To contact a park ranger phone 09 301 0101.
Metservice recreational marine forecast www.metservice.co.nz or 0900 999 99 (call rates apply).
Maritime distress. Repeat “Mayday, mayday, mayday,” followed by your vessel description and location, until you get a response.
Continuous weather for inner Gulf and Waitemata Harbour.
Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf Coastguard radio.
Te Ara Moana trail map.
Check marine weather forecast and tides.
Check kayak, drain plug and equipment (don’t overload).
Lifejacket – wear this at all times.
Camping gear, food and correct clothing.
Two forms of communication (cell phone/radio) in a water-tight bag.
Tell someone your plans and when you’re due back.
Check kayak and equipment for plant and animal pests.
You don’t need to book the trail, but you do need to book your regional park campgrounds in advance.
For information on "how to book" click here. See our website for campground information and directions.