The Whangamumu walking track is steeped in history leading you to an old Whaling Station. The only Whaling Station in the World to catch Whales with nets, before they upgraded to a steam-powered boat with a harpoon fitted to it, thus substantially increasing the Whale catch rate. It was Northlands longest running and most successful station. Thankfully, it is now only the remains of the factory, so the once horrid site of a fly-infested blubbery hell hole is now a gorgeous bay to be enjoyed by any visiting land or marine Mammal.
You can access the station by private boat or drive to the Whangamumu walking Track on Rawhiti Road. From Whangarei, it is a 1 hrs drive starting on Russell Road, then follow the signs to Rawhiti. The walking signs and parking on private land will be on your right. Bring cash if you choose to use the safer car parking options. If you are coming from Paihia, catch the car ferry from Opua-Okiato, and follow the signs to Rawhiti. Allow 30 mins from Okiato/Russell.
What you need to know
The Whangamumu walking track is an achievable walk with a young family in my opinion, (not super easy but with a bit of perseverance, doable). Preferably when the track is dry. Ensure you have enough daylight to just go at your own pace, and know you will be going in an upward direction, for…quite some time. All whilst maybe carrying any young pre-schoolers for a bit. This is not a pram friendly track. Best time to walk the track? I recommend either early or mid morning especially in the peak of summer, before the heat ramps up. Take enough water for everyone with you. Also take snacks or a packed lunch as there are no shops here.
- The track was wet. I’m not sure if the track was just super washed out from recent rain, or if it always looks like that in some parts, either way, maybe avoid that track after a recent rain! Unless you have some super grippy shoes, and you are OK with the odd mudslide here and there. Also, the gradient is quite steep, so if you have cranky knees, that is something to consider for the downhill walks.
- It is winter. So not a lot of time before dark to attempt this kind of track in the late afternoon.
This Whangamumu walking track takes you about 1 hr 15 (according to the sign), to an old Whaling Station.
I was really impressed that there are toilets at the start of this track and that they are well maintained.
On the track
The time was 4.30 pm. We had packed a torch as we knew we weren’t going to make it all the way and back before dark. So with 2 kids in tow, we hurried along the track.
To start with the track is nice and grassy, a little mushy due to the recent rain.
Cross a little bridge over a small creek and the track leads you through an aisle of Manuka either side of you. The floor laden with white Manuka flowers.
The mostly clay track starts off quite level with some gravel stamped into it before the steep climb begins. We pull out the songs, and ways to make the kids giggle as little complaints started to come in, “The ants go farting two by two, hurrah, hurrah…” distraction is always key for stretching attention spans.
Before you know it… Mstr 3 falls asleep on Dad’s back.
We look up…and we see the track turns into this.
Whoops! Not so great to climb with a pre-schooler asleep on your back.
40 mins into the track
Normal people would turn around and go home. We are not normal. With both our stubbornness combined, and having known that a few of my other friends had done this track with children too, we powered on up this goat track. We came under the cover of bush, and the track got a bit more level again. However still on an incline. Contemplating if we go any further, as we had been going about 40 mins. We could hear the ocean, and we were so sure the top would be close.
5 mins more and we came across a sign, pointing to Whangamumu Straight ahead, or Cape Brett Left (a slightly longer route to Cape Brett than from Oke Bay the main starting point for that walk)
We knew we weren’t going to make it all the way down to the Whaling Station, but if we could just get to a lookout we would be happy.
Another 5 mins walk in the Whangamumu direction, we arrived at the lookout! YAY! We high fived to congratulate each other, the kids cheered, and Mstr 3 asks for his treat. With him being asleep most of the way, we are not really sure what constituted him to thinking he could have a treat…but anyway. Sliced apples all round!
Calling it quits
A beautiful view congratulated us at the lookout point. The moon was up, and the sky had a soft glow. The water looked so idyllic. Taking photo snaps, and feeling very pleased with ourselves, we thought, we really needed to head back. I will let you know once we have walked the second part of this track.
On the way down was a little trickier, pretty slippery, and surprisingly, everyone except myself slipped over. Sillyness set in, and I said to the kids,
“Man I’m so glad you guys like going for walks”, to which Mstr 5 replied, “We don’t Mum, you make us go on walks”.
Before long, and with a bit of careful navigation, we were at the bottom and on easy ground again. The torch had been useful on the way back, but now the full moon was a light to our feet. We all went home with that accomplished feeling, adding to an already messy house, and beginning to make Mstr 3’s request for dinner, a good old Kiwi fave, Mince on Toast.
What we learnt…
I think my growing interest in walking, is that, like a box of chocolates, you never quite know what you are going to get.
There is an element of surprise, and moments of choosing to persevere, but also knowing when you have reached your limits. Especially on a family walk. If you have to stop and try again another day, for even just one person’s sake, so what? Although my competitive side, always just wants to get to the end, that shouldn’t always be the main focus point.
Perserverance is key. But so is knowing when its time to turn around.
Until next time, we will try again in the dryer season and let you know how we go.
Over and out.
For more detailed info on this track, you can find it here.