Date: 31 October 2012
Upgrade work on the Bream Head/Te Whara Track has begun. This means that the section from Bream Head to Smugglers Bay will be closed until mid to late December. The upgrade aims to maintain a balance between archaeological and wilderness values along the route whilst addressing track safety and accessibility.
A blessing was held at the Urquharts Bay entrance with representatives from Ngātiwai, the Department of Conservation, contractors, and Bream Head Conservation Trust. A kohatu or entrance stone with inscription sets the scene for all visitors:
"Ka kuhumai koe ki runga o nga tapuwae o Manaia me ana uri whakatupuranga / You are about to follow the sacred footprints of Manaia and all of his descendants."
Blessing of the track with DOC, contractors, Ngatiwai, and Bream Head Conservation Trust. View larger (JPG, 203K)
The Bream Head Scenic Reserve area was once intensively settled by Maori and there is evidence of defended pa sites and undefended kainga/villages. Walkers can look out for terraces, banks, ditches, middens and storage pits right through from Urquharts Bay to Matariki/Mt Lion, Te Whara/Bream Head and Ocean Beach.
The Reserve is the largest area of coastal pohutukawa-broadleaf forest remaining in Northland and host to rare plants, native snails, visiting kaka from Marotere/Hen and Chicken Islands, and has a breeding kiwi community.
Bream Head Conservation Trust works to restore and maintain the values of the area and welcomes volunteers. The Trust undertakes trapping which protects the kiwi chicks. Wandering dogs remain an ever present threat to adult kiwi and even on the shore line uncontrolled dogs and Bream Head are a tough mix.
A soon to be safer track, together with the new toilet facilities at Urquharts car park (with a grass roof in keeping with the landscape), mean a wider range of community will be able to enjoy summit panoramic views, a Peach Cove hut rustic overnight stay, or a pushchair day trip from Urquharts through to Smugglers Bay.
View of Bream Head Track with Taranga/Hen Island in the background
The Bream Head/Te Whara track takes 5 hours, over a distance of 7.5 km, following an ancient Maori trail. Accessible via the track is a WWII harbour entrance gun emplacement and associated radar station on top of Bream Head ridge. Overall, a reasonable fitness is required on these tracks with steep sections leading to Mt Lion, Ocean Beach, and Peach Cove. For a gentler walk stick to Smugglers and put Bream Head on your must do list this summer.