Cape Brett and Whangamumu area
Located in the Northland region
IntroductionCome for a walk and view one of New Zealand's Landmarks / Whenua Tohunga, the historic lighthouse at Cape Brett, or visit the historic Whangamumu Whaling Station. Enjoy outstanding views of the outer Bay of Islands, north to the Cavalli Islands and south to Whangaruru and beyond to the Poor Knights Islands.
Guiding light: The light at the end of Cape Brett/Rakaumangamanga has guided and protected visitors to New Zealand for hundreds of years.
The light reflecting off the crystalline rocks once helped guide the earliest waka to a safe landfall in this new homeland. For the last 100 years the Cape Brett lighthouse has lit and protected the coast for all seafarers.
Find things to do and places to stay Cape Brett and Whangamumu area
You can land at Cape Brett or Deep Water Cove by boat. Deep Water Cove is a designated rest area for dolphins. There are restrictions in the Bay of Islands for boating.
You can snorkel at Deep Water Cove. Help protect marine wildlife in the Bay of Islands by following the diving and snorkelling restrictions.
Cape Brett is 30 km north east of Russell. You can get to Cape Brett and Whangamumu via Rawhiti Road.
Access by land
From Russell, take the Russell-Whakapara Road for 13.8 km and turning off at Kempthorne Road. Follow the road through Parekura Bay, continuing on to Manawaora Road. At the top of the road, turn left onto Rawhiti Road.
From Whangarei travel north turning off SH1 at Whakapara. Follow the Russell Road until you get to Rawhiti Road.
Access by boat
To access Cape Brett Reserve by sea, land at either Deep Water Cove or at Cape Brett. A water taxi is available from Russell and Paihia.
You may need to go through Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands) Marine Mammal Sanctuary. Before you go check the restrictions for this marine mammal sanctuary.
- No dogs
- No camping
- No fires
Protect our kauri
Stay on the tracks in the Cape Brett and Whangamumu area at all times, and clean your footwear using hygiene stations if available. This reduces the chance of spreading kauri disease.
In 1984 most of the Cape Brett Reserve was given over to the Department of Lands and Survey, with DOC taking over administration of the area three years later. In 1991, DOC purchased a large block of land between Cape Brett and Deep Water Cove and after consultation with local iwi, renamed the reserve ‘Manawahuna’.
Cape Brett features native and regenerating bush. From the forested ridges, you can take in spectacular coastal scenery.
Towards the Cape, the dramatic cliff-face provides you with a birds-eye view of abundant fish and bird life below - often dolphins and seals will come close to shore.
Along the track, you will come across an electric fence crossing the width of the peninsula. This was constructed in 1995 to reduce the impact of possums on the coastal bush. Cape Brett peninsula was once known for its magnificent blaze of crimson pohutukawa flowers in summer, however, many of these trees were reduced to grey skeletons through possum browsing. It is hoped that this fence will allow the trees to flourish once again. Ensure the gate is closed.
Whangamumu Harbour acted as a base for a shore whaling station in the 1800s and early 1900s. Whangamumu Whaling Station was the only one in the world that caught whales with nets, and was Northland’s longest running and most successful station.
The headland at Cape Brett / Rakaumangamanga has kept travellers safe for hundreds of years. For Māori first arriving in Aotearoa, the dawn light reflecting off the sheer cliffs of Rakaumangamanga helped guide their waka to a safe landfall. Since 1910, the Cape Brett lighthouse has lit and protected the coast for all seafarers.