Mahinepua and Radar Hill
Mahinepua is reached by a short (1 kilometre long) gravel road off Wainui Road, called Mahinepua Road, which is found 2 kilometres north of Wainui Bay. Look out for the blue signpost. Mahinepua Road ends on the beachfront and Mahinepua Reserve. There is a small camping ground to the right at this picturesque beachfront, under the guardianship of the local kaitiaki. If intending to stay overnight at the campground, a donation is very acceptable, and you will be rewarded with a magnificent site, right adjacent to this safe swimming beach, with views either out through the headlands to Cavalli Islands, or the more sheltered end of the sand spit, looking back along the beach. The campground offers only a basic toilet block with no other facilities. Running a bait net in the bay can be rewarding.
Mahinepua Peninsula Scenic Reserve
At the northern end of the beach is a sign for the Department of Conservation walking track along the Mahinepua Peninsula Scenic Reserve. Follow the markers up the farm track to the Reserve. Please keep to the track, cliffs exist in this area. The track is about 2 kilometres long and should take you about 2 hours to return (via the same route). This recently upgraded walking track takes in dramatic coastal scenery along the spine of the peninsula, climbing 2 or 3 hills to look down on clear waters filled with sea life and skirting beside several small sandy coves before reaching the trig station on the point's end.
Maori intensively settled the coastline between Whangaroa Harbour and the Bay of Islands prior to European arrival and this is reflected in the numerous archaeological sites recorded in the area. This coastline offered prehistoric Maori plentiful fishing grounds in relatively sheltered waters and small bays where canoes could be safely beached. A variety of shellfish would have been available on the sandy beaches and also along the rocky coast. Kumara (sweet potato) would have been cultivated on slopes and valleys as well as taro on the stream flats. Mahinepua peninsula has fourteen archaeological sites. The features of the different sites reflect a variety of activities, such as: gardening; pa sites (fortified villages) with terraces where huts and other structures were located; pits for storing crops; and shell refuse from past meals.
From the cliffs overlooking the ocean at Mahinepua peninsula, walkers often see pods of dolphins, whales, schools of sting rays, or other large sea creatures. Recently, a hunchback whale choose to stay close to the peninsula for several months while she nursed her newborn baby.
A loop track near the end of the peninsula offers new and different viewpoints on your return leg back to the beach at Mahinepua.
Accommodation near Mahinepua
Mahinepua Beach Campground:
Open in summer only.
No booking office or phone but enquire at the campground entrance on arrival.
Koha (donation) to local kaitiaki (guardians).
Baches & Holiday Houses:
Mahinepua Cottage on the Beach: http://cottageonthebeach.kiwiweb.net.nz/
Sandy Beach Cottage: http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/properties/3950.asp
Holiday homes for rent: http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/Mahinepua.asp
Cavalli Beach House: http://www.cavallibeachhouse.com/
Waiwurrie Coastal Farm Lodge http://www.coastalfarm-lodge.co.nz/
Radar Hill is the highest point on Wainui Road and is found midway between Wainui Bay and Tauranga Bay. It so named because it was the site of a Royal New Zealand Air Force radar station, established in 1942 to monitor air and coastal traffic as part of New Zealand's defense efforts during World War 2. The station at Radar Hill was the base for 25 air force personnel. In those days radar was a developing technology with far less range than today and the station at Radar Hill served as part of a network of 3 radar posts in the Far North, the other 2 being at Pandora, near Cape Reinga and at Waipapakauri, north of Awanui. After the battle of the Coral Sea, when the threat of Japanese invasion lessened, much of the station's duties involved guiding US and Kiwi airmen returning to New Zealand from the South Pacific theatre of war via Norfolk Island. Several aircrews (and their descendants) owe their lives to the vigilance of the operators manning this station around the clock during these years.
Of the several air force buildings once occupying this site, only the main barracks building remains and it has been converted into a large home with bed and breakfast accommodation called "The Barracks B&B".