Cape Brett track Tony Lighthouse
You will have heard of New Zealand’s Great Walks, nine in total, often touted and worthy of the Great Walks status no doubt. However, you may not of heard of the Cape Brett Track, and whilst not part of this elite club it does share some of their traits. Stunning costal scenery, overnight option, native bush, freshwater streams, beaches, crystal clear water and more.

From the bushclad ridges, you’ll view spectacular vistas right across the Bay of Islands. Nearing the Cape, walking alongside the dramatic cliff-face, you can see abundant fish and bird life below – sometimes dolphins and seals will come close to shore. From Deep Water Cove onwards, the track gets more challenging and becomes quite exposed with steep drop-offs to the sea below. Although it is not that far to the lighthouse, it will take you about 2-3 hours, and can be quite tiring. The effort is rewarded with outstanding views of the outer Bay of Islands, north to the Cavalli Islands and south to Whangaruru and beyond to the Poor Knights Islands.

Cape Brett Lighthouse sunset
Getting there
The start of the Cape Brett Track is located near the small town of Rawhiti which is around a 35 min (30km – 18.6mi) drive from the historic Bay of Islands town, Russell. There are several options for walking the Cape Brett track that you’ll need to consider. Are you going just for the day? Do you have your own vehicle? Do you want to overnight? Do you want to overnight and walk there and back? Below we’ve highlighted the main options for you to consider dependent on your schedule, level of fitness and overall interest.

If you are intending to just do a day walk you have a couple of options here. You can self drive to the start of the track at Oke Bay and walk to the Cape Brett lighthouse, then turn around and walk back to Deep water Cove for a water taxi return to Russell or Paihia. This is the longest option at around (20.8km – 12.9mi) and at the limits of a day walk factoring in transportation and daylight hours. Alternatively you can catch a water taxi from Russell or Paihia to Deepwater cove, walk to the the Cape Brett light house, returning to Deep Water Cove for a water taxi home. These options and more are highlighted below.

Oke Bay
2 day overnight option: (full track both ways)
This is the least complicated and most inexpensive option but you will need two days to complete. Driving to Rawhiti and beginning your walk from Oke to the Cape Brett light house and staying the night. In the morning walk back to your car. Total distance is (16.3km – 10.1mi) each way. As no water taxis are involved less consideration needs to be given to the weather other than for general safety. You’ll need to pre book the hut also.

2 day over night shorter option:
As above self drive to Rawhiti (or water taxi from Russell/Paihia) and commence the walk to the lighthouse staying the night. Get up early in the morning and walk back to deep water Cove for a water taxi pick up and drop off back at your car. Total distance is (20.8km – 12.9mi).

1 day options:
All of these options involve a water taxi and you can commence from either Oke Bay or Russell/Paihia dependent on your accommodation plans.

Drive one way water taxi the other:
For the very fit:
  You’ll need to self drive to Oke bay and commence walking to the lighthouse and then return to Deep water Cove for a pick up. At (20.8km – 12.9mi) in one day this is a big ask and you’ll need to leave very early and be able to maintain a relatively fast pace throughout. Of course you can substitute the drive for an early morning transfer but you may run out of time for this option.

1 day Shorter option: This is the preferred option for most doing a single day. in the morning take a water taxi from Oke Bay or Russell/Paihia out to Deep Water Cove. Begin walking to the lighthouse, have lunch and return back to Deep Water Cove a for a water taxi back to your pick up point. This takes in the best part of the track and although not overly long (approx. 9km – 5.6mi)  it’s a tough walk with steep uphills both ways.

If you would like to walk it guided we have access to guides, so please enquire.

Cape Brett Track top first hill
Cape Brett Track at a glance:

Distance: One way 16.3km – 10.1mi 
 Deep Water Cove to Deep Water Cove via Cape Brett lighthouse return (approx. 9km – 5.6mi)
 Oke Bay to lighthouse then back to Deep Water cove (approx. 20.8km – 12.9mi)
Start point: Oke Bay near Rawhiti
Grade: Department of Conservation rate this as an advance tramping track
Further information: Department of Conservation Cape Brett Track

All hikers must now pay a track maintenance fee for crossing private land between Rawhiti and Deep Water Cove:
• Adult: $40pp
• Child: $20pp
Track and hut fees can be paid at the Bay of Islands Isite, in Paihia.

The number of walks in Northland of this calibre are limited so make this a must do when you visit the Bay of Islands. Images taken by Tony whilst walking the track.

Cape Brett topo
Luxury Adventures – Tailoring luxury travel in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific Islands since 1999.

Editors note: This blog was originally published in June 2017, and has been updated for accuracy, and currency.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Bennett

    Hello, We are a fit and active family (two parents in their 50’s and 18-year-old twins) who would like to do the single day hiking option to Cape Brett in January. We are renting a home in Te Wahapu for four nights and would be available to do this on January 9, 10 or 11. We prefer to be dropped off and picked up at Deep Water Cove. Can you provide us additional information?

    1. Tony Townley

      Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for your enquiry. Thats a great time to go and Deep Water Cover return takes in the best part of the track. I will send you an email with further details.
      Regards, Tony

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