“A wide and well-maintained track between two campgrounds with stunning coastal views.
— Kristen McGlynn
Birding · Views
The middle section of the trail is prone to slips especially after heavy rain. Check for any closures online
prior to visiting to make sure that the track is open. The track crosses private land - please leave all gates as you found them and respect the livestock that may be grazing on the property.
A great trail run - enough elevation change to keep you entertained, but also some nice sections for cruising and taking in the views. There is water and toilets at both campgrounds so it makes for a nice out and back run.
This 6+-mile trail starts from the Stoney Bay Campground and contours along the cost to the Fletcher Bay Campground. From the day visitor car park, you'll be immediately confronted with a small water crossing. The ford is shallow (unless there has been recent rain) and it is easy enough to slip off your shoes to get across. Head toward the ranger station and through the campground to the far corner where you'll see the start of the track by a shoe cleaning station and a gate.
The first portion of the track to the first lookout is a steady climb. There is nothing too steep, and you only have few minor drainages to navigate that pose any challenge. As you climb, be sure to take a look over your shoulder back at the blue-green waters of Stoney Bay behind you.
Once you reach the spur to the first lookout (well worth the short side excursion for the views of the coast, the Pinnacles and Sugar Loaf to the north and south toward Port Charles), the trail curves to the northwest and opens up a bit more so you can enjoy some sunshine and more fabulous views of the coast. The trail here is more level and well-packed so you don’t have to worry about your footing and can enjoy the views.
There is one section where the trail narrows to an exposed singletrack with evidence of recent slips. The trail here is a bit overgrown and off camber, and as the drop isn’t insignificant, just slow down to watch your footing through this section.
The trail then descends a short, steep hill to Poley Bay. This hillside is particularly pretty as you transition from the denser underbrush to a hillside of Powhutukawa trees, their twisted forms covered in delicate green moss.
Once across the stream (which requires a bit of rock hopping), be ready for a similarly short and steep climb back up the hillside. After another short section through the bush, you'll pop out to a wide, green pasture land of steep and bare hills. Enter at the designated gate and follow the markers through what is at times an extremely muddy ATV track and at times an extremely muddy cow field. The hills here are steep, adding to the fun as you slip and slide your way down. The cows are mostly friendly, happy to either ignore you or go slip sliding down the hill away from you as you run along.
On the far side of the pasture, exit another gate and climb up a trail that is more of a deep trench in thick grass. This takes you to the top of a hill from which you can see the end of the track and the Fletcher Bay Campground. Head down the last few switchback on the other side to complete your journey.
Flora & Fauna
Nikau, rimu, totara, ferns, fern palms, tea trees. Fantails, bell birds, tuī, and other songbirds. Friendly farm cows.