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Kaiaua - The Best Little One Day Stay On The Trail

Officially starting opposite ‘The Pink Shop’ in the seaside village of Kaiaua, the Hauraki Rail Trail winds around the edge of the shallow Firth of Thames, over chenier shell banks and through Ramsar wetlands of international importance before reaching Kopu. The picturesque seaside town boasts a stunning coastline, beautiful parks, a Pirate Ship playground, local monthly market, and expansive views of the Firth and the dramatic Coromandel Ranges. 



Spend some time at the Pūkorokoro–Miranda Shorebird Centre where you can learn about the area’s precious birdlife and incredible feats of the Godwits annual migration. At the Centre, you’ll find information, birding tips, environmental education, accommodation and the most comprehensive natural history bookshop in New Zealand. The varied selection of postcards, magnets, and tea towels make great souvenirs or gifts to take home to friends and family.


Photo: Pūkorokoro–Miranda Shorebird Centre bookshop and souvenirs


Stretch your legs with a walk to one of the nearby bird hides to see the amazing aviators up close. Remember your bike lock, as you can't bike right up to the hides. Take your camera to capture the expansive wetlands and shorebirds. The best time to view the birds is within two hours either side of the high tide, as once the tide drops, the birds go far out on the mudflats to feed.


Photo credit: Outdoor Kid - Pūkorokoro–Miranda Bird Hide


A visit to the Miranda Farm Shop, Café and Gallery is a Must Do. While 2kms from the Trail, it’s a great place to stop for delicious coffee and healthy savoury and sweet food options. The adjacent art gallery is the first off grid gallery in New Zealand and has regular exhibitions of New Zealand print makers, painters, ceramicists and sculptors. A large group exhibition is curated every summer, with different solo artist shows throughout the year. For other great food options head to Kaiaua Fisheries, The Pink Shop or the Bay View Hotel.


Photo: Miranda Farm Shop - Gallery


If you're looking to overnight, the family friendly Miranda Holiday Park offers a choice of first-class self-catering accommodation to suit all budgets and needs. Set in beautifully landscaped gardens, the Park is an oasis with a hot mineral pool on-site and offers a great getaway for the whole family, including the dog!


Photo: Miranda Holiday Park


Offering unspoilt ocean views, the ever-popular Rays Rest Reserve is 4kms south of the Kaiaua township and is right on the beach overlooking the Firth of Thames. There are picnic tables for use here and to encourage you to slow down, stop, and enjoy the view. Camping is restricted to self-contained vehicles holding and displaying current certification, and visitors may stay for up to two nights, although power is not available. The area is spacious and allocation is on a first come, first served basis, and it's a great base from which to explore.

Freedom camping is prohibited on the southern and northern part of the Reserve, including the beach. Standard freedom camping rules apply, so be sure to take your rubbish with you, dispose of grey water in designated dumpstations, and obey any signage. You can find all of the Motorhome Camping options for Section A here



Kaiaua and its surrounds offers plenty of accommodation options, with the delightful Sea Urchin Cottage located right on the waterfront in Kaiaua with a fun children's playground opposite. The characterful three bedroom cottage caters for 8 guests, comprising of two large double rooms and 4 bunk beds. Further south and nestled in the countryside, the Miranda Homestead B&B offers the perfect getaway. Each room has a private bathroom and there is a shared lounge where guests can relax. 

Located in Miranda with its own private hot tub, Miranda Sea View Apartment is a secluded farmstay offering self catering accommodation, free WIFI, private courtyard, on-site parking, and towels and linen are provided. Soak up the spectacular night skies and sunsets reflecting off the Coromandel peninsula, with the lights of Thames reflecting in the evening seaviews. Alternatively the Bay View Hotel is a great option for visitors looking to enjoy great pub food on-site along with excellent local hospitality.


Photo: View from Sea Urchin Cottage 


Whether you're visiting for the day, or spending the night, bike hire is available from Shorebird Cycles. With plenty of local knowledge on hand to guide visitors, you'll find everything you need to discover Kaiaua and experience the fabulous Shorebird Coast.

If time permits explore further with a visit to the Mangatangi Dam. Just a 12-minute drive from Kaiaua you’ll find rainbow trout fishing and hiking. North of Kaiaua there’s a selection of hiking tracks at Whakatiwai Regional Park and Waharau Regional Park. Keep an eye out for the “Hinau” (c.1941) boat wreck, an ex NZ Minesweeper which can be seen from the East Coast Road just north of the township. The shipwreck makes up part of the sea wall where the mussel barge comes in at the Guy Goss boat club in Kaiaua.


Photo credit: @peteplymouth on Instagram


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