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Waikato Aotea Beach fossilised ancient kauri forests, rocky reefs and scenic views

  • 2 minutes

Waikato, North Island

Discover unique orange sandstone reefs with ancient tree trunks and massive black sand dunes of Aotea beach, Waikato, North Island.

Aotea Beach is approximately 15 minutes (one way) from Kawhia town / hot springs beach. The no exit road to the small settlement of Aotea Beach is sealed although narrow and winding. The community is well signposted. For visitors wishing to spend more time in Kawhia simply continue on the route towards Kawhia settlement.


Aotea’s extraordinary orange tinted reef and rocky shores are best viewed at low tide with the backdrop of black dunes offering photographers a wealth of scenic locations for the perfect holiday shot.

  • Duration: 1 hour at low tide

There is a children’s playground, compostable toilets and small car park at the beach. There are notices throughout the region about nesting native dotterels (shorebirds) and the care needed to protect their habitat.

Aotea Beach orange hue reef rock exposed at low tide, New Zealand
Aotea Beach orange hue reef rock exposed at low tide, New Zealand

Aotea Beach Coastal Walk to harbour headlands

Aotea Coastal walk takes you around Nihinihi Point and south along the wide, black-sand beach. The small harbour is sheltered from the Tasman Ocean swells is home to the native birds, the endangered New Zealand Dotterel, and the Godwit, an amazing traveller which makes a non-stop journey of 11,000 kilometres to spend the summer on the sand banks and mudflats of the harbour. The region is saturated in Maori history with one of the early polynesian navigators Turi arriving on an ocean going waka (sailing vessel) Aotea in the Kawhia area approximately 900 years ago.

The amazing walk is beautiful, the area is remote with stunning views of the massive black sand dunes of Potoorangi beach opposite. Be aware of the tide as this is a low tide walk.


Look out for feral goats inhabiting the road verges.

Spend the balance of your day in Kawhia soaking in a temporary hot pool at Kawhia hot water beach.

For more information about Raglan beaches check out:

Kawhia hot water beach, New Zealand
Kawhia hot water beach, New Zealand

Where is Aotea Bay located

Aotea beach reserve, Kawhia

Aotea Bay is located on one of New Zealand’s ‘dangerous roads’ Whaanga gravel road. Discover 35 Things to Do in Raglan, New Zealand and enjoy a classic seaside town. There is a car park and toilets located near the car park.


Be tempted and explore the remote coastline beyond Manu Bay. Find the narrow winding unsealed gravel Whaanga Coast Road and head south. Check out what lies beyond  on a Raglan day trips to Kawhia and Aotea Harbours inland route – Best Bits.



Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


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