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Kawatiri Coastal Trail

Kawatiri Coastal Trail

Wild West Coast seascapes and local history meet on this family-friendly ride

With the rugged Tasman Sea on one side and the majestic Paparoa Range on the other, there’s lots to see along the Kawatiri Coastal Trail. From stunning coastal views and West Coast wilderness, to wildlife and wetlands. Helpful signs tell the story of significant Māori and European heritage sites along the trail.

50 km
Best time
all year round

The trail

Split into nine easy sections, riders can access the Kawatiri Coastal Trail at multiple places, ideal for families and those out for a short spin.

Starting in Westport near the Kawatiri / Buller River, the first section is a 5.5 km meander through native forest and across a long boardwalk over pristine wetland, passing significant Māori archaeological sites along the way. Around the 5 km mark, riders are met with views of the long sandy shoreline of Carters Beach, a perfect spot for a safe swim and popular with locals building driftwood bonfires after dark.

The next 7 km section follows a 500-year-old pounamu (greenstone) and gold-mining trail along the coast, until a gentle rise takes riders up to the Cape Foulwind headland. From here, it’s downhill towards Tauranga Bay on the Omau trail section — three kilometres of spectacular mountain views, including Aoraki / Mount Cook on a clear day.

Take a moment to meet the locals at Tauranga Bay, where the Cape Foulwind Walkway winds around coastal bluffs to a kekeno / New Zealand fur seal rookery (keep an eye out for baby seals splashing in the rock pools before the main lookout). Or stop for a surf with West Coast Surf in the bay’s world-class waves, beginners welcome.

The Kawatiri Coastal Trail is currently under construction and due to be completed in 2024, with nine sections planned between Westport and Charleston.

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Accommodation + Transport

The Kawatiri Coastal Trail starts in Westport, where there are a number of accommodation options. A few kilometres into the trail, the Carters Beach Top Ten Holiday Park offers motel rooms, cabins, tent sites and a playground just metres from the beach.

There are currently no shuttle operators servicing the trail so all rides are self-guided.

Check the official Kawatiri Coastal Trail website for more information and trail construction updates.