The Trail

Kawatiri Coastal Trail | Te Huarahi Takutai o Kawatiri

The Kawatiri Coastal Trail is a Grade 2, family friendly cycling and walking heritage trail and will connect the Buller District towns of Westport and Charleston.

This extraordinary West Coast adventure journeys between the mountains to the east and the coastline to the west, with views towards the majestic Paparoa Mountain Range.

Comprising of eight gentle sections, the diverse landscapes combine to create a memorable journey across 42 km.

Multiple access points, bike hire, and transport options will eventually be available and making it simple to incorporate an overnight stop or two. As a Grade 2, family-friendly cycle trail it is suitable for most ages and abilities.

Five consecutive sections of the trail are currently, open between Westport and Ōkari Lagoon Virgin Flat Rd, offering users 28km of Trail (Pūwaha, Kawau, Omau, Tauranga and Ōkari Sections)

The trail can easily be combined with other local adventure activities, and additional cycling and walking trails, including Kawatiri River Trails, Denniston Plateau Trails, West Coast Wilderness Trail, Old Ghost Road, Heaphy Track, Paparoa Track, and Reefton Trails, visitors are spoilt by all the Buller Region has to offer.

Trail Sections



Section 1
5.5 km

Westport – Carters Beach



Section 2
7 km

Carters Beach – Cape Foulwind



Section 3
3.5 km

Cape Foulwind – Tauranga Bay



Section 4
5 km

Tauranga Bay – Ōkari Lagoon



Section 5
6 km

Ōkari Lagoon – Virgin Flat Road



Section 6
5 km

Virgin Flat Road – Tōtara River

Under construction


Section 7
5.5 km

Tōtara River – Nile River



Section 8
1 km

Nile River – Charleston


Kawatiri Coastal Trail Highlights

Martins Creek

Cross the wobbly Martins Creek Suspension Bridge and explore the Shelter (Whare), called Ngahue. In the surrounding fields is an historic Māori Archaeological Site dating back to around 1350, thought to be one of the earliest and most significant New Zealand settlements.

Carters Beach

Expansive and uninterrupted views of the Tasman Sea and the extensive flat grass grounds of the domain combine to present a magnificent open landscape. The beach, playground and cafe make it an ideal place to relax before continuing on your way. Time your walk or ride to take in the incredible sunrise and sunsets along this stretch of coastline.

Cape Foulwind

Spectacular views through Williams Gully and across to the Paparoa Ranges and on a clear day Aoraki / Mount Cook. Pause for breath here and meet the locals. For an extra adventure follow the track along the coastal bluffs to the iconic Cape Foulwind lighthouse or the rookery of kekeno, the New Zealand fur seal.

Tauranga Bay

The headland is an important site for the seal colony and little blue penguins (kororā). Tauranga Bay is renown for its great surf and world class waves. Watch the local surfers as they catch the perfect ride into shore. There is nowhere better to observe the local birdlife, seals and dramatic night skies which feature along this coastline.

Ōkari River & Lagoon

Dramatic night skies feature along this coastline, with views south towards Aoraki / Mount Cook on a clear day. Fascinating history combines with spectacular scenery, diverse ecology, and rock formations providing a window into the geological past.


Elevated, expansive coastline views and the Department of Conservation Reserve makes this section feel like a special, remote part of our trail.
Waitakere – This sections’s coastline is a breeding area for the little blue penguin (kororā). This protected native species are the world’s smallest at just over 25 cm and weighing 1 kg. Cruise over the Nile River suspension bridge, the fourth bridge built on this site since 1867. Enjoy short detours to pretty beaches between here and Charleston.


During the gold rush, Charleston and the surrounding goldfield had a population of 8,000 – 12,000, and boasted 80 hotels. Today the sleepy village is rejuvenated with visitors keen to experience what life was like 150 years ago. Make the most of glorious beaches, fishing, rock climbing, cave rafting, walks and mountain biking.

Flora & Fauna

Experience the abundance of this natural, ever-changing wonderland, with its kahikatea wetland, pākihi, podocarp forest and nikau palms. The exceptional variety of wildlife including weka, kiwi, seals, penguins, and other birdlife offers outstanding close-up encounters.