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.

Diverse landscapes combine to create a memorable journey across 55 km. Comprising of nine gentle Sections, the Trail is manageable for riders to fully complete, at each turn revealing unrivalled and ever changing coastlines.

Multiple access points, bike hire, luggage transfers and shuttle options will eventually make logistics simple to incorporate an overnight stop or two. As a Grade 2 family friendly cycle trail it is suitable for most ages and abilities, and ultimately will offer the convenience of accommodation and eateries along the way.

The Pūwaha Section of the Kawatiri Coastal Trail from Westport to Carters Beach is the first of nine Sections to be built, and officially opened to the public on 6 December 2020, with the Trail opening in stages. Omau and Waitakere are also open, with Kawau due to open mid 2022, offering riders 15 km of Trail between Westport and Tauranga Bay. The full 55 km of Trail is due for completion mid 2023.

This magical ride can easily be combined with other activities, local rides and Great Rides for those looking to linger longer. With the Kawatiri River Trails, Deniston Plateau Trails, West Coast Wilderness Trail, Old Ghost Road, Heaphy Track, Paparoa Track, Kirwans Track, Waitahu Valley Trail and Big River, visitors are spoilt by all the Buller Region has to offer.

Trail Sections











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.