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Whatipu beach.
Looking south toward Whatipu.
Looking South over Karekare to the Manukau Heads.
Whatipu from the air, looking east.

Whatipu is a remote beach on the west coast of the Auckland Region in the North Island of New Zealand. As of 2012, the Whatipu area is utilized as a scientific reserve. [1] The road to it is unsealed, and beach access is poorly signposted from the end of the road. To the south of Whatipu is Manukau Harbour. To the north is Karekare. Whatipu is located at the southern end of the Waitakere Ranges. Shifting sands have substantially changed the beach since the 1940s. Over 6 square kilometres has been added to the beach since then.


Whatipu has no surf patrol, and as with all the beaches west of Auckland, swimming may not be safe due to rips. HMS Orpheus ran aground just inside the Manukau Harbour entrance south of Whatipu in 1863 with the loss of 189 lives. It was the biggest shipping disaster in New Zealand history.[2]


There are spectacular caves about 20 minutes walk from the carpark, but there is no access from the caves to the beach. In pre-European times, the caves were used as shelter by travellers. In the early 20th century, the largest cave was used for dances, but sand has since drifted into the cave and the dance floor is now covered by five metres of sand.[3] During the timber mill era, the larger caves were also a popular venue for meetings for mill workers. [4]

Historic Industry[edit]

There was a timber mill built at Whatipu in 1867 to service the kauri trade. A tramline was built to a second timber mill three kilometers north in 1870, and eventually extended up to Piha and Anawhata. The mills closed in 1886 when the kauri ran out.

Whatipu-Gibbons Track & Kura-Omanawanui Tracks[edit]

6 hours return. The track begins at the carpark at Whatipu. It leads up the hill to the right of the carpark and is clearly marked. It follows the top of the cliffs to the picturesque Pararaha Valley where it descends to the beach at Pararaha point. It then follows the beach back to Whatipu. You need to be fit because the trudge back along the beach is quite hard going on soft sand (best at low tide when you can follow firm sand at the water's edge). Don't be tempted to take shortcuts through the swamp, because it is easy to get stuck in thick vegetation and knee deep water. Paratutae Rock at the harbour entrance looks easy to climb but be warned, it is difficult and particularly dangerous to climb down.[5] The Kura-Omanawanui Tracks are the other notable walk out of Whatipu. Follows Kura Track eastwards alongside the stream through bush, then climbs steeply to Puriri Ridge and the Whatipu Road. Back via Omanawanui Track, a switchback ridge in open bush with spectacular views across the Manukau Harbour and the Whatipu valley to the west coast. Time 4 hours.[6]

Modern history and in the media[edit]

In 2005, the remains of a man who had been missing for four years were found by police at Whatipu’s Destruction Gully. It was speculated that the man was the victim of an accident during fishing on the Manukau Harbour. [7] In 2006, the location was featured on Ghost Hunt, a New Zealand paranormal television show.[8] In the 21st century, Whatipu has been used for the Wild Turkey Off-Road Half Marathon/15km. [9] The Whatipu Beach Beacon is a lighthouse of the area. [10] In 2009, a half dead turtle was found on Whatipu beach and died shortly after at Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. A man studying sea turtles claimed the ocean currents can carry turtles further south than usual and said that despite New Zealand’s temperature being too cold, he’d had around twenty reports of turtles in New Zealand waters in addition to many strandings. [11]


A number of people have reported claims of Whatipu being haunted including famous New Zealanders such as former Waitakere City mayor Bob Harvey who has referred to the area as a “coast of ghosts”. The original house of the area, Whatipu Lodge was built in 1860 by the Gibbons family, who were mill operators and were the first occupants. After the Gibbons family moved away in 1929, many other people owned the house until the lease was acquired by the Auckland Regional Council in 2002. Many people including both guests and at least one former owner have reported sightings of the ‘Pink Lady’, a translucent female spirit with a pink aura who reputedly appears, mostly during daylight hours, to women and children. In addition, photographs have been taken which suggest a paranormal phenomenon of a melting mirror.[2]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°01′48″S 174°28′48″E / 37.03000°S 174.48000°E / -37.03000; 174.48000


  1. ^ Whatipu : A beach for all seasons – Travel – NZ Herald News Retrieved January 2012]
  2. ^ a b Julie Miller; Grant Osborn (October 2005). Ghost Hunt: True New Zealand Ghost Stories. Penguin Group New Zealand, Limited. ISBN 978-0-7900-1012-0. Retrieved 15 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "Auckland Beaches". Jasons Travel Media. 
  4. ^ 7 super Auckland parks to visit this summer Retrieved January 2012
  5. ^ Day Walks of Greater Auckland, Marios Gavalas and Peter Jansson, Page 68. Reed Publishing 2003
  6. ^ Walking the Waitakere Ranges, Alison Dench & Lee-Ann Parore, p.150
  7. ^ Whatipu remains end four-year search for missing man Retrieved January 2012
  8. ^ TV.com. "Ghost Hunt (NZ): Abandoned Psychiatric Hospital". CBS Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  9. ^ Auckland - stuff.co.nz Wild Turkey Off-Road Half Marathon/15km – Auckland – stuff.co.nz Retrieved January 2012
  10. ^ Leading lights in New Zealand – Life & Style – NZ Herald News Retrieved January 2012
  11. ^ Young turtle found on Whatipu beach | Stuff.co.nz Retrieved January 2012