We’d driven along Maraetai Coast Road south of Auckland (the start of New Zealand’s own Pacific Coast Highway) several times and never really noticed the turnoff to Duder Regional Park. Turns out we’d been missing a really scenic little walk to the remains of an old Pa site (fortified Māori settlement) at the end of Whakakaiwhara Point which juts out into the Tamaki Strait as if reaching out to nearby Ponui Island.
The peninsula has a rich history dating all the way back to the 1300s and is still a working farm so if you do visit, you’ll share your experience with the local cows and sheep as you make your way through the paddocks. Although much of the peninsula was cleared for farming, there are still a few pockets of the original forest (including precious Kauri trees) which you can explore and will offer some respite from the sun on hot summer days.
The main walk in the park is an easy 4.3km loop that takes you up to a trig beacon and most of the way along the peninsula before heading back to the carpark, but you really do want to take the time (another hour or so return) to walk out to the end of the peninsula. With steep sides, 360 degree views of the surrounding area and a narrow ridgetop path to get there, you will see why this was an ideal Pā site (Māori defensive settlement). On the day that we walked, there was a blustery southwester which made things a little interesting as the peninsula narrowed with relatively steepish slopes down to the sea on either side. Fortunately, just beyond the flat section of the Pā are a few sheltered spots, perfect for a relaxing picnic as you look out towards Waiheke and Ponui (Chamberlins) Islands.
As we walked, we couldn’t help but notice the interesting looking shoreline around the peninsula. There is in fact a short coastal route that’s accessible from Umupuia Beach at low tide which continues on to a white sandy bay (called, rather unsurprisingly, Sandy Bay/Waiapu) before joining the main farm track loop just past the trig beacon. However, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, and this will be the plan for our next visit, it looks like you can actually walk along the beach and rocks around the entire peninsula – a good opportunity to break out the water shoes for a spot of gentle coasteering.
Looking for more ideas on things to do and places to see when visiting the Auckland region? Have a look at our guide, Top things to do in Auckland.