Distance: 16.5km One Way
Time: Overnight

The Cape Brett Track is my favourite overnight hike. It was the first solo overnight hike that I did and was a key part of my growing passion for hiking, travel, and the outdoors.

The track is in the Northland Region of New Zealand and runs from Rawhiti out to Cape Brett, near Russell and the Bay of Islands, You can either park on the small gravel carpark just up from the start of the track or pay for secure parking at the Kaingahoa Marae (243 Rawhiti Road),or at 253 Rawhiti Road.

Start next to the Oke Bay Lodge and head up the stairs to join the track. The first few kms are difficult as they ascend to the ridge and first lookout at 345 metres above sea level. You will be walking through bush before emerging into a clearing overlooking the coast and surrounding islands.

Cape Brett

From here the track descends down to the junction with the Whangamumu Track and the predator proof fence. This fence was built in 1995 to reduce the possum population on the cape. Ensure the gate is closed behind you.

After the fence the track undulates up and down the ridge, steeply in some sections, for a few kms before coming to a small hut with beautiful views over the coast and bush. Keep an eye out for playing dolphins in the water below.

After the hut the track continues along the ridge before a junction with a side track leading down to Deep Water Cove. On a sunny day this cove provides a nice place for a rest and swim before the hardest part of the track up and over the ridge to the lighthouse and hut.

After this junction the track gets steeper and more exposed as you come out from under the tree cover. Make your way along the cape to the lighthouse and then down the hill to Cape Brett Hut.

Cape Brett Hut is a serviced hut with beautiful coastal views. It has 23 beds and must be booked online. There is also a small fee for travelling on private land between Rawhiti and Deep Water Cove that can be paid online before you start the walk.

If you want to make the walk a bit shorter, either on the way there or on the way back, there are daily water taxis to and from Deep Water Cove.

Having never done an overnight hike before, I found this one to be a great one for beginners. It is well marked, the track is well maintained, and you couldn’t ask for more beautiful scenery. The sunsets are worth getting your camera out for and when the sunrise hits the lighthouse it casts a beautiful golden light over its surrounds, almost as if it the light was coming from within the lighthouse.

Watching the sunset with a group of strangers after hiking 16km was a new experience for me, and had the impact of me wanting to do it again. Since this hike, I have gone on to do many more just like it, and defining my ‘happy place’ as being in the bush somewhere.