Pohutukawa Coast


The Pohutukawa Coast is east Auckland’s playground. Swimming, kayaking, sailing, cycling, mountain biking in the forest, golf and a wonderful coastal walk/cycleway make it a popular weekend destination. It’s also the first stop for tourists on the Pacific Coast Highway that traverses the east coast of the North Island.

The Pohutukawa Coast is 20 minutes east of Howick, starting at the small village of Whitford and taking in the twin townships of Beachlands and Maraetai, before concluding at Umupuia (Duders Beach) where the takes a sharp turn and heads inland to Clevedon.

The coast is named for the gnarly native pohutukawa trees that are spread along the clifftops and foreshores of the coastline. The trees produce a magnificent red flower for about three weeks over the Christmas period.


Whitford is a small, busy village that acts as gateway to the Coast. The village is a service centre for the surrounding farms and life-style properties. It includes excellent cafes, restaurant and bar, and gift/antique shops. The Whitford Country Club is a picturesque 18 hole golf course where visitors are very welcome.

Ayrlies is one of New Zealand’s best known gardens. Sweeping lawns and informal but detailed plantings by ponds and waterways has seen The New Zealand Gardens Trust rank Ayrlies as a “Garden of International Significance”.  It is open to the public weekdays.

Rural Whitford has seen many changes since the first European settlers arrived in 1843 but it still retains a rustic charm. This is horse country with a very active pony club, stables and stud farms gracing the landscape.

Beachlands is a seaside township undergoing rapidly development as it is now being “discovered” by young families and lifestylers. It has two good swimming beaches, although only each side of the high tide. A new shopping centre means plenty of choice when it comes to cafes and eateries. Neighbouring Formosa Golf Course is an international standard golf course that it one of the most challenging in New Zealand. One of the challenges is keeping your mind on the game, especially on the ninth and 11th holes where the views are just stunning. The course is known for its palm trees that flank most of the fairways. Formosa also offers top class accommodation in stand-alone chalets, a restaurant and fitness centre.

Across the main road from Beachlands is access to the Whitford Forest its many mountain bike tracks. A permit is required and tracks are closed when logging operations are underway.

Between Beachlands and Maraetai is Te Puru Park with playing fields, tennis and netball courts, and the sports complex with its sprung sport floor. The centre offers a busy schedule of sporting and recreational activities.

Pine Harbour is home to a marina, multi storey apartment living, a small business area with cafe and restaurant, and  – perhaps most important of all – the SeaLink passenger ferries that can rush you to or from the middle of Auckland city in under half an hour.

A walkway around the cliffs takes you from Pine Harbour to the western end of Beachlands. From there you can walk the length of Second View Ave to the start of the Beachlands-Maraetai walk/cycleway.  This concrete pathway take you along the clifftops with  great views, along the Te Puru foreshore, across the Te Puru Creek and through Omana Regional Park (or take a detour along a bush track that includes a boardwalk across wetlands). From there walk along Omana foreshore and take the shell path across the rocks from Te Pene Pt to the Maraetai Boat Club. Walk past the boat club and arrive at Maraetai Beach and wharf. From Pine Harbour will take you a couple of hours, but there’s a swimming beach and foreshore cafes waiting at the end!


Maraetai is all about the beach. Maraetai Beach vies with Eastern Beach for the title of “best beach in east Auckland”. It is possible to swim at all tides, although high tide is best. There’s a wharf that makes for a popular diving platform and there’s plenty of parking along the foreshore. Take your pick from several cafes or restaurants and dine al fresco while watching all the beach activity. Maraetai Park on the beachfront is a big grass area perfect for big family picnics and a game of volleyball.

At high tide on a perfect summer’s day, the short drive from Maraetai around the winding Coast road to Umupuia would surely rate as one of the most spectacular anywhere on Earth. Umupuia is home to Ngai Tai ki Tamaki’s marae and is an important cultural centre for the Ngai Tai tribe who have occupied the area since the earliest days of Maori settlement in Aotearoa (New Zealand).   


The Coast area has a long history of settlement by the Ngai Tai tribe. Ngai Tai have a long, unbroken genealogy and occupation of their lands, waters and seas extending from the aboriginal Polynesian settlers, pre-dating the Hawaiiki immigrants. The symbol best describing this is the taonga currently residing in the Auckland Museum –  a fossil human footprint dating from the founding eruption of Rangitoto 600 years ago and discovered on Motutapu island.  Important pa sites can be seen at Maraetai, Omana Regional Park and Motukaraka Island (Flat Island) off Sunkist Bay, Beachlands.

Early European settlement took place at Whitford, due to easy access by boat via the Turanga Creek. Whitford was also home to the Grangers Brickworks. The last remaining reminder of the brickworks is a small brick building at the Whitford Pony Club.

Maraetai was identified as a recreational beach resort as early as the 1900s, but it remained mainly a small settlement of holiday homes (baches) due to the arduous trip from Auckland via difficult roads. It wasn’t until more recent times, and improved roads, that permanent settlement took place on a larger scale. Today an hourly bus service and ferries to Pine Harbour means the beach is much more accessible.

Find businesses in the area

East Auckland Tourism

Official visitor information site for the East of Auckland area, promoting our fantastic destination to local visitors and tourists.

The region offers a multitude of activities, everything from night entertainment to relaxation in the sun, fun for the family and stylish dining. 

Our association supports local businesses that offer products and services in hospitality and activity related industries.

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