Purakaunui is a well kept secret, often described as a different world just over the hill. Serene forest areas are scattered around a peaceful inlet, leading out to a large bay.
The populated side of the inlet features a community of holiday houses, known locally as cribs. Parking and walking access is located near the water. The inlet is a popular spot for swimming and boating. The walking track to the mouth of the bay is another option if you’d prefer to stay dry.
Access to the beach is on the other side of the bay. Follow the road around from Purakaunui School Road to reach a parking area in the forest. It’s recommended to park here as the road turns into a narrow track, although some people drive through regardless.
Local birdlife and distant waves resonate quietly through the forest in the 15 minute walk to the beach. The end of walk reveals a wide bay surrounded by headland. The beach extends a long way towards the inlet.
Mapoutahi Pa is on the left as you enter the beach. This rugged headland is the site of a historic Maori Pa. A path leads to the point, with spectacular views of the coast. Take care on the track as the edges are all steep cliff faces.
Canoe Beach is a smaller beach just behind Mapoutahi Pa. It is an amazing spot, well sheltered from the elements. At low tide, the coast access continues around to Doctors Point. Make sure to leave enough time for the return journey.
To get there, drive out to Port Chalmers and make a left turn as you enter. Follow the road up towards Long Beach. Keep following the signs, but continue along Purakaunui Road rather than turn off at Mihiwaka Road.