8 km
2 hours
40 minutes
Information for this trail was last updated May 2024

Kōpūtūtea is a seven kilometre stretch of dune landscape between Midway Beach and the mouth of the Waipaoa River. The privately owned reserve is managed jointly by Gisborne District Council and owners, Kōpūtūtea Trust, enabling public access to the beach through the dunes. Visitors are reminded to treat this private land with respect, and leave only foot or cycle tyre prints.

A popular recreation destination, Kōpūtūtea provides for a range of uses including walking, running, cycling, driftwood collecting and dog exercising, and access to the coast and river for surf-casting, surfing, collecting kaimoana and other water activities. 


History of the trail

The Kōpūtūtea Dunes is the result of accretion and is attached to a narrow strip of tidal flats separated from the open sea by foredune, storm beach and road. 

The area from Pacific Street to the mouth of the Waipaoa River has been integral to the landscape surrounding Tūranganui a Kiwa Poverty Bay. The abundance of seafood at the Waipaoa River mouth and its proximity to the estuarine Awapuni (now reclaimed) and Te WheroWhero lagoons has meant Kōpūtūtea has been an important part of the history of both tangata whenua and post-European settlement.  Kōputūtea Co-Management Plan, GDC 2012

In 2017, Gisborne District Council installed bollards along the edge of Centennial Marine Drive to restrict vehicle access through the dunes, allow dune vegetation to recover and deter rubbish dumping. However, informal vehicle tracks persist through the dunes. Rubbish dumping remains a problem.

The owners are considering a proposal for a trail to be built through the dunes for walking and cycling from Midway Beach to the mouth of the Waipaoa River. A well-used formal trail is expected to deter rubbish dumping and restrict access to just one route, allowing vegetation to recover elsewhere.


Tips & Logistics

The Kōpūtūtea Dunes Trail is a one-way trail, but can be connected to the Coastal Waipaoa River Trail, and a ride through quiet rural roads back to Gisborne, or a return cycle ride along Centennial Marine Drive.

Existing rough vehicle trails can be used by walkers or cyclists, starting from the formal dunes car park west of Pacific Street. It is a fun mountain bike ride on firm sand with numerous small undulations and curves, and sweeping Pacific Ocean coastal views with big swells during southerly weather patterns.