4km return
1 hour
No cycling on this trail

Wainui Surf Club to Okitu Sperm Whale grave, 4 km return.

Information for this trail was last updated January 2024

Several informal trails meander along the dunes from Wainui Beach Surf Life Saving Club car park, on the northern side of Hamanatua Stream, to the Sperm Whales Grave car park, at the eastern end of Okitu Beach. This area is known as the W. D. Lysnar Reserve. These trails are more suitable for walking because the sand is soft. There can also be rough and wet sections, where waterways cross the dunes. At low tide, an alternative is to walk on the beach.

W. D. Lysnar Reserve and Wainui Beach have a long history as an area for horse-riding. The "Pines" has picnic tables and a playground.   

Although Wainui Beach is the most consistently surfed, Okitu Beach also has several recognised surf breaks. The Pines car park is a great place to watch the surfing action when the surf is pumping! And, in favourable conditions, this is the place for kite surfing too.

The Whales Grave car park has a public toilet. An information sign at the grave site tells the tragic story of the beaching of 59 sperm whales in 1970. The whales were buried in the dunes, Maori church leaders holding prayers over the burial ceremony.


Trail fly-through

History of the trail

This coastal area was originally titled, through the Maori Land Court, to Ngati Konohi and Ngati Rakai. Post-colonisation, it was subdivided and the Lysnar family bought portions of the area. On 5 December 1921, Winifred Lysnar gifted the area, from Wainui Surf Life Saving Club to just south of "the Chalet", to the Gisborne Borough.

Historically, horse riding was popular when the reserve was part of the Winifred Lysnar Riding School. Today, riding horses along the beach at low tide is a regular feature. 

GDC, W. D. Lysnar and Wainui Beach Reserves Management Plan

Tips & Logistics

The Okitu dunes has car parks, playgrounds, picnic tables, public toilets and beach access.