Explore the Pouto Peninsula



NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group



At 600ha, the Poutō Peninsula, south of Dargaville, has one of the largest unmodified dune systems in Aotearoa. Here is a varied and ever-changing landscape; some dunes reach 214m above sea level and give way to wetlands, sand flats and multiple lakes. Several threatened species make the place their home. Birdwatchers with time, patience and luck on their side may spot new zealand dotterel, new zealand dabchick, brown teal and australasian bittern. There is also a range of threatened plants and rare insects, including the black katipō spider and false scorpions (brownish arachnids without the stinging tail). The Poutō Peninsula is one of contrast. While it seems wild, rugged and full of hidden secrets, it's also delicate. The dunes can shift and change almost overnight, sometimes revealing shipwrecks and petrified kauri, or redrawing the landscape. One constant is the Poutō Lighthouse. Built in 1884, it's the country's oldest wooden lighthouse. The threestorey structure must have provided salvation for those crossing the mighty Kaipara Bar, but it has been out of service since 1947 — the same day the harbour closed to ships. It's possible to drive to Poutō Point via a mainly gravel road, but access to the beach requires a 4WD and care. The lighthouse is a 7km walk along the coast, and is do-able for the moderately fit. Always drive below the high-tide mark, avoiding the beach two hours before high tide and three hours after. The peninsula is an hour's drive from Dargaville.