Smugglers Bay Loop Track at Whangārei Heads is perfect for an adventurous family day out

View of Smugglers Bay

If you’re looking for a fun day out with the kids, then the Smugglers Loop Track in Whangārei, is an excellent choice. This scenic trail is a popular spot for families as it offers an easy(ish) walk that can be completed in just a few hours. Here are some tips and advice to help you make the most of your day out.

Firstly, make sure you’re prepared for the weather. Whangārei’s climate can be unpredictable, so be sure to check the forecast before you head out. Dress appropriately for the weather and bring rain gear just in case. It’s also a good idea to bring plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent as well as water bottles and snacks.

It pays to get there early as the carpark at the end of Urquhart’s Bay gets quite full (especially in the summertime) and is a bit on the small side. There are public toilets at the start of the track.

The Smugglers Loop Track is a total distance of 5.8 km and is most suitable for school age children as there are a couple of sets of reasonably steep stairs both up and down.  

The water on a clear day is a stunning shade of blue!

Looking down towards Smugglers Bay
There are some amazing views of the Whangārei Heads coastline on this walk.

I always suggest going anticlockwise if you want to get most of the walking out of the way first and finish with a swim at Smugglers Bay.  Along the way, you’ll find some stunning views of the Whangarei Heads and the surrounding countryside including some of the old gun embankments which are great fun to explore.

Please take care of our precious environment while you are there. The Smugglers Loop Track is a conservation area, so be sure to take all rubbish with you and leave nothing behind. Make sure your children stay on the designated trail and avoid disturbing any plants or wildlife. You might run across some friendly cows and pukeko’s on your walk.

The view from just a few minutes on from the start of the track
The view from just a few minutes on from the start of the track towards Mt Mania.

Don’t forget to take your time and have fun! The Smugglers Loop Track is a great way to spend a day out with your family. Take your time, enjoy the scenery, and make some lasting memories with kids.

Finally, if you finish your adventure around lunch-time, stop by the Parua Bay Tavern for lunch on your way home. They have an awesome pirate ship playground in the garden and a great selection of kids meals.

The Smugglers Bay Loop Track is a Department of Conservation track so always check their website for the latest information on whether the track is open and any areas that may not be accessible due to storm damage.