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North Beach




Off Palmerston Street (the main street) and take any right turn street – follow until you get to Derby St – then turn left and follow the signs to the Beach or Buller River Mouth. Follow the sandy trails into Les Warren Park, and park there.

North Beach

– Though do keep the children and dogs under tight control up on the Buller River Breakwater.  The walk includes the spectacular river bar entrance (huge wave swells), sand pools to play in, masses of driftwood in amazing shapes and colours, and at its end, the estuary environment of the Orowaiti Lagoon.  For a 15 minute walk, stroll down the breakwater and then back down to the beach park area.

A feature of this beach is that timber flushed down the Buller River is washed up by the coastal current and forms the only protection from the sea.  Wood carvers and gardeners love nature’s sculptured and weathered pieces of native timber.

Start at the Buller River Mouth, referred to by locals as the tiphead, probably because this huge breakwater or groyne which forms Buller River harbour was built from big slabs of granite brought down by rail from Cape Foulwind – the head, was where they ‘tipped’ it  - the tiphead.

Walking North you can follow the beach right up to mouth of the Orowaiti River which forms the Orowaiti Lagoon.  Locals call this Giles Creek and it is the exit point for the Westport Flood Protection Scheme.  This tidal lagoon is wading bird paradise (watch out for grey and white herons) and one of the Buller region’s most important whitebait spawning and wetland areas.

This beach is never crowded although you will find a concentration of family fun close to the car park area.  Heading north, you will soon find the beach becomes YOURS.

So if you like a bit of solitude and bird-watching go north!

History and how the Orowaiti got it’s name

When local Maori paid for some goods in Nelson with gold, an enterprising local shopkeeper, Reuben Waite, decided to ‘follow the money’ and with no competition to two years, eventually opened a shop at the river mouth.  Before this, the story goes, that locals would look out for his ship loaded with goods – and welcome him joyfully with ‘Kia Ora Waite’.

General Info

Distance: Round trip 3 hours – but do as much or as little as you like

Difficulty: Easy

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