Wattle Bay is one of my favourites. Accessible with a 15 minute bush walk from Sylvania Crescent, or down from Cape Horn Rd, there is a large grassed area beside the beach. At high tide, the water is nice and clear and the bay is surrounded by hectares of beautiful native bush, which supports a fantastic range of birds and insects.
Wattle Bay is so-named because the hill behind used to be a Wattle plantation. Yes, a now-pest species was farmed- mostly for firewood. Since these trees are no longer there, maybe we can start to use the Māori name – Taunahi. I’m not 100% sure but the name seems to come from a combination of words to mean “nurse after an attack” – so possibly this was a resting place after a battle. There is archaeological evidence of pre-european Māori occupation – something that will hopefully be investigated further in the future.
This area used to have a number of baches, which were demolished in the 1980’s. This is also the site where Wally Kerschel did his famous beetle study in the 1970s – where he found over 900 types of beetle in a very small area.
But the real highlight of Taunahi/Wattle Bay is an unnamed beach about 5 minutes further along the track, towards Cape Horn. Let’s call it…
Taunahi iti (Little Taunahi)
This is a beautiful little beach. Aesthetically, the flaxes and overhanging bush make it a fantastic spot for an afternoon. There is a seat, a tire swing (which looms dangerously over a fallen pine…) and a nice grassed area. This also has more sand than the ‘main’ Wattle Bay. This beach is probably easiest accessed from Cape Horn Rd and walking down the track.
Wattle Bay Ranking:
When you take both beaches into account, Wattle Bay is a beautiful place. The main beach itself is lovely on a high tide, and even on a low tide the walk around the rocks is top notch. “Little Wattle Bay” is what pushes this to such a high ranking, this spot in the evening is world class.
The water is extremely clear on an incoming tide here, due to the tidal nature of the bay. There are two rubbish bins provided, both of which are regularly emptied. I’d like to see the tall grass behind the main bay given a bit of love.
A decent walk to both beaches. Coming down from Sylvania Cres will take around 15 minutes, returning will be a bit longer. The walk from Cape Horn would take about 10 minutes down, but 20 going up – you’ll probably need a few breaks.
2 rubbish bins, a broken seat and a tire swing. Not the greatest. However, the history of the site, and the great Bush walk in, push this score up.
I really enjoy Wattle Bay. The native bush, wildlife and undisturbed peace. However, the long walk, lack of facilities and somewhat unkempt grass keeps the score down.
Let down by accessibility and amenities, don’t let the score deceive you. Taunahi/Wattle Bay is well worth a trip.