Shakespeare Headland. (Time required: 1 hours from Whitianga plus coffee breaks & swim time)
If you are leaving Whitianga side of the harbour, then the ferry will carry your bike on its roof for a nominal cost. You also have to pay a fare.
Once at Ferry Landing ride up the hill and along the road behind Front Beach and Flaxmill Bay. Keep the visits to the coffee houses you pass for the return trip. At Flaxmill Bay the road has a small climb to a saddle between that bay and Cooks Beach. An unsealed road on the left at the saddle takes the rider up to the top of the headland. At the look-out there is a wide vista from Whitianga and Buffalo Beach to Wharekaho (Simpson Beach), the islands in Mercury Bay, Cooks Beach and Lonely Bay beneath you and Cook Headland.
The track to Lonely Bay which you passed on the way up the road is worth a visit. Leave the bike at the car park (locked to a tree) and walk down to the beach. Clear water with a small dump on to white sand with some trees for shade makes great swimming. Remove any car keys from your pocket before swimming.
Leaving the look-out, ride back along the road to a gate on the right and enter the paddock. There is a shaped road that takes you to the top of the rise. There is also a table that was placed there by the Queen on her visit to celebrate the bi-centenary of Cooks visit to watch the transit of Mercury. Ride across the pasture and bear left at top of rise where there are old cattle tracks down the slope. A riding challenge.
Near the bottom you head to the right and pick up the gate that goes through to the car park at Flaxmill Bay. Do not ride the pedestrian track down the cliff edge over Flaxmill Bay. It has walkers on it and high cliffs on the side. An easy ride back to the ferry via the coffee shops.
Points of interest: Whitianga was named by Kupe; Te Whitianga-a-Kupe (The crossing place of Kupe). Wharekaho Beach Headland was the stronghold of Hei and a pa site Mercury Bay was called by Hei; Te Whanganui o Hei (The great bay of Hei) who was linked to the great migration canoe Te Arawa Captain Cook visited the bay in 1769 Buffalo Beach was named after HMS Buffalo. It was anchored in the bay and was blown ashore by a storm on 28 July 1840. It was a converted man-o-war boat and took convicts to Sydney before coming to the bay to load spars