A woman overlooking the blue water in front of Lane Cove Hut

Lane Cove Hut – Spend a Night under Duke’s Nose

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If you’re looking for an escape to nature in New Zealand, one of the best ways is to stay at a DOC hut. Lane Cove Hut is one of the most beautiful ones!

The track is not well known and is not well maintained compared to other trails. But that’s why fewer crowds will be there at least during the week.

So let’s get started and learn all about Lane Cove Hut 🤩

How to get to Lane Cove Hut

Lane Cove Hut is in the far North of New Zealand. It is about a 4-hour drive from Auckland. So if you are visiting from there it will be a lot of driving. Or you can visit as part of a Northland Road Trip like we did.

As you can see on the map below there can be lots of roadworks heading up North. So be prepared for delays or detours.

A map showing the location of the Lane Cove Hut in Northland New Zealand

To get to Lane Cove Hut, you must walk the Wairakau Stream track. The track is 4.7 km (3 miles) long and takes about 2 hours depending on the conditions on the track.

There is no public transport to Lane Cove Hut so you will have to rent a vehicle if you do not have your own. Rentalcars.com has cars from 17 USD per day 👇

When to Go

After reading reviews it seems like the track is in bad condition if it has rained recently. So I recommend doing the track if it is dry. The track becomes very slippery if it rains. There are also a couple of river crossings, which may be difficult in wet conditions.

When we did the hike it was very dry but I could see how difficult it could get in wet conditions. Even when it is dry there are muddy sections and you will have to try to balance on some logs laid on top of the mud.

The best time to go is midweek. If you are not from New Zealand you may not know that the roads up North can be very busy on the weekends. So I would avoid driving up on Fridays, particularly in summer or you will be stuck in terrible traffic.

Read here: Auckland’s best Coastal Hike 🥾

A man walking along a grassy field wearing a large back pack on the way to the Lane Cove Hut

Booking Lane Cove Hut

Lane Cove Hut is a DOC. The Department of Conservation is a government agency that manages all public parks and wildlife areas throughout New Zealand.

They have huts on the North and South Island where you can stay the night. The fees are reasonable and the huts are usually located in isolated natural areas.

Staying in them is great if you want to escape to nature without going camping. The huts are usually quite basic so you must be prepared with everything you need.

You can book Lane Cove Hut here for 25 NZD (15 USD) p.p. per night.

Tip: On the DOC booking site you can see how many beds are booked. I recommend going when the hut is almost empty. We had only 2 other people and it made our experience so much better. If the hut is full it will be crowded.

The outside of Lane Cove Hut with Duke's Nose in the back

What to Bring

  • Sleeping Bag: there are only thin mattresses on the beds in the hut
  • Sturdy Shoes: the track can be very muddy and slippery
  • Food: there are pots and pans but you need to have a camping stove to cook
  • Head Lamp: the hut has no electricity so a headlamp is useful
  • Pillow: we bought our pillows from home. It took up lots of space but was worth it
  • Drinking Water: water is available at the hut but it is untreated rainwater

Read here: Epic Ridge Walk near Auckland 🤩

Hut Facilities

Lane Cove Hut is a fairly typical DOC hut with very basic facilities. There is no electricity so you need to ensure all your devices are fully charged. A headlamp will be useful to find your way around at night. Although we just used our phone lights and it was fine.

There is water available at the hut but it is untreated rain water. So DOC cannot guarantee it is safe to drink and advice you should boil it first. If you do not have equipment to boil water make sure to bring all the water you need with you – that’s what we did.

At the hut, there are pots and pans to cook food. But you will need to bring along your own camping stove to cook with them. There were gas canisters at the hut to use.

Since we don’t have camping equipment we just bought a pre-cooked chicken, hummus, bread and veggies. The balcony at the hut is an amazing spot to enjoy your meal!

Read here: These are Auckland’s Best Hikes! 🤠

A woman sitting at a wooden picnic table admiring the view over Whangaroa Harbour

Toilet and Beds

There are toilets at the hut but they are long drops so be prepared for them to be smelly. On the DOC website, it says to bring your own toilet paper. But there was plenty of toilet paper at Lane Cove Hut when we visited.

The hut is equipped with four wooden bunk beds with thin mattresses on top. So you will need to bring a sleeping bag. We also chose to bring our pillows from home which made it much more comfortable (but did clog our luggage).

Up to 16 people can sleep in the hut at the same time. When we visited there was only one other couple so we had a whole room to ourselves which was awesome.

But if it is fully booked the rooms could be quite cramped. So unless you do not mind sharing with a lot of people try to visit when there are not many other bookings.

Tip: If the hut is fairly empty I recommend taking two mattresses and stacking them on top of each other. This made it much more comfortable to sleep. Of course, only do this if there are plenty of free beds.

The interior of Lane Cove Hut's kitchen
A long drop painted with ferns on it in the bush

Parking

To start the hike you will first need to find a spot to park your car at the start of the trail. The trail is called the Wairakau Stream Trail.

If you google the starting point you will be directed to this car park. This is not the exact starting point and is a car park that costs 5 NZD (3 USD). The start of the trail is not marked on Google Maps but you can find it here. The entrance is in front of the Kauri Hills Estate.

If it is not busy you should be able to park on the road right in front of the entrance to the trail. Otherwise, you will have to go to the paid parking.

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A sign showing the start of the Wairakau Stream Track

Starting the Hike

At the start of the track, you will see a sign with distances and times to Lane Cove Hut. The track is 4.7 km (3 miles) and will take 2 hours. If it is slippery it may take longer.

As with most walks around Northland, you will have to clean your shoes to prevent the spread of Kauri Die Back Disease. This is a disease that kills Kauri a native tree only found in New Zealand. So it is important you give them a good clean.

A man with a backpack on washing his feet to prevent Kauri die back disease
A man with a backpack on walking along a dirt road that is surrounded by bush and ferns in Northland New Zealand

The first 15-20 minutes of the walk are uphill on a fairly wide dirt road. Once you get to the top of the hill the track heads into the bush. The track gets a lot narrower here and if it has rained recently it can be very slippery in sections.

The track here is a nice bushwalk that should be peaceful as the track is not a busy one. While walking through this area we only saw four other hikers. Which was a nice change from the huge crowds on the Tongariro Crossing!

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A man walking through the bush on the way to Lane Cove Hut
A man with a backpack on crossing a stream on the way to Lane Cove Hut

River Crossing

After about 30 minutes downhill you will come to the first river crossing. As it was quite dry when we went the river was easy to cross without getting our shoes wet.

There are rocks across the stream that you can stand on to cross. But a bit of rain will mean you will have to get your feet wet.

After the river, there is also a very swampy area. It has logs and branches on top of the swamp to help you cross. Some people may have trouble balancing them as they are quite unstable. If it has been raining this section may be super muddy and difficult to cross.

After the swampy section, there is one more river crossing, and then you enter a wide-open grassing area that has awesome views of the rocky outcrops surrounding Whangaroa Harbour.

A woman with a blue back ack on walking down a path between some high grass
A man with a backpack on looking at the water by some mangroves in Northland New Zealand

Soon you will arrive at the river mouth that feeds into mangroves and the harbour. If the weather is nice and the tide is high there are beautiful glimpses of the turquoise water.

The track winds along the side of the harbour with a few ups and downs for about 30 minutes. It was surprisingly tiring along this part as it was quite a warm day.

But the vegetation and water views are great. Some sections here are covered in tree roots that are also slippery when wet.

Book: Cheap travel health insurance with SafetyWing. Read about our experience plus other options here 💪

Tourqoise waters of a harbour viewed from in between tree branches

Arriving at the Hut

It is not too long before you will arrive at Lane Cove Hut! We arrived at high tide on a sunny day and it was absolutely beautiful.

The walk to the hut was great but arriving at the hut was the highlight for us. It is in such a special location and if the tide is in crystal clear water will come up right to the edge.

The hut was empty when we arrived and we spent the afternoon eating and taking in the views. It was amazing to have such a special place to ourselves for the whole afternoon.

In the evening another couple arrived and we spent the night chatting and watching the stars. In this part of Northland on a clear night, the sky is full of stars and you can spend hours watching them twinkle away. Pure magic!

Useful tips? Say thanks with a coffee! 💛

A yacht moored in a harbor at sunset in front of Lane Cove Hut

Dukes Nose Hike

One of the star attractions of visiting the Lane Cove Hut is hiking up to Dukes Nose/Kairara Rock. This is a large rocky hill that rises beside Lane Cove.

It is about a 25-minute hike to the top which is fairly steep. There is also a steep rock climb where you will have to pull yourself up using a metal pipe attached to the rocks.

If you are scared of heights this might be a bit of a challenge. But the views from the top are worth it! Katharina is petrified of heights but with my help, she made it to the top. It took a bit of convincing but the views were well worth it.

The rocky formations around Whangaroa Harbour and the turquoise blue water are amazing. It has to be one of the best views that I have seen in the whole of Northland!

A woman sitting on the top of a hill looking at the blue waters of the Whangaroa Harbour at the top of the Dukes Nose Hike in Northland New Zealand

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Enjoy visiting Lane Cove Hut!

During our 3 months in New Zealand visiting the Lane Cove Hut was one of the unexpected highlights. It truly is one of the hidden gems of Northland.

There are not too many places in the world where you can stay in such a spectacular location for a reasonable price. After visiting we have been inspired to visit more DOC huts. So look out for more DOC hut reviews by subscribing here 💌

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Hi, I am Allan, a travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. I'm a former lawyer who turned into a full-time nomad in 2020. For the last 4+ years I've been traveling the world. I'm always on a hunt for good food, activities on a budget and workouts on the go. I hope you find my tips helpful and get inspired to travel more!

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