Cape Kidnappers

Come within a few feet of one of the planet’s largest mainland gannet colonies. The seabirds nest here on this breathtaking peninsula.

Cape Kidnappers is a dramatic outcrop of jagged sandstone jutting out into the ocean. Hike along a trail with spectacular rock formations and crystal-clear pools to reach the gannet colony. Enjoy a picnic with a magnificent view or play a round at the world-renowned golf course on the headland.

The cape got its name during Captain Cook’s voyage to the area in 1769. On arrival, the local Maori tribe attempted to abduct Cook’s servant boy.

Beginning at Clifton on the western edge of the cape, follow the scenic seaside hiking trail. On your way, see the dramatic sheer cliff faces and discover secluded coves where birds and marine life hide away. The walk is approximately a 5-hour roundtrip so pack some lunch and stop for a rest in the sun beside the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The route is tide-dependent so set off no earlier than 3 hours after high water and start the return journey no later than 90 minutes after low.

If you would prefer to put your feet up, join one of the tractor tours that carry passengers along the beach to the headland. Listen as your driver talks about the area’s fascinating history and points out the stunning natural landmarks.

Marvel at the Black Reef gannet colony that reside on a flat surface of rock at the tip of Cape Kidnappers. Watch in awe as these striking white birds care for their young before spreading their vast wings and plunging into the sea at great speeds in search of fish.

Golf fans will not want to miss the opportunity to experience this amazing coastal location from the green. Created by well-regarded golf architect Tom Doak, this par 71 course is set in sublime surroundings at 460 feet (140 meters) above sea level.

Cape Kidnappers is best accessed from Clifton at the west end of the cape where a parking lot can be found. The cape is under 30 minutes from Napier and Hastings by car. The gannets arrive here in early November before leaving on their migration around March so plan your trip accordingly. The reserve and golf course are open year-round.