This station was the only one in the world that caught whales with nets, and it was Northland’s longest running and most successful station.
The physical remains at Whangamumu represent the last factory based whaling station in Northland.
According to better known history, whaling at Whangamumu began in 1893 when the Cook brothers George, William and Herbert shifted whaling operations from Outu Bay, on the Raukaumangamanga peninsula to Whangamumu harbor.
During the late 1800s at Whangamumu 16 to 20 whales was a fair season’s catch, each whale being worth £100, or around $100,000 today.
By 1901, the number of whales caught began to increase with the purchase of a steam launch Waiwiri.
In 1910, the station was transformed into an extensive factory under the name of Messrs Jagger and Cook.
That same year the vessel Hananui was purchased, and the netting method was abandoned.
This steam powered boat had a harpoon fitted to it and substantially increased the whale catch rate.
Things went well for the whaling station owners until the depression in the 1930s when operations and profits went into decline.
Oil was harder to sell, and prices fell dramatically.
After temporary periods of opening and closure, the final episode of the station came in 1940 when the station was extensively rebuilt and reopened.
However the industry never picked as the new owners had expected / wanted.
The whaling station was finally closed down and abandoned when one of its boats, the Niagara, was sunk and left a crude oil slip in the vicinity of Whangamumu causing the humpbacks to avoid their old route.
To watch a TVNZ documentary of the whaling station, click here.
It’s an eery and intriguing place to visit!
After you have spent some time at the whaling station, and taken in its fascinating history, you can proceed up the Whangamumu Track to get back to the main Cape Brett Track via TeToroa Bay.
When you join up with the main Cape Brett Track again, you’ll be about 2.5 hours from the Lighhouse at the Cape.
But before you get there, there are two more features of the Cape Brett walk which you won’t want to miss.
The first is to take a left hand turn down to Deep Water Cover.
The turn off is well signposted on the Cape Brett track so you need have no fear of missing it.
It will take you 30 minutes to get to Deep Water Cover, and 30 minutes to return back to the main Cape Brett track, but it’s well worth the effort.