The Roseate Tern Hiking Trail
  • Port Elizabeth

Go Back


  • Longitude: 25.691017
  • Latitude: -34.013262
  • Map

Rates Disclaimer

  • Rates may vary and reduced rates may apply to additional persons. All rates are indicative only, may be seasonal and are subject to change without notice.

About The Roseate Tern Hiking Trail

Roseate Tern Hiking Trail

This 8 km walk which takes 3-4 hours starts at the entrance gate to the Cape Receife Nature Reserve (where there are ablutions).

The 366 ha nature reserve was proclaimed in 1973 and is situated adjacent to the Pine Lodge Resort off Marine Drive. No permit is required for hikers leaving their vehicles in the parking area outside the gate but an annual or weekly permit, available from the Pine Lodge Resort, is required for vehicles entering the reserve.

The trail is suitable for moderately fit persons who are advised to walk in a group, wear stout shoes and take a sun hat and drinking water. No dogs are allowed.

A bird hide next to a reclamation pond is found on the first leg of the trail.The pond is part of the Cape Receife water reclamation works and the water is unsuitable for drinking or washing purposes. These ponds make this area one of the best birdwatching venues around Port Elizabeth. Several species of ducks and waders can be seen. Shy reed bed birds such as Black Crake, Purple Gallinule and the Little Bittern may be seen and otters are not uncommon.

The purple flowers of the Ipomoea Creeper are very conspicuous along the trail leading on from the hide. Bushpig spoor is often seen as are several buck species in the vegetated dune areas next to the beach.

The trail passes Cape Receife lighthouse, built in 1851 and only recently automated. The area surrounding the lighthouse is part of a sand by-pass dune system typical of many of the south coast peninsulas. At low tide the rock pools provide a fascinating glimpse of life under the waves where sea-anemones and starfish can be found.

Near the lighthouse is a large tern roost where the rare roseate tern is sometimes seen. Off the end of the point waves can be seen breaking over Thunderbolt Reef, the graveyard of numerous ships, the latest being the Kapodistrias which was wrecked on 29 July 1985.

The trail then heads inland over sand dunes vegetated with fynbos and dune scrub. It meanders through the remains of World War II barracks before climbing the hill to the observation post which was erected in 1940 as part of the harbour defences. From here there is an excellent view of the bay and the reserve which consists of many stablised dunes, once part of an extensive shifting dune system that covered much of Summerstrand.

Please note that use of the area is at your own risk.

Map and Directions to The Roseate Tern Hiking Trail

GPS : 34° 0' 47.72" S / 25° 41' 27.62" E

Continue on Marine Drive past Admiralty Way for about 2.2 km and turn left towards Pine Lodge. After almost 900 m you will come to a parking area at the gate to the Cape Receife Nature Reserve. Walk into the reserve 500 m along the road and the Roseate Tern Trail leads off to the left.

Get Directions