Waikato trail notes

Waikato trail notes PDF download

Contents

Mercer to Rangiriri

Route

Whangamarino Redoubt Track - 2.5km / 45 minutes

This is a very scenic route but the track is basic, hilly and can be slippery - so good footwear and reasonable fitness required.  From the southern end of Skeet Road, keep going straight ahead, following the fence-line and orange markers. When the fence ends, keep following the markers over farmland and through the bush. From the high points, there are great views of the Waikato River and the Whangamarino wetland which is the second-largest bog and swamp complex in the North Island.

Near the southern end of the track is the Whangamarino Redoubt (a historic site from the Māori Wars era). At a stile, you have the choice of going right, past remnants of the war entrenchments and through Department of Conservation (DOC) estate or straight ahead down to Oram Road.

Whangamarino Wetlands Track - 5.5km / 2 hours

From the Whangamarino floodgate, follow the markers underneath the railway line and the two highway bridges before coming up on the banks of the Waikato River and west of SH1.

Walk south as close as practicably to the Waikato River, past the mythological Taniwha lairs and through boggy wetlands and landscaped grasslands to the outfall by the former power station.

Just south of the old power station, veer west off the highway shoulder and follow the marked track along the stopbank. Continue on south along the river bank until you reach Dragway Road. Turn west and follow the road to the end.

Waikato River - 17.5km / 6 hours

Near the end of Dragway Road, an ignimbrite rock marker marks the trailhead, engraved with a Waikato River verse from a Topp Twins song. Signage indicates walkers are under the protection of the Ngāti Naho taniwha.

The first 9km from Dragway Road to the Te Kauwhata Pumphouse is the most scenic part of the track. It follows farm tracks and the stopbank for 3km before ascending hilly terrain to a height of 35m with good river views, before descending again to the flats. Kahikatea, cabbage trees and puketea alongside the trail give a hint of the original riverside vegetation.

Soon after, the track passes onto another farm frontage, climbing to another river viewpoint before crossing a swamp on a 30m boardwalk and exiting just north of the Pumphouse. The Pumphouse is accessible by Hall Road if you want to arrange a pickup by car here.

The track continues along the stopbank parallel to Churchill East Road for most of the remaining 8.5km to Rangiriri. The quiet road shoulder is an option if you don’t like moving past occasional cattle - wear hi-viz and remove headphones.

You will find a new water supply near the pump house at marker 695km - this has been kindly provided by the Te Kauwhata Water Association.

2km south of the Pumphouse, look for Tarahanga, an island that was used in former times as a Māori sentry post to detect invaders on the river. High priests here once uttered powerful incantations and sounded alarms through a rock structure known as Te Pahuu o Ngāti Pou, warning of any impending danger.

Three kilometres along this route, the track diverts on to the road for nearly 2km, then returns to the stopbank again for the final 2km to Rangiriri Bridge. This last section sometimes grazes young bulls so, if you'd prefer, the road is again an option. 

The trail ends near an old redoubt where, in 1863, British troops fought Waikato warriors in a bloody encounter. The nearby Rangiriri Battle Site Heritage Centre displays military relics and an audio-visual of the battle.

For those continuing south, it is safer to walk along the riverbank to pass underneath the bridge and then scramble up the bank to cross Rangiriri Bridge on the southern side of the road.

Potential hazards

  • Vehicles on road or track

  • Farming operations
  • Track exposed to sun, wind or cold
  • Few water sources
  • The track is impassable when the river is in flood. The Waikato is a dangerous river. Swimming is not recommended. Water erosion may undermine the bank near the river edge. Supervise children closely.

No dogs, guns, camping or fires. 

Mercer

Getting to/from the start

The Waikato region conveniently starts near the Mercer Service Centre, SH 1, Mercer. It is well serviced by long-haul bus companies.

Getting there/away

InterCity - P: 09 583 5780 - E: info@intercity.co.nz

Accommodation

  • Rangiriri Hotel - 8 Rangiriri Rd, Rangiriri (pub, bar, food and accommodation) - P: 07 826 3467
  • Cathy Miller is in Rangiriri, adjacent to the pub and cafe. She has camping Call/Text Cathy on 0274 404924. There are public toilets across the road. Fantastic Pies are avaiable. 
  • Kelly Road Accommodation - 19 Kellyville Road, Mercer - on the Koheroa Bypass of the Mercer part of Te Araroa. A 1930's bungalow on 2 tranquil rural  acres overlooking the Waikato River and surrounding farmland. House has 3 bedrooms and 2 newly renovated bathrooms and kitchen. We can offer our guestroom for (King Single + Single. 1 pers $65, 2 pers $100) and extras such as washing and drying, breakfast, hot meals and a hot bubble bath on request. The property sits on the Kellyville tuff ring (volcanic) on Koheroa Ridge (Maori Wars) and boasts part of the old coach road to Auckland. About 1 km North you will find Eglinton Redoubt and further the Mangatawhiri Wetland (protected as a significant natural area). A 2.8 km walk West will take you to the Waikato River where you will also find Mercer Museum, Mobile Petrol station, McDonalds, Muddy Waters Irish Pub & Restaurant, Mercer Cheese Shop, Esquires Cafe, Pokeno Bacon Restaurant, Mercer Adventure Jet and an Indian Take Away. Please contact on mobile 021 1248338 or email sofiaandreen@xtra.co.nz

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Rangiriri to Huntly

Route

Once you've crossed the bridge, continue a further 150m around the first corner and there is a stile to take you across the first fence to this riverside track which runs parallel to Te Ōhākī Road. On a clear day, you'll see the orange-topped chimneys of the Huntly Power station standing in the distance. 

1.5km in, past Maurea Marae, there's a monument to the Ngāti Naho chief, Te Wheoro, whose personal history embodies the extraordinary stresses of colonial rule on Waikato Māori as they argued strategies to preserve tribal identity. Te Wheoro sided at first with the Crown. In 1857, he spoke against setting up a Māori king and, at the great conference of Māori leaders at Kohimarama in 1860, spoke again in favour of the Government. Governor Grey's British troops invaded Waikato territory in July 1863. In November that year, the British Troops overcame the Māori redoubt at Rangiriri, forcing the Māori King, Tāwhiao, out of Ngāruawāhia to sanctuary around Waitomo and Te Kūiti. In the years that followed, Te Wheoro acted as an intermediary for the Government's negotiation with the King. As a Māori MP over the next two decades, Te Wheoro witnessed Government decisions he saw as racist and finally became an implacable critic of the Native Land Court. He came to believe local self-government was right for Māori and in 1884, in company with Tāwhiao, he travelled to England to petition Queen Victoria for a redress of Māori land seizures.

At 7km, the track comes up to the Huntly Golf Course. The track follows the river, keeping behind a screen of trees, safe from the golf balls that ping up the 16th fairway. At the tee, it's safe to come out. The clubhouse is nearby and opens most weekends for hot food, maybe even a beer. Walkers are welcome.

The track follows the stopbank out to Te Ōhākī Road, to circumvent the Huntly Power Station's ash ponds. It stays on the road verge for another kilometre before ducking back onto the stopbanks, crossing Māori land between Te Ohaaki Marae and the river, then exits back onto the road. For the last 200m, it enters shady bush through the sculpture park in front of Huntly Power Station.

From the Sculpture Park, continue south along footpaths/road margins on Te Ōhākī Road - Harris Road - Riverview Road (500m into Hakarimata Road) turn right (south-west) into Parker Road. Walk 800m along this road to the Department of Conservation's Hakarimata Scenic Reserve.

Potential hazards

  • Vehicles on road or track - the Glenmurray Bridge is one lane with a very
  • narrow footpath.
  • Farming operations
  • Track exposed to sun, wind or cold
  • Beware flying golf balls. Also, the Waikato River is dangerous. Don't swim in the river. Water erosion may undermine the bank near the river edge. Supervise children closely.
No dogs, guns, camping or fires

Background Information

Signage at the track start offers walkers the protection of the taniwha, Tarakokomako, and names the seven now-vanished ancestral villages and the two existing marae en route.

Look out for the plaque carved with a taniwha and a greeting from Tainui:

  • Kia tūpato kia pai tō hīkoi - Walk the path in safety
  • Me te titiro whānui, kia koa - Look deeply and learn
  • Ki ngā taonga kei mua i a koe - From your surroundings

A short detour beyond the sculpture park opposite Huntly Power Station, hidden from sight, is a modernist sculpture - an immense and strikingly Māori figure - with poupou standing up from a reflective pool. This depicts the 1995 settlement of a grievance dating back to the 1860s when the largest land confiscation of any tribe was imposed on Tainui.

Huntly

Getting there/away

Local transport

Huntly Taxis - P: 07 828 0100

Accommodation

Accommodation is available in Huntly, across the Tainui Bridge from the Te Araroa route on the eastern side of the river:

Resupply

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Hakarimata Walkway

Route

The Hakarimata Track is steep, hilly and arduous but the bush and views are worth it. The Hakarimata Walkway can be walked from either its southern end, near Ngāruawāhia, or northern end, closer to Huntly. There are car parks at both ends of the track.

The track from Parker Road starts on the Kauri Loop Track which leads up a long flight of steps, then levels out to a largely open area with views to the north. Continue up (southwards) from the Lower Lookout through stands of large rimu to the Upper Lookout with its spectacular views to the north and west.

Alternatively, take the Kauri Loop Track west of the Lower Lookout to walk on past an old pā site and through bush to the large kauri trees. A few minutes further on, there's the kauri grove bush viewpoint. This loop track takes you through to the Upper Lookout. (This will add on approx 1 hour to your day).

The Hakarimata Walkway starts from the Upper Lookout. Head in a southerly direction for 20 minutes to the southern lookout where there are excellent views south across Hamilton. The Walkway continues along the undulating crest of the Hakarimata Range with occasional views out to the west and east. 

Approx 500m southeast of highpoint 314, there is a rough exit track heading down in an easterly direction past the old quarry to Hakarimata Road on the western banks of the Waikato River. It's obviously used by locals as a shortcut to town but it is tight in places.

The main ridge track continues southwards to the Hakarimata Trig at 374m high. Walking 200m south of the trig, take the track leading down towards the Mangarata Stream. This track - "the Summit Track" is a tremendous success story, where the local community have adopted it as a community wellbeing tool, and it won't be uncommon to see locals heading up or down the track (often multiple times) in their quest for better health outcomes.

The track then comes out on Brownlee Avenue which connects with Hakarimata Road. Follow the road south-east until reaching the Waingaro Road Bridge over the Waipā River. The track officially ends on the eastern bank.

If you are after amenities, continue east across the railway and Great South Road to reach Jesmond Street - the main business road in the small township of Ngāruawāhia.

Potential hazards

  • Vehicles on road or track - take care on the one-lane bridge
  • Poisons & traps
  • Few water sources

No dogs allowed.

Background / Historical Information

Just north of Hamilton, Ngāruawāhia is a significant place for Māori. It is the home of the Māori King and the magnificent Tūrangawaewae Marae. The marae is open only once a year, during the annual regatta, which is held on the nearest Saturday to 17 March. Ngāruawāhia is located at the junction of two great rivers - Waikato and Waipā. These rivers were once important canoe routes; later they served European settlers. Taupiri Mountain, which watches over Ngāruawāhia, is sacred and contains the Waikato’s most significant Māori burial ground. You can walk to the summit for views of the region.

General Information

Functional facts: Approximate population of 5000, limited accommodation, basic shops.

Accommodation

Arrow Lodge Motel, 13 Market St, Ngaruawahia. P: 07 8248360: E - arrowlodge@callplus.net.nz

Resupply

  • River Red Motel - 52 Great S Rd, Ngāruawāhia - P: 07 824 7797 E - riverbedmotel@gmail.com - rooms and some tent sites
  • New World Supermarket - 7 Galileo St, Ngāruawāhia - P: 07 824 8275

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Ngāruawāhia to Hamilton - Te Awa (The River)

Route

Immediately after crossing the Waipā River, take a sharp left into Sampson Street and follow it around, joining Broadway Street, then onto the Lower Waikato Esplanade.

Follow this under the railway line and road bridge and immediately after the road bridge, join the paved path. You are now on the Te Awa cycle/walkway. Follow through to the riverside reserve. Across the river is the Tūrangawaewae Marae, a very significant marae of the Māori people of New Zealand and the official residence and reception centre of the head of the Kīngitanga (the Māori King Movement). 

Te Awa continues along the river, continuing south as you leave Ngāruawāhia. You'll see the Ngāruawāhia Golf Course to your right and shortly after a spectacular green bridge will appear. Cross the bridge and you will now be on the true right of the river.

The path will take you to Horotiu Bridge Road, where you'll cross back over the Waikato River, and down onto the Te Awa path along the river, with a small deviation away from the river just past the Fonterra dairy plant.

Potential hazards

  • Vehicles on road or track. Stay as far off SH1 as possible
  • Be aware of cyclists on cycleway into Hamilton from Horotiu

Background Information

Just north of Hamilton, Ngāruawāhia is a significant place for Māori.

It is the home of the Māori King and the magnificent Tūrangawaewae Marae. The marae is open only once a year, during the annual regatta, which is held on the nearest Saturday to the 17th March. Ngāruawāhia is located at the junction of two great rivers - Waikato and Waipā. These rivers were once important canoe routes; later they served European settlers. Taupiri Mountain, which watches over Ngāruawāhia, is sacred and contains the Waikato’s most significant Māori burial ground. You can walk to the summit for views of the region.

Ngāruawāhia

Getting there/away

Accommodation

Or detour west

Resupply

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Hamilton City

Route

Follow the Te Awa (a combined walk-cycle way) south through Braithwaite Park along the (true left) bank of the Waikato River to just south of (having passed under) the Claudelands Road Bridge. From here, you will travel through the city as follows:

Leave the walkway and take the Centennial Steps up onto Alma Street. Head out past the Novotel Tainui and turn left/southeast into Victoria Street. Almost immediately, turn right (southwest) into Garden Place which is an open-space mall. At the Captain Hamilton bronze statue turn right and walk through Centreplace shopping centre to Ward Street (or if after hours continue through Garden Place past the Hamilton City Council building to the Ward Street/Anglesea Street intersection). Follow Ward Street southwest to the intersection of Ward and Tristram Streets.

Here, walk west through Norris Ward Park and at the far side of the park on Seddon Road. Follow signs onto the Western Rail Trail which runs adjacent to the railway line, past the Hamilton Railway Station to Killarney Road. Walk west along Killarney Road and through the Dinsdale Roundabout to Whatawhata Road on the southwest side.

Follow Whatawhata Road until turning left (south) into Melva Street. At the end of this street is Tills Lookout. 

Continue south-westward across farmland on a paved city walk-cycleway, turn left (southwest) into Wallace Road, turn right (northwest) into Taitua Road and walk down the road to the Taitua Arboretum.

Potential hazards

  • Vehicles on road or track - some walkways are shared with bicycles. Take care crossing roads.

Hamilton's Taitua Arboretum is a collection of mature trees on 20 hectares of open pasture, lakes and woodland gardens linked by a network of walking tracks and bridges. The park also features great views and wonderful birdlife. Open 7 days from 8am to half an hour before dusk. Admission free.

Hamilton

General / Visitor information

Getting there/away

Hamilton Transport Centre - National/regional bus services, shuttle services and taxis - Corner of Bryce and Anglesea Sts - P: 07 839 6650 - Facilities include - Café, toilets, showers, bike and luggage lockers, telephones and parking.

Local transport

  • Free Hamilton City Centre buses - leave every 10 minutes Monday - Friday: 7am-6pm Mon-Fri and 9am-1pm Sat-Sun
  • BusIt - P: 0800 205 305
  • Hamilton Taxis - P: 0800 477 477

Accommodation

The Smith family (including a Te Araroa walker!) are trail angels offering campsite accommodation in North Hamilton, near the trail. Contact 027 3233 787.

There are many options available at a variety of levels, including the below:

Detour to campsite

Resupply

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Waipā Walk

Route

This walk uses footpaths, back roads & state highway (SH) road margins, pasture and river esplanade.

From the Taitua Arbortum, head west on Taitua Road, turn left/south onto Howden Road and continue straight ahead until it runs into O'Dea Road. At the end of O'Dea Road, continue over the stile - up the steps and onto the track for 2km to Walsh Road. Turn right/north onto Walsh Road and follow this (including a 90-degree turn to the left) out to SH39, turning right/north onto SH39 and walking 1.5km to Whatawhata village, where walkers can get refreshments at the petrol station and tavern.

Walk west on SH23 through the settlement of Whatawhata, over the Waipā River bridge and take the first left (south) into Te Pahū Road. Here you will leave the road to walk on the true left bank of the Waipā River.

Look for a track behind the church, on the river side of the fence, and follow the orange markers. The track runs through pasture and swamp to a footbridge and in some places goes along a farm race - please, always give way to cattle.

At one point, the track heads back onto Te Pahū Road and across a road bridge (Paratawa Stream) before orange markers lead back onto the river reserve. Then it's back onto Te Pahū Road to the junction with Old Mountain Road.

Walk 4.5km southwest on Old Mountain Road (well past the quarry) to the start of the Kapamahunga Walkway.

Kapamahunga Walkway - 10.5km / 3-4 hours

Please note - this route closes 1st August to 10th November for lambing, please walk 7km south on Te Pahu Road, then a further 5km west on Limeworks Loop Road to re-connect to the route

From Old Mountain Road, follow the white and/or orange markers southwards over farmland in the Kapamahunga Range. Note the entry point off Old Mountain Road is a little obscure.

After 3.5km, you pass a rural airstrip to the west and the end of Waikoha Road to the east. Keep following the markers south for another 3km. As you come downhill to the river, continue further along the northwest side of the river, skirting behind the limeworks, before coming out at the junction of Fillery Road and Limeworks Loop Road.

Follow the road southwest until reaching the DOC picnic area by the Kāniwhaniwha Stream.

To access Karamu Walkway from the Karamu end, turn off Limeworks Loop Road on to Fillery Road, cross the one-lane bridge then follow the signs along a farm track to the carpark.

Kapamahunga Walkway

Note - this route closes 1 August to 10 November for lambing. Please walk 7km south on Te Pahu Road, then a further 5km west on Limeworks Loop Road to re-connect to the route.

Potential hazards:

  • Vehicles on road or track
  • Farming operations - please give way on all farm races.
  • River crossings - Never cross flooded rivers - No access along Waipā River banks if in flood.
  • Open drains
  • Few water sources

No dogs allowed.

Whatawhata

Accommodation

Backyard Bar and Eatery at the main Whatawhata SH39/SH23 intersection - P: 07 8298804 or 021 2846237 (Roger) - E: info@thebackyardbar.co.nz Free campsite with showers and toilet or cabin with bunk beds for $15pp. A range of food and drinks available in the Eatery and friendly locals that are happy to chat with walkers. Owners live on site.

Karamu Valley Lodge - 207 Old Mountain Rd, Karamu, Hamilton - P: 07 829 3304 or M: 027 537 2892 - E: heather@karamuvalleylodge.co.nz - Pick-ups and drop-offs are available.

Hideaway Whatawhata - 47 Bowman Road, Whatawhata - P 027 3491114.
email on hideaway.whatawhata@gmail.com. Self contained private B&B studio accomodation with detached bathroom (shower and toilet). Separate building on property with 2 other houses. Sleeps 2. Well appointed, comfy, warm, retreat from city. Free wifi. Heat pump. King size bed. Tea, coffee, toast and spreads provided. Contact Marie Walker

Resupply

Whatawhata Service Centre (fuel and basic groceries), 1335 Horotiu Road, Hamilton - Corner SH 23 and SH 39 - P: 07 829 8225

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Pirongia Traverse

Route

This traverse of Pirongia Mountain starts with the Department of Conservation's Nikau Walk - an easy stroll south from the Kāniwhaniwha carpark, following the stream through a forest of plantings. Shortly after leaving the farmland and just before a circular walk through beautiful native forest, you take the Tahuanui Track leading towards the southeast. Here, you will find a picnic/campsite clearing with toilets and the last opportunity for swimming before starting the ascent to the summit.

The Tahuanui Track then climbs steadily up a ridge through stands of tawa to the summit ridge where several tracks converge on the 959m summit of Pirongia. So far, this should have taken roughly 4-5 hours. 30 minutes beyond the summit in a westerly direction is the Pahautea Hut. It is generally a good idea to stay overnight in this hut and continue south the following day.

From the hut, you continue westward on the new Noel Sandford boardwalk, following the Hihikiwi Track with good views to the south. 1km below Hihikiwi Peak and about 600m before Te Akeohikopiro Peak, you take a new spur track heading off in a southwestern direction. Follow this all the way down to Pirongia West Road.

Potential hazards

  • Poisons & traps
  • Small stream crossings
  • If the weather is bad, it's advised to stay in the hut until it clears
  • Few water sources
  • Hut water may need to be treated.

 

No dogs allowed.

Weather on Pirongia

Weather conditions can change rapidly, especially at higher altitudes. Always carry a change of clothing, wet weather gear and sufficient food to cater for any emergency.

Accommodation

Bartlam's Bush Homestay - four-berth caravan, tent sites, hot showers, homegrown organic meals, laundry, and shuttle options. Please enquire: P 0272943652 or E lynnbartlam1@gmail.com

Pahautea Hut is the only hut in the park. Sleeps 20 people on two platform bunks with mattresses.

It has a water supply (recommend you treat the water) but no heating or cooking facilities, so you should take a portable cooker.

There are also campsites and a camping shelter at the hut. Fires are not permitted.

What to expect on a tramping track:

  • The track is mostly unformed with steep, rough or muddy sections
  • Suitable for people with good fitness. Moderate to high-level backcountry skills and experience, including navigation and survival skills required
  • The track has markers, poles or rock cairns. Expect unbridged stream and river crossings
  • Tramping/hiking boots required.

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Pirongia to Waitomo

Route

This is a sometimes steep, rough tramping track with some backcountry road walking. Please respect track closure during lambing - 1st August to 1st October each year.

  • Potential hazards: Vehicles; Farming operations - Leave gates as you find them; River crossings - never cross flooded rivers - one stream before connection with Ngatapuwae Road is dangerous after heavy rain; Respect private land; No dogs, camping or fires.

From the Omanawa Stream, follow Pirongia West Road in a southerly direction. After 2km, you'll reach the intersection with Pekanui Road. Cross over it and continue south/southwesterly along Te Rauamoa Road. After 5.5km, you'll reach SH 31/Kāwhia Road. Turn southeast (left) and follow it 2.7km and turn southwest (right) into Kaimango Road. Follow Kaimango Road for 7.5km to reach the intersection with Honikiwi Road. Veer west (right) and walk 50m to the small carpark on the south side of the road.

Cross the stile onto a formed farm road and follow the orange markers. Then 2km after the rural airstrip, look out for double orange markers. It is not obvious but the track goes over a stile here (while the farm road continues on) and into a bush track on an old timber trail.

Keep following the orange markers over high point #405 and past #513 – Ōmarāma, and through to a woolshed near the north end of Māhoe Road.

Take the gravel Māhoe Road which extends beyond the woolshed, and keep heading south 500m past a Department of Conserrvation sign; "Ōmarāma Scenic Reserve".

Immediately south of the Māhoe Road/Orongo Road intersection, there is a stile where you head east onto farmland.

The route heads due east following a fenceline, with a couple of up and downs and small waterway crossings, however these can be crossed easily.

1km in, you will encounter a grass airstrip. It will likely not be in use, however, please take caution. If the airstrip is in use, do not cross until invited, please note as below:

This airstrip is a high-risk area. If the airstrip, and/or the fertiliser shed adjacent, is in use - wait where the signs indicate, attract the attention of the site manager, and await their instruction to cross. 

After crossing the airstrip, continue along the marked fenceline some 400m, which eventually joins a graded track. Follow the track 700m until a stile takes you across a fence and into a neighbouring property.  The route continues to follow a fenceline 1.5km through cut scrub until crossing another stile by the edge of more mature forest.

A lovely walk through the forest follows - navigate carefully the first 500m along the ridge, then it is slippery when wet on the downhill slopes. There is a crossing of the Moakurarua Stream partway along the track. In "normal" weather, the stream will be no deeper than knee height but can raise after heavy rain. Be prepared to wait it out and if that's the case, it is recommended that you head north back along the track to higher ground.

Once you are over the stream, there is a gentle uphill before entering a track - lookout for the markers on the right. The track is based on the old logging routes, note the hand-formed rock cuttings. Occasionally you'll get a good view out across the forest.

Follow the markers through to the northern end of Ngatapuwae Road.

Walk (approx. 2.5km) the length of Ngatapuwae Road (south/southeasterly) into Te Anga Road. Down the hill and just before the roundabout intersection, it joins up (to the right) with DOC's Waitomo Walkway which follows beside the Waitomo Stream through a mixture of shady forest and open farmland. Turn east and follow the track into Waitomo Village. (Note: The Waitomo Walkway crosses Te Anga Road, so it is possible to walk the final 1km to Waitomo Village along the road).

Conditions

Potential hazards: Vehicles; Farming operations - Leave gates as you find them; River crossings - never cross flooded rivers - one stream before connection with Ngatapuwae Road is dangerous after heavy rain; Respect private land; No dogs, camping or fires.

This airstrip is a high-risk area. If the airstrip, and/or the fertiliser shed adjacent, is in use - wait where the signs indicate, attract the attention of the site manager, and await their instruction to cross. 
Do not cross until invited.

This is a sometimes steep, rough tramping track with some backcountry road walking. Please respect track closure during lambing - 1st August to 1st October each year.

 

South of Pirongia

Bartlam's Bush Homestay - four-berth caravan, tent sites, hot showers, homegrown organic meals, laundry, and shuttle options. Please enquire: P 0272943652 or E lynnbartlam1@gmail.com

Waitomo

Note: that just before Ngatapuwae Road (when tramping south) you have to wade the Moakurarua Stream. The crossing here is unsafe when in flood, so do not attempt the Māhoe Road to Ngatapuwae Road when there's been persistent rain in the area.

Waitomo Village/Caves

General information

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre - 39 Waitomo Caves Rd, Waitomo - P: 07 878 8227 or 0800 456 922 freephone. Also includes a Restaurant and café.

Getting there/away

InterCity - P: 07 348 0366 - E: info@intercity.co.nz

Accommodation

  • YHA Waitomo - 600 Waitomo Caves Road, Waitomo P: 07 878 7649 E: waitomo@yha.co.nz
  • Kiwi pākā backpackers - Hotel Access Rd, Waitomo - P: 07 878 3395 - E: waitomobackpackers@xtra.co.nz
  • Waitomo Top 10 Holiday Park - 12 TWaitomo Village Road, Waitomo - P: 0508 498 666 freephone or 07 878 7639 - E: stay@waitomopark.co.nz
  • Waitomo Caves Hotel - Hotel Access Rd, Waitomo - P: 07 878 8204 - E: info@waitomocaveshotel.co.nz
  • Hamilton Tomo Group - 155 Te Anga Rd, on the Trail route 1.5km before Waitomo Village - E: info@htg.org.nz Friendly caving club hut with plenty of bunk rooms and space to camp. Hot showers, kitchen and large communal sitting room with wood burner and large deck. There is also space on the grounds for camping and outbuildings for drying gear. A warm hut to weather a wet day or just hang out in the sun with the cavers.  $15pp/night for bunkbed, $7.50pp/night camping - both include shower/kitchen. The club trips are held 1st Saturday of each month, email ahead if you'd like to join the trip - some equipment can be hired.

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Pehitawa Track

Route

This is a medium-grade tramp, largely on farms and in the bush but includes a small portion of road margin. The track is steep sometimes. Expect hills with 150m ascents and descents. It pauses on top of high karsts to gaze across the King Country's low agriculture and tumbled limestone hills that rise to formidable volcanic summits – north to Pirongia, east to Pureora, and south to Ruapehu.

From Waitomo Village, take the Hotel Access Road past the Tavern and School.Before the cattle stop, climb the stile on the LHS and follow the track completed in 2020 along a section of  the Waipa Faultline,which runs north south through the district. Here Limestone  is uplifted on the western side. Cross Fullerton Roadyou see a stile on the east (lefthand) side.

Cross Fullerton Road  then a  stile and follow the orange markers SE across open farmland, then up through a small gate and climb a hand-formed track. You'll pass some enormous boulders - these are thought to have come from the Mangakino explosion - some 60km away!
Once up and over the ridge, the track then descends steeply through bush - this is very slippery when wet, do take care - and exits onto more farmland where you'll again follow markers SE along the fenceline, climbing again through bush and onto a ridge. Climb through regenerating bush and the track takes a 90deg turn towards the west, running through what Te Araroa veterans will remember (fondly?) as the infamous "Te Kuiti Tunnel of Gorse" - now nicely opened up and easily passable.

Exiting the bush, head over a stile and follow the marked fence to the next stile; then continue along the fenceline - now on the other side of it - and drop down to a farm race (giving way to any animals found on it). This is the farm of John Were. Look for a stile on the NE (lefthand) side after crossing a farm bridge over a stream and then head for a suspension bridge over the Mangapu River.

Once over the suspension bridge, the track heads through Pehitawa Forest  (Queen Elizabeth II Trust-covenanted land and one of the finest remaining stands of Kahikatea trees). Follow markers up a ridgeline to a fence near the top of the hill and over a stile to Oparure Rd.

The following section is closed for lambing 1 Aug – 1 Oct each year (it can be avoided by taking a detour part way i.e. walking east Oparure Road,South on Highway 3, east onto Te Kumi Station Road and then South on Sommerville drive. A bridge past the bowling club will get you into the main street of Te Kuiti)


Cross over a stile on the southern side of Oparure Rd onto private farmland. At the top of a hill, are 2 stiles separated by a farm race. Just 50m NE of here is a viewing point of historical pohutukawa and holly trees (see information below).

Beyond these stiles, you will cross a bridged stream, another stile and then veer to the west (right). Partly up the next paddock, past a small stand of trees is the next marker & stile onto a farm track. 

On the southern side of the track, cross over another stile to get back onto farmland and head south to trig point 263, then turn sharply E/NE to descend through the  Brook Park Reserve trails. 

From Colin Brook Place, walk 1.5km to Rora st, the centre of Te Kuiti township.

Note two fine statues - a tribute to Sir Colin Meads (one of NZ's finest rugby players) adjacent to the railway station, and the shearing statue at the south end of Rora St.

 West of the Statue Te Tokanganui a noho  can be seen, this historic marae was built in 1873 under the director of the Maori leader and prophet Te Kooti

Conditions

  • Vehicles on road or track
  • Farming operations Move steadily and quietly through livestock.
  • Open drains
  • Track exposed to sun, wind or cold
  • Steep, muddy and slippery in parts.

Background / Historical Information

The history behind the historic British holly and Māori pōhutukawa trees:

In 1883 Māori chief Mahuki seized a railway surveying party, Wilson Hursthouse and others. Mahuki remained furious at Hursthouse’s role in sacking the peaceful village of Parihaka. The Pākehā peered from their prison shed to see Māori writing their names on pigs before slitting the pig throats. Around then, the door of the cell crashed open and there stood their rescuer, Te Kooti, himself an outlaw. Whitinui Joseph, great grandfather of the All Black Jamie Joseph, and a kinsman of Mahuki, celebrated the peace by planting two trees - a British holly and a Māori pōhutukawa - on the spot where this happened.

Brook Park offers a country setting with panoramic views of Te Kūiti. The park is used as a farming operation by the Te Kūiti High School Charitable Trust, but pedestrian access is allowed at all times. Care must be taken not to disturb the sheep, especially during lambing.

Noted tree collections are scattered throughout the Park, i.e. Black Walnuts, Pinus Radiata tree crops, Rhododendrums including native trees such as Kauri and Rimu. In addition a recently developed Memorial Arbor offers a spectacular array of colourful trees in a peaceful setting.

Te Kūiti

General information

Te Kūiti i-Site Visitor Information Centre - 160 Rōra St, Te Kūiti - P: 07 878 8077

DOC Maniapoto Area Office - 78 Taupiri Street, Te Kūiti - P: 07 878 1050 - E: maniapotoao@doc.govt.nz

Getting there/away

Accommodation

Hunts Farm Backpackers - Emma + John Hunt - 3km from information centre, 42 Mangarino Rd, Te Kūiti - They offer pick and drop off service as part of their business. Text on 021 402407 P: 07 878 6697 email huntsfarmbackpackers@xtra.co.nz - very TA friendly and happy to help!!!

Motel Te Kūiti - Cnr Carroll and King Sts, SH3, Te Kūiti - P: 07 878 3448 - E: info@moteltekuiti.co.nz

Panorama Motor Inn - 59 Awakino Rd, Te Kūiti SH 3 - P: 021 128 6380 - E: office@panoramamotorinn.co.nz

Waitomo Lodge - 62 Te Kumi Rd Te Kūiti - P: 07 878 0003 - E: info@waitomo-lodge.co.nz

Private Accommodation -Sue Sands - text on 021 1049 707 camping $18 pp per night, beds are $25 - plenty of hot water and use of the washing machine!!

Resupply

Te Kūiti Superette - 205 Rōra St, Te Kūiti - P: 07 878 8333

New World Supermarket - 39 Rora Street, Te Kūiti - P: 07 878 8072  Open 7.00am - 8.00pm Daily

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Te Kūiti to Pureora

Route

Mangaokewa Reserve Track - 3km / 1 hour

  • Potential hazards; Vehicles; Avoid this track when the river is in flood.

From the shearing statue, continue south along Waitete Road for just over 1km, then turn left onto Ahoroa Ford West Road, taking care as it passes through operational areas with heavy vehicles. Head alongside a wire mesh fence then turns right down by the river (without crossing the river).

Follow the Mangaokewa River along, heading upstream. The track skirts the Waitete Sawmill, and Graymont Limeworks (with a furnace producing burnt lime for roadworks, and also producing lime ground for many uses, such as toothpaste and topdressing). You will pass an old cement works, then cross over the river on a vehicle bridge.

Once across the river, the track follows a disused quarry road to an abandoned lime quarry site, with pipeline and wooden towers remnants (limeworks and lime quarrying is a traditional Te Kūiti industry). The track ascends beyond the quarry to an elevation of 100m, with good views back across Te Kūiti and up the valley ahead. (Te Kūiti High School students built the picnic table at this viewpoint, along with the footbridges across the small creeks).

The track enters bush for the last kilometre, passing one pretty waterfall en route. Cross the stream via the suspension bridge to reach Mangaokewa Reserve.

Mangaokewa River Track - 15km / 5-6 hours

In the Mangaokewa Reserve, this track follows the Mangaokewa River throughout. 

From the north end, be aware that other tracks lead away on both sides of the river, so cross the swing bridge to the true left of the river - i.e. the Waiteti Viaduct carpark side of the river - and continue walking from the southern end of the carpark.

The first 2.5km of the bush is groomed and nearly predator-free thanks to the Mangaokewa Reserve Trust, which has allowed to release native birds in the area. You will then pass a huge kahikatea tree, and through the riverside bush may glimpse stalactites encrusting the far edge of the limestone gorge. The trail then crosses a fence which was put in to keep sheep out of the reserve.

Just beyond here, you’ll see one of the best sights of the walk - primaeval forest on the far side of the river - the unfarmed side. The track stays on farmland, passes an abandoned long-drop toilet, slides through tōtara groves and has some great picnic spots on the way through. There are one or two steep slopes you may need to inch down slowly, so please take care in this area, particularly when wet underfoot. It enters the shade of pine and eucalyptus forest near the southern end, then follows a farm track that takes you through to Mangaokewa North Road (Note: there'll be a gate on a grass median track which evolves into a road).

  • Note: If you are wanting to be picked up here, you'll need to have pre-organised transport out - it's a long way from anywhere and there is usually no traffic.

Continue southeast on Mangaokewa Road and follow it in an easterly direction for approx 8.5km. It'll turn northwards for 2km, then turn easterly again (at the intersection with Waipā Valley Road on the west side). Keep following it (it starts to turn south) for another 12km to meet up with SH30. Turn left/east onto SH30 and walk for 8km. Turn off the highway onto Maraeroa Road on the south side. After 1.5km, take the road leading east/northeast for another 2km until reaching DOC's Pureora Forest Park Headquarters.

Conditions

  • Vehicles on road or track - take care on roads
  • Farming operations
  • Forestry operations can mean occasional closures
  • Avoid when river is in flood

Mangaokewa Reserve Track

Mangaokewa Reserve is a pleasant place for picnics, overnight camping, bush walks, swimming and other passive recreational activities. Public toilets are available within the picnic area.

Mangaokewa North camping

Some excellent local landowners (Sam and Laura) have established a campsite where the route passes through their property, approximately 200m N of the Mangaokewa North road-end. There is space for camping, a picnic table, toilet, water supply and basic shelter. There is a $5pp charge which will help with their upkeep, payable into an honesty box there so please carry some cash from Te Kūiti (or from Taumarunui for NOBOs).

Pureora

General information

DOC Pureora Base - 198 Barryville Road, Pureora (off State Highway 30. It is 20 kms east of Bennydale) P: 07 878 1080 E - pureora@doc.govt.nz

Accommodation

DOC's accommodation options include Ngaherenga campsite and the Pureora Cabins (self-contained) in the beautiful surroundings of Pureora Forest Park (which lies between Te Kūiti, Taumaranui and Lake Taupō and is easily accessed by SH 30 and SH 32). P - 021 064 3178 E - pureoracabins@gmail.com 

Resupply

There is no retail shop or petrol station in Pureora.

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Pureora Forest - The Timber Trail

Route

500m east of DOC's Pureora Forest Headquarters is the Ngaherenga campsite, halfway between the two is the entry point to the Timber Trail.

It is recommended you plan to walk between formal accommodation locations on this route - Ngaherenga to Bog Inn Hut (20km), to Piropiro Flats campsite (18km), to #10 campsite (21km), to the campsite at the Ōngarue terminus of the Timber Trail (17km), this will take you four days. Then into Taumarunui the following day (26km). Trail surfacing is good (it is also a cycleway) so faster walkers may like to do big days, however you should be aiming to stay at these locations.

The Timber Trail passes through magnificent podocarp forests of rimu, tōtara, miro, mātai and kahikatea, as well as some exotic forestry and more open vegetation, offering extensive views of the surrounding landscape.

Utilising historic bush tramways, old bulldozer and haul roads, the track features 35 bridges, including 8 large suspension bridges (the longest being 141m) and showcases the historic Ōngarue Spiral, a marvel of engineering.

Commence along the Timber Trail on well-graded track for approx 9km through the Pikiariki Ecological Area before momentarily leaving the Timber Trail to take the Toitoi Track up and over the summit of Mt Pureora (a 1hr30 deviation) to take advantage of some of the King Country's most panoramic views of Lake Taupō, Mt Ruapehu and the Kaimanawa Ranges.

Descending from the summit and rejoining the Timber Trail, the route again follows the cycleway to the turn-off for the Bog Inn Hut. Leave the Timber Trail here, and shortly after, a short track will lead to Bog Inn Hut for those wishing to sleep there. When leaving Bog Inn Hut, a short connecting path will put you back onto the Timber Trail, without the need to backtrack.

Heading south, you'll soon cross the first of the spectacular suspension bridges on this route, and another shortly after. The faint of heart shouldn't look down!

It's largely downhill from there to bathrooms at Harrisons Rest Area, then a further 12km to Piropiro Flats campsite. 

Leaving Piropiro Flats, you'll climb through tawa and tānekaha forest to the 141m Maramataha Bridge which will take the breath away. Further onwards, you will come to a cleared area known as ‘the terminus’, which was the most northern end of the 1950's Ellis and Burnand tramline. There are toilets at Mystery Creek and the #11 Camp, and shortly after you'll be at the #10 Camp, also with toilets.

From #10 Camp its mostly downhill all the way, with the Mangakahukahu Bridge and remarkable Ōngarue Spiral the highlights of the day's walk.

At Bennett Road, a campsite has been purpose-built for Te Araroa, with plenty of space to camp, a shelter and a toilet in the adjacent carpark. You should look to stay here then walk the 26km into Taumarunui the following day. There are no appropriate locations to freedom camp en route to Taumarunui.

From Bennett Road, follow the Ngakonui-Ōngarue Road west, which runs onto the Ōngarue Back Road which is the route towards Taumarunui, some 24km away. Just north of Taumarunui you'll reach a roundabout - continue straight onto Golf Road and follow it for 2.5km turning right/south onto Short Street, then left/east into Hākiaha Street (SH4), the main street of Taumarunui - a supermarket, food outlets, bank, pharmacy and more are available on this street.

Conditions

  • Vehicles on road or track
  • Poisons & traps
  • Forestry operations
  • Small stream crossings
  • Weather extremes

Seasonal restrictions

Hunters with dogs or guns may use the Timber Trail for access to the backcountry. Numbers of hunters are especially high during the stag roaring months of March and April, and during spring (September, October and November)

Dog access

Dogs require a DOC permit. Contact the relevant DOC office to obtain a permit.

Accommodation

  • DOC Huts in the Pureora Forest Park

    Bog Inn Hut - 4 bunks, mattresses and heating - Topo50 maps - Grid reference: NZTM2000, E1828988, N5726201

    Note: Hut tickets must be purchased from DOC offices prior to your tramp.

  • Timber Trail Lodge - located adjacent to the Trail at Piropiro - P: 0800 8856343 - E: stay@timbertraillodge.co.nz - Dorm and private accommodation, includes dinner and breakfast.
  • Camp Epic - located at the 40km marker on the Timber Trail. Tent site and glamping accommodation options. Communal kitchen/dining and the best hot showers in NZ. Breakfast included in your stay. Ph 0220237958 or visit www.thetimbertrail.nz 

 

Taumarunui

Accommodation

Alexender Spa Motels - www.alexandermotel.co.nz Check- out time 10am, 50 metres to RSA and restaurants, 14 Studio and 2 Family Studio Units. 6 Marae Street Taumaranui

Forgotten World Adventures Motel- is directly across the road from New World, the BP, McDonalds and Pizza store in Taumarunui. The number is 0800 7245 2278 and its website is http://www.forgottenworldmotel.co.nz/

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42 Traverse

Route

From Hākiaha Street (SH4) in Taumarunui, head south (Turaki Street and Morero Terrace) to cross the Whanganui River and get onto Hikumutu Road for a long but pleasant walk through the countryside. Follow Hikumutu Road through the small settlement of Hikumutu, past a brief encounter with the Whanganui River, then east to Ōwhango. You'll join Kawautahi Road just before you get to Ōwhango, follow that east 1km to SH4. Then walk north 200m on SH4 and turn right/east into Omatane Road on the southern edge of Ōwhango. Follow Omatane Road, Onga Street and Whakapapa Bush Road to the start of the 42 Traverse. It is 27km from Hākiaha Street in Taumarunui to Ōwhango.

42 Traverse (including Waione/Cokers Track) - 35km / 1.5 days

This track follows the 42 Traverse four-wheel drive road for the first 22km - in wet conditions this can be very muddy/slippery. This branches off along the Waione/Cokers DOC track, then on to Access Road #3 for a short while before a deviation northeast past the historical landmark, Te Pōrere Redoubt, before joining SH47. A further 1.5km north, there is the junction with SH46 where there is accommodation.

(You may choose to walk down the entire 42 Traverse exiting on to SH47 6km further south. If you do so, turn left/north onto SH47 and continue north 9km to reconnect with Te Araroa at the Te Pōrere Redoubt exit onto SH47.)

A 7.5km road walk from the exit of Access Road #3 to the turnoff for the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (a further 1km up to the carpark) is along sealed highway, broken only by a small settlement near the junction of SH46 and SH47 that has some accommodation.

Although not the official Te Araroa route, there are multiple activities to choose from in Taumarunui:

  • Do a day trip from Taumarunui to experience the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, then kayak/canoe the upper reaches of the Whanganui River to Whakahoro and on to Pipiriki/Whanganui River

Or

  • Hire a mountain bike to ride the 42 Traverse track, there are companies who will meet you at the other end to deliver your pack and collect the bike

Conditions

  • The 42 Traverse has a variety of users - share the track with care and consideration.
  • Take care following rainfall as stream levels rise quickly. Only cross waterways after checking they are safe.
  • Dogs with a Department of Conservation permit for recreational hunting or management purposes only.
  • 4WD vehicles are not permitted from 1 May – 30 November.
  • The T42 mountain biking, running and walking event is held annually in early May.

Transport to trailhead

There are several shuttle companies providing morning pick-ups from nearby towns and delivery to the track start, i.e National Park, Ōhakune, Tūrangi and Taupō. They include:

Accommodation (Ōwhango)

Canoe Adventures (the old Ōwhango Hotel) - P: 0800 2 CANOE/07 8954854 - E: info@owhangoadventures.co.nz - full range of options including family, double, single rooms, dorm rooms and camping.

Forest Lodge - Omaki Road, Ōwhango - P: 07 8954854 - E: reception@forest-lodge.co.nz - backpacker accommodation

Accommodation (end of route)

Tongariro Family Holiday Park - State Highway 47, Tongariro - P: 07 386 8062 - Camping, cabins and units.

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