Welcome to an occasional blog about walking and hiking tracks, mainly in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Coromandel regions of New Zealand. I had been exploring backroads on motorbikes for a number of years, before starting to do day walks of up to about 5 to 6 hours duration, mainly on DoC tracks. Motorbike riding days are more or less over now.
This blog will describe the tracks walked, their difficulty level, distance walked, time taken, facilities available, and will include some photos from the walks. Many of the walks also have a description on the DoC or other web site, and links to these descriptions will be posted. Clicking on a photo in a blog post will usually display a full-size version of the photo. Click on the back button to return to the post.
A directory of walks classified by general area can be found here.
The National Wetland Trust is developing a National Wetland Discovery Centre at Lake Serpentine/Lake Rotopiko next to Ohaupo Road/SH3 between Ohaupo and Te Awamutu. An area of about 9.5 hectares, including Lake Rotopiko and a wetland forest area, is enclosed in predator-proof fence. There is a well-formed track encircling Lake Rotopiko with some activities for children along the way, and a track through the kahikatea forest adjacent to the lake. The Department of Conservation is also involved, together with the Toyota Kiwi Guardians organisation.
A parking area for visitors to Lake Rotopiko is accessible directly off Ohaupo Rd/SH3, but due to a wire rope median barrier the access is only for vehicles travelling south from Ohaupo. The entry, through a gate which is closed at night, is unmarked and is located between McFall Rd and Jary Rd. There is a turning bay on Jary Rd for those heading north after a visit to Lake Rotopiko, as only a left turn is possible when leaving the carpark.
The walking track through the Kotukutuku Gully is a short walking track, about 600 metres long, running parallel to Little Waihi Road between Hapimana Road and Whenuariri/Kiokio Places. The track is well formed, with steps at and near the eastern end only. The gully has historical significance, and the restoration work has been done by volunteers with planting of native plant species throughout the gully. There are no designated parking areas by the track end points, but it is possible to park a few vehicles by the Hapimana Road entrance.
Mount Tarawera is a volcano in the Rotorua area, part of a chain of volcanoes stretching from Whakaari/White Island in the north, to Ruapehu in the south. It was the site of the largest and most deadly eruption in New Zealand in at least the last 250 years. It erupted in the early hours of June 10, 1886, causing the death of about 120 people and leaving a layer of ash and mud over a large area. Details of the eruption can be found on the New Zealand History web site, and on Wikipedia.
One of the tribes or iwi displaced from the area by the eruption, Ngati Rangitihi, are now guardians or kaitiaki of the mountain, and access to the summit is restricted. Ngati Rangitihi marae is located at Matata, and there are Ngati Rangitihi farmlands at Rerewhakaaitu, near the base of Mt Tarawera.
Old Reservoir Road off SH2 about 1.5 km east of Paeroa is a short road, partly tarsealed, and partly a narrow gravel road. At the north-eastern end of the formed road an old ‘paper road’ continues on from a locked gate and past the old water reservoir dam. The road has once been drivable as far as the dam, but from there it continues on as an unmarked tramping track. The track does not entirely follow the paper road, which apparently continues all the way to Waitekauri Road, and there are no indications that it has ever been formed as a road.
This walk only covers about 2.5 km of the track, starting at the current formed end of Old Reservoir Road, past the old reservoir dam and a small lake to an old tin shed or hut before returning. Being unmarked the track was difficult to find in places, although there were signs that it is still being used as a tramping track. From the dam the track rises quite steeply with an initial elevation about 40 metres above sea level and with the highest points about 315 metres a.s.l.
Although most of Te Rae o Papamoa Track in the Papamoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park has been covered in a previous post an interesting extension to the track is now shown on some of the information panels within the park. It provides an alternative to the Karangaumu Summit Track for a walk to the summit, and since it can easily connect to the Valley and Puriri Tracks and on to Maraeroa Track it can provide a longer and more varied walk within the park area.
This walk, which starts at the carpark on Poplar Lane off Te Puke Highway, takes the Karangaumu Summit Track up to the start of Te Rae o Papamoa Track, then follows this track and a service road up to the summit. On the way back it branches off at the Papamoa Pa site and follows the longer route back to the service road and the track back to the carpark. A total distance of about 7 km for a total time of 2 hours including time to visit the pa sites along the way.
There are a number of walking tracks in the Papamoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park near Tauranga, but several of these are currently unmarked and only shown on aerial photos at various locations within the park. One of the longest and most varied of these tracks, the Maraeroa Track, is only shown on the information panel by the carpark on Poplar Lane, off Te Puke Highway (the old SH2). The most used track is the Karangaumu Summit Track, and the lower part of this track also provides access to the other tracks within the park.
The tracks described here are the Maraeroa , Valley and Puriri tracks. Maraeroa Track branches off the summit track and returns to the summit track about 150 metres further up. Valley Track and Puriri Track branch off Maraeroa Track and can also connect with Te Rae O Papamoa Track. For an older description of the summit track and part of Te Rae O Papamoa Track see the previous post Papamoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park.
Te Ara O Wairakei in Papamoa, also known as the Papamoa Drainage Reserve or Papamoa Stormwater Reserve, is a collection of reserves in Papamoa running parallel with the oceanfront, with cycleways/walkways running through them. Currently Te Ara O Wairakei is divided into two completely separate parts. The longer part runs for about 6 km from near Parton Road to Pacific View Road. The shorter part in Papamoa East runs for about 1.5 km from near Mandalay Key to Gibson Place.
The part from Parton Road to Pacific View Road has been described in two previous posts – Papamoa Beach, Wairakei, Topaz Drive Reserves and Papamoa Drainage Reserve – Domain Rd to Pacific View Rd before the name change to Te Ara O Wairakei. This post describes the separate part of Te Ara O Wairakei in Papamoa East.
Lake Kainui is a peat lake of about 25 hectares in the Horsham Downs area of Waikato, east of Ngaruawahia and north of Hamilton. It is one of a series of lakes in the area, and is also known as Lake D or Lake Rotoaira. Lakes A, B and C are nearby. A walkway around the lake was opened in 2018, and public access to the lake itself and Lake Kainui Reserve was arranged by the Waikato District Council. A short access road off Lake Road leads to a parking area and the reserve. There is also a boat ramp and a toilet.
Various activities are permitted in the reserve and on the lake, but some activities require a permit and access to the boat ramp requires a key. The reserve may be closed to the public in May, during the duck shooting season. The walkway around the perimeter of the lake is about 3.1 km long, mostly well formed with a gravel surface, although there are also areas of grass. There are no steps and only the gentlest of gradients, with an elevation difference of only a metre or two along the entire track.
White Pine Bush, adjacent to SH2 between Awakeri and Taneatua, is a 4.5 hectare reserve containing one of the last stands of lowland kahikatea forest in the area. The trees in the forest area are mainly kahikatea, tawa, pukatea, and nikau. A bridge across Waioho Stream and a 250-metre long, level track suitable also for wheelchairs, has been formed as a loop through the forest. Information panels show details of the forest, the birds, and the predators.
A parking area is accessible directly from SH2, between Awakeri and Taneatua, and about 20km south of Whakatane. There are no toilets or other facilities at the site. A gumboot fence forms part of the boundary to the carpark. The walk can easily be done in 10 minutes, including time for reading the information panels. It would be suitable as a short break for travellers driving through SH2. Continue reading
The Windows Walk in the Karangahake Gorge is a short walk through an area with relics from a gold mining period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The walk can be done as a loop, with the windows section in one direction and the Crown Tramway Track in the other direction, both of them running parallel to the Waitawheta River, near the junction with Ohinemuri River. Numerous information panels describe some of the history of the area, with photos of the extensive buildings which once were located here.
The walk is easily accessible from a parking area off State Highway 2 at the western end of Karangahake Gorge. Toilets are located by the parking area. Information about the walk can be found on the Department of Conservation web site. A torch is very strongly recommended for walking through the mine tunnel with the windows looking into the Waitawheta Gorge. The Crown Tramway Track may be closed during heavy rain or when there have been rockfalls, and the underground pumphouse mentioned on the DoC web site has been closed off for several years now. Continue reading