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.
Pipiwharauroa Trail is a walking and cycling trail near Raglan, starting from Kawhia Road near Waireinga/Bridal Veil Falls, and ending at the Te Uku Wind Farm. For a large part of the trail it uses a wide gravel road used for access to the wind farm, and for the remainder it uses old farm tracks. The last 1.5 km or so is the roughest part of the trail. The trail passes through actively farmed private land, so dogs are definitely not allowed.
Te Uku Wind Farm is a 28-turbine wind farm, situated on private farmland on the Wharauroa Plateau. It can generate 64.4 MW of power. Construction commenced in 2009 and the wind farm was operational in 2010. It was officially opened in February 2011. Information about the wind farm, including photos from the construction phase, can be found on the Meridian Energy web site. There is a lookout in Te Uku, on SH23 between Hamilton and Raglan, where part of the wind farm can be viewed from a distance. Continue reading →
Waireinga/Bridal Veil Falls is a 55-metre high, spectacular waterfall in the Raglan area of Waikato. The falls are well signposted and accessible from SH23, along Te Mata Road and continuing about 4 km along Kawhia Road. There is a parking area alongside Kawhia Road, and a wide track with an easy gradient leads from the parking area, past DoC toilets and a picnic area, to the top of the falls. At the top of the falls there are two viewing platforms, one looking straight down the waterfall and the other looking across to the whole waterfall.
The easy track to the top of the waterfalls is about 500 metres long, and follows the Pakoka River through native forest. The track from the top to the bottom of the falls is steep, with 261 formed steps. About halfway down there is another viewing platform, and at the bottom there is a bridge across Pakoka River with direct views of the falls, and a shelter with information panels. Information about the falls can be found on the DoC web site. Dogs are not allowed at the falls, and the water is not suitable for swimming.
The Puketoromiro Pa site in the Kopurererua Valley has been cleared of the eucalyptus trees growing on it, and a set of steps crossing over the summit have been constructed, with a connecting walkway/cycleway from the existing path through the valley. Currently the site has not officially been opened, and there are currently no information panels by the site. But the gates have been opened and people are accessing the site.
The only information about the new walk across the pa site is apparently an article on the SunLive web site, which has some historical information and expects the completion with interpretation panels and replanted native vegetation in August 2020. This post will be updated after the track has been officially opened and information panels erected.
A parking area at the eastern end of Beach Road, Katikati, provides access to MacMillan Reserve to the north, and Tamawhariua Reserve and Coastal Walkway to the south. MacMillan Reserve provides walking and cycling access along the foreshore and then to the eastern end of Pukakura Road. Tamawhariua Reserve runs alongside the foreshore before heading back to Beach Road, ending on Beach Road about 500 metres from the carpark. There are toilets in the carpark, and a boat ramp off the end of Beach Rd.
There appears to be very little information about the reserves, and although the Tamawhariua Reserve is mentioned very briefly in a Western Bay of Plenty District Council page about cycle and walking trails there were no signs on the route indicating it’s name. It is signposted as a public walkway and cycle way and is also open to mobility scooters. Dogs are permitted, but must be kept under control at all times. It appeared to be a popular route for dog walkers. Horses and motorcycles are not allowed.
Lake Te Koutu (also shown as Lake Te Koo Utu and Lake Te Ko Utu) in the heart of Cambridge is a natural lake formed during one of the later Taupo volcanic eruptions about 1800 years ago when debris swept down the Waikato River and blocked off many small side streams. Water backup up behind the debris formed what is now Lake Te Koutu. The lake forms part of the 17.6 hectare Cambridge Domain which was established in 1880. Information about the domain and the walks is available on the Cambridge web site and the Mighty Waikato web site.
The Cambridge Domain is located on two main terrace levels, with steep slopes between the lower level which includes the lake, and the upper level where there is direct access from Victoria Street, Thornton Road, and Lake Street. The main access to the lake level is off Albert Street, with a parking area near the lake. There is an elevation difference of about 27 metres between the lake level and the upper level.
Yarndley’s Bush is a 14-hectare remnant of native swamp forest dominated by kahikatea, the tallest of native New Zealand trees. The bush remnant is accessible from Ngaroto Road, near Te Awamutu, down a sloping access track to the bush itself. A short loop track through the western end of the bush, mostly formed as a boardwalk to protect the tree roots, has a lookout tower about halfway around the loop. The bush was purchased from Richard Yarndley in 1992 to create a scenic reserve, and the boardwalk and lookout tower were built by the Te Awamutu Kiwanis Club in 1994/1995. Limited information about the bush and the walk can be found on the Waipa District Council web site, and the Te Awamutu information web site.
Lake Moananui is an artificial lake in Tokoroa, formed in 1975 when a low dam was built across Matarawa Stream. The lake forms part of Lake Moananui Reserve, and a concrete pathway forms a 2.5 km long walkway or cycleway around the lake. The reserve is accessible from Arawa Crescent or from SH32/Maraetai Road. There are parking areas in both locations, and toilets are easily accessible from Arawa Crecent. Some information about the lake and the walk can be found on The Mighty Waikato tourism web site. Continue reading →
Otawa Scenic Reserve is an area of native forest south-east of Tauranga and south-west of Te Puke. Otawa trig, at an elevation of 565 metres, is the highest point within the reserve. The trig is accessible from several locations, including a track which starts at the end of Manoeka Road, climbing to meet up with the track from Demeter Road and Otanewainuku, with a short steeper section before reaching the trig station. There are no views from the trig station, or from the track which has vegetation cover for the entire length.
The Otawa Scenic Reserve is managed by DoC, and a short description of the reserve and some of the tracks is found on their web site. An alternative and easier route to the trig station is described in the post Otawa Trig from Te Puke Quarry Road on this site.
The Karakariki Scenic Reserve was originally set aside as a water conservation reserve. The reserve covers about 486 hectares, and is accessible across private farmland from the end of Karakariki Valley Road, off Karakariki Road which branches off SH23 between Hamilton and Raglan, near Whatawhata. At one time the forest was dominated by kauri but this was milled out in the early 1900s. There is a short, relatively easy, track leading from the end of Karakariki Valley Road to a small waterfall. The track then continues up a steeper hill section, ending at a fenceline but without any views.
The waterfall apparently does not have an official name, despite being shown on Google Maps as Karakariki Waterfall. Karakariki Stream is actually somewhat further to the south. The track to the waterfall and beyond is known as Karakariki Track, with a description and a few photos on the DoC web site. There are several streams joining near the waterfall, including Mangapapa Stream, Tuoro Stream and Whakakai Stream. The first two are presumably the ones crossed on the last swing bridge before the waterfall, with Whakakai Stream appearing on the topographic map to be the waterfall stream. Continue reading →
Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park is an ecological restoration project situated on the outskirts of Hamilton, attempting to bring back Hamilton’s native flora and fauna. The park is owned and managed by Hamilton City Council, with help from Waikato University, Wintec, Waikato Regional Council and Tui2000. More information about the history, the park, and the project can be found on the Hamilton City Council web site.
One entry to the park is located on Brymer Road, directly across the road from the entrance to Hamilton Zoo. The intention is to create a hub with a common arrival space and facilities. The plantings in the park have been ongoing since 2004, but the park was only open to the public from mid-November 2019. Continue reading →