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.
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.
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 →
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.