Mangakara Nature Walk is a short and easy educational walk adjacent to Pirongia Forest Park Lodge, on the north-eastern side of Pirongia Forest Park. It crosses the Mangakara Stream twice, following the stream for part of the loop through the forest. Several large trees are located by the track, with information panels providing information about the forest and the plants and animal life within it. The track is well formed and an easy gradient, but there are a few steps, so not suitable for wheelchair access.
Information about the walk can be found in the DoC brochure “Mangakara Nature Walk” and in “Pirongia and Raglan tracks” brochure, both available for download on the DoC web site. Information is also available on the Mt Pirongia Preservation Society web site.
Pirongia Forest Park Lodge and the parking areas for access to Pirongia Forest Park and the Mangakara Nature Walk is located at the end of Grey Road, off Te Pahu Road via either Rosborough Road or Hodgson Road. There are 3 parking areas, a shelter and information centre, and toilet facilities available, as well as a small lookout tower adjacent to the lodge.
The Mangakara Nature Walk is about 1.8 km long, and takes up to an hour to complete, depending on the time spent at each of the 12 points of interest marked with information panels along the route. Mahaukura Track to the summit of Mt Pirongia, and Ruapane Link Track to Ruapane Track and Tirohanga Track branch off from the Nature Walk track.
The lower carpark by Pirongia Forest Park Lodge. The upper carparks are off to the right past the last vehicle.
The shelter and information centre by one of the upper carparks. The tracks start to the right of the shelter.
The starting point of the tracks, with the shelter on the left.
A junction a few metres from the shelter and information centre has a track to a small lookout tower and toilets to the right, the nature walk and Ruapane Link Track straight ahead, and Manaukura Track to the left.
View from the lookout tower, across the Pirongia Forest Park Lodge building, to the Waikato area towards the north-east and east.
The nature walk is a well-formed track with an easy gradient. There are numerous information panels alongside the track.
The tree cover provides shade for the length of the walk.
The junction at the loop portion of the nature walk. The loop is designed to be walked in a clockwise direction (straight ahead) to visit the 12 points of interest in sequence.
Some of the larger trees have platforms and information panels. Here a large rimu.
And here a large kahikatea, which can grow up to about 65 metres tall, making it the tallest of the native trees of New Zealand.
A boardwalk crosses a damp area with sensitive plant roots.
There are two bridges on the loop track, crossing over Mangakara Stream.
Shortly after the first bridge crossing Ruapane Link Track towards Ruapane trig and lookout branches off to the left.
The nature walk track continues downstream, past some tall trees.
The track reaches the Mangakara Stream again, before running alongside the stream towards the second bridge crossing.
A large pukatea with distinctive buttressing, and rata vines clinging to the side of the trunk.
The track following Mangakara Stream towards the bridge.
Crossing over the stream near the end of the loop portion of the Nature Walk. From the junction the walk back to the carpark is along the same track as the initial part of the walk.
The GPS tracklog shows the Mangakara Nature Walk track, the location of the other tracks, and some points of interest. The total distance walked was 1.8 km, with a total time of 40 minutes. The track between the carpark and the loop is a single track. Inaccuracy of GPS location with dense vegetation cover makes it appear as being two separate tracks in a couple of places.
The aerial image, taken from Google Maps, shows the same area, with the nature walk above and to the left of the lodge.
The track was walked on June 17, 2018.