Things to know before you go:
Location: (Opposite number 773) Scenic Drive, Henderson Valley, Auckland
Toilets: Yes, at the Dam
Dogs: Yes and No. Dogs are allowed on one part of the track, however there are bait stations with Poison, I would not take my dog here.
Shoes: I wore my hiking / waterproof boots as it had been raining, and the track was slippery and in some parts muddy. If it has been dry, sneakers would be fine.
Date Walked: 22 January 2017
Weather Conditions: Rain, Overcast, Sun
Distance: Approx 6km
Time Required: Approx 2 hours, we were having a really good look at everything and stopping for photos.
Final Rating: ★★★★☆
The Waitakere Reservoir is relatively easy to find. Simply type in Waitakere Reservoir into Google Maps and it took off SH16, along Lincoln Road, through Ranui and up Scenic Drive. Once on Scenic Drive, continue for 6.5 km and you will see the Waitakere Dam sign and car park on your right. The day I went, the car park was full however there is parking along the edge of the road.
In my backpack
I took two 600 ml water bottles, my camera and a few snack bars. I did this walk late afternoon, however there are plenty of nice places on this walk to stop and have a picnic. I also took my rain jacket, as it was an overcast day and I am glad I did. In the Waitakere Ranges rain comes and goes, one moment it is hot and the next it’s pouring – best to be prepared!
The walk itself was very enjoyable. starting at the car park, you make your way down the 1.2km paved service road to the dam. There are plenty of picnic benches along the way, as well as a short 30 second walk to a beautiful Kauri tree. This part of the walk is all downhill and steep in some places. You then arrive at the dam, and it is beautiful! Lots to look at, and there is history information of the dam, along with another picnic spot and the toilets. It seemed a lot of people were just walking down to the dam and then heading back to the car park, so this is another option if you do not wish to go on a long walk.
Down the side of the dam, there are some stairs which lead you to the base, which allows you to look up on the dam. From here you can see the beginnings of the tram line, and look out over the top of the waterfall over the ranges.
This is an additional part of the walk, as you then need to head back up the stairs to start the rest of the tram line walk. There is a sign saying No Entry past this point, due to engineering investigations indicating rocks can fall at any stage.
Once you have climbed to the top of the stairs, turn left past the toilets to the beginning of the tram line walk. There are multiple walks you can do from this point, and some tracks are part of the Hillary Trail.
The start of the track starts by going down some rather slippery stairs, take extra care if it has been raining, and brings you out onto the tram line. From there, you continue to walk along the tram line, here are some pictures from along the way.
Once you have walked past the waterfall, you will see a tunnel. You can see the other end, so no torch is required. Be careful as this was very wet and soggy when we went through, lucky I had my hiking boots on!
After the tunnel, you continue along the tram line and eventually come out at ‘Picnic Flats’. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo but there is a shelter with two picnic tables and a flat bit of grass where you could lay a picnic blanket.
Continuing on the tram line, eventually you come to the end of the track, where you can see the tram line continuing through a closed tunnel. At this point, there is a junction with signs pointing left onto the Anderson track. If you do not have hiking boots on, and it has been raining, my advice would be to turn around and go back towards the dam. This part of the walk is more typical NZ bush walking, steep hills and barely there tracks.
Parts of this track were rather slippery so take care. Once you have made it up the hill, another junction point offers two options: left towards the Auckland City walk, or right onto Anderson track. This part of the walk is part of the Hillary Trail. We chose right, and headed up Anderson track, which again was very wet and muddy, so additional care is required.
At the end of Anderson track, you will come out onto the main Scenic Drive with the option of crossing the road and continuing your walk further. if you are not fond of walking on a tight windy road, you may want to turn back into the bush and back track. Although the walk on the road is not very long, maybe 1 – 2 km or so, it can be dangerous as it is a 100 km zone, with not much room on the side of the road. This was probably the least enjoyable part of the walk for me.
Overall, I would highly recommend this walk. Whats great, is that you can make the walk as long or as short as you like, with the option to turn back and still have lots of great things to look at along the way.