THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Location: Moumoukai Road onto ARA Drive, Hunua Regional Park, Hunua
*This walk is down a very rough, long gravel road*
Dogs: Yes on leash, however I would not recommend for this track
Shoes: Hiking boots are a must on this track. There are a few very muddy patches, and river crossings. Waterproof shoes are highly recommended.
Date Walked: 29 January 2017
Weather Conditions: Sunny, Hot, Dry
Distance: Aprox. 16km
Time Required: 4.5 Hours
Final Rating: ★★★☆☆GETTING THERE
IN MY BACKPACK
In my bag, I had two 1.5 L water bottles, sunscreen, my camera and some snacks. As it was a lovely sunny day, I did not have my rain jacket. I would recommend taking as much water as you can carry, and an additional pair of socks as my feet got wet.
The walk begins at the Upper Mangatawhiri camp ground and car park. There is plenty of parking and toilets here.
From the car park, you can follow either road (the one you came in on, or the one past the toilets) up to the entrance of the service road.
Continuing up the service road, you will find yourself at the dam. The dam is beautiful, and would be a lovely short walk on its own. There is an information board that shows you all of the different tracks in the area. One thing worth mentioning, is that Ernie’s track signs did not have any time or distance information. This track was definitely longer than I had expected, as the DOC map’s scale I got from their website was very misleading. I would say that this may be the same for the other tracks, so ensure you have plenty of supplies and time before starting any of the walks in this area.
From the dam, there are two options to start the majority of the walks. You can either, head up Waterline Road, or walk across the dam and follow the service road from there. We chose to head up Waterline Road.
Waterline Road is just a service road, there are a few glimpses of the reservoir which is nice to look at. A fair way along the road, around 30 to 40 minutes, on the right is the Ernie’s Track sign.
At the very beginning of Ernie’s Track, there are some stairs down into the forest and a bridge over a small stream. From there, it is all bush walking, on a very small track. Ensure you are constantly checking where the markers are and where they are pointing. If you have not seen a marker in the past few minutes, go back to find the last one. There are markers approximately every 10 to 15 meters.
Around 30 minutes into the walk, we came to a lovely boardwalk over another stream.
This track is very up and down, it is hard to capture how steep a hill is on camera. There were also multiple very muddy places, even though it had not rained recently. I would say this track would get extremely muddy during the winter, so take extra care.
One hour into the walk, we came to another stream. Here we had to cross over using a fallen tree.
Shortly after the above stream crossing, through some bush we found ourselves on the side of a deceivingly deep, larger stream. This is where, unfortunately, my feet got wet. Although my hiking boots are water proof, the water came over the top of my boots at the other end. Here, I wished I had another pair of socks in my bag, or maybe a pair of gaiters!
Past the steam, 1 hour 45 minutes into the walk, we were soon in what I would call a swamp. The ground turned from track to gooey mud, and we were having to duck under trees and branches.
A few moments later, we were soon in a bamboo forest. It felt as though we were on a different walk with every turn we took!
Now, after the bamboo forest, this is where the real climb began. Again, it was hard to get pictures to reflect how steep this was, but when we were up at each look out, we could grasp how far we had come.
30 minutes of climbing later, we came out at a clearing. From up there we could see down to the reservoir, and realised wow we have traveled quite some way!
Silly me, looked up at the next hill and laughed ‘How funny would it be if we have to go up there’ oh.. well.. not funny at all, I was about to find out!!
So again, we set out on the next climb. I wasn’t able to take many pictures at this point, as I was using my hands to get up some of the steep bits. 15 minutes later, we arrived at the top. Up here was a much appreciated seat, and a nice view over the hills over to the reservoir.
The track from here continued, up and down, up and down. This section of the track was hard work, the track was mainly exposed tree roots so I spent most of the time looking down to ensure I didn’t fall over. Around 20 minutes of bush walking later, we came to the junction of the other walks in the area.
Carrying on from the junction, we came into another opening. The opening lead us up another steep hill. 20 minutes from the junction, another seat stop to look out over the view.
Good news, from this chair, it was mainly down hill. Bad news, it was down hill via stairs. Worse news, they were very steep. This had us talking about why DOC even put stairs into some of these tracks, sometimes they are necessary, but most of the time they usually make it a lot harder.
One hour later, we arrived at Piggots Campground. This was a nice small camp site with a toilet and a shelter.
Past Piggots Campgrounds, it is a one hour, non stop walk to the dam. This was probably my least favorite part of the walk. The service road is up and down, and steep in some areas. This part also got pretty boring as there is nothing to look at.
Once back at the dam, there were some cool things to see from this end, as shown below. And then we made the last dash back to the car and out of the sun.
Overall, this walk was OK. The main downfall of this walk, was there was simply nothing to see. Once you are in the bush, I found it quite repetitive, which was disappointing. Walking on a service road is also not one of my favorites. I enjoyed the walk however I probably would not do it again, nor would it be the first I would recommend to others.