Dome Forest Walkway & back (Warkworth)
Head to Dome Forest Walkway carpark (off State Highway 1, just past Warkworth)
We start out past the cafe and up a few staircases. Looking back behind, they are reminiscent of an MC Escher drawing. Once up the first lot of stairs, the track is quite flat and we were enlightened by a bit of signage every now and then, naming the occasional tree. The odd sign was a tad ambiguous, working out which tree the sign actually referred to, but most were positioned ok and we even learnt something .
There were a couple more stair cases, some even cut into the stone, but not an overkill (as we’ve encountered on previous tracks). There’s still a bit of natural gradient of the undulating track and a few tree roots underfoot. After about half an hour we reached a Lookout platform. There’s a pretty good view from here too looking south over farmland, Warkworth, Mahurangi and you can still make out Rangitoto too. There is a sign advising that from here on it’s more of a tramping track and that mid to high level fitness recommended.
From here we leave the gravel, the track narrows and heads downwards and also the good old mud increases to add to the fun. It’s not long before we come across a cool overhanging rock, almost cavelike, where we pass under then have to climb up fairly steeply and then we’re on the rock we passed under. Up a tad further and we arrive at the Trig about 20 minutes from the previous lookout. The view is framed by flax below and looking north. It’s a pretty good view of the surrounding forest and farmland. As there was a bit of rain about, perhaps we didn’t quite see all there was to be seen, but what we saw was fairly impressive. You could also see across to the next fairly decent sized peak that the track would head too after the climb down and up.
From the Trig there was plenty of downwards track down the ridge. With the rain, it made for a bit of fun, slipping and sliding. There’re heaps of roots underfoot too, so you really have to watch your footing. After another half hour or so, we were on the saddle on the lowest bit of this ridge and we came across Waiwhiu Kauri Grove. There’s some impressive mature Kauri here. We were a little surprised that there wasn't any of those spray detergent bottles at the beginning of the track and one of those signs about Kauri Die Back. It’s great this handful of Kauri survived, but it just gives you a taste of what this forest would've been like before the pioneers came.
After admiring these giants we carried on the track veering to the right, following the orange markers (as we noticed there was an unmarked track to the left). It wasn't long before the track headed up again . On our incline we came across a wee grassy patch and decided this was a good spot for a hot cuppa and some golden crunch cookies. After a bit more of a climb we were up the top of the peak that we were looking across from previously when we were at the Trig. Also from here there a few more views to be had behind us. Going forward, once we started to go down the other side of this peak there were some great views looking out to sea with the islands and surrounding country side. We could also see yet another peak that this track had install for us. So back downwards and into the bush we went.
After a bit of undulation we made it up the next peak. Whilst heading downwards, about 2 hours 45 minutes from starting out we noticed the native bush ended, giving way to Pine forest, and instead of orange markers there were white plastic poles with red reflector stickers. A minute or 2 later, the tramping track ended at a junction of a wide muddy dirt/quad bike track going left and right. Being stubborn we wanted to get to the end and see where it lead to. We headed left and followed this muddy track in the rain which after a few minutes was sloping downwards making every other step more of a slide. After close to 20 minutes we reached the end of this track at Waiwhiu Rd going both left and right. Making the total one way length of this track just a smidgen over 3 hours from the start.
The end of the track was a bit of an anticlimax as this intersection was a remote narrow gravel road in the middle of nowhere. There was a post marking the junction for Te Araroa Walkway confirming where we were, but that’s about it. From here we trudged back up the muddy dirt track until we got to the junction of the Tramping track again. Here we decided to stop for our lunch of Egg (free range) and celery mayo Sarnies and a nice hot cuppa.
From here we retraced our steps and headed back. It was definitely a lot steeper in the opposite direction. The uphill after the Kauri Grove back to the Trig was definitely a decent work out. I still find going uphill a tad faster though, especially when it’s slippery (as going down hill we’re often being a tad more cautious and
slow). After 6 hours from starting out we arrived back at the carpark.
Level of Difficulty
3 Hours - One Way (Winter 2012)
6 Hours - Return (Winter 2012)