Puriri / Kura / Gibbons / Walker Ridge / Donald McClean Loop
Head to Carpark at end Mt Donald McClean Road.
There is a track (on the Opposite side of the carpark from the
walkway up to Mt Donald McLean summit) that heads down a small
Once down there a couple of metres you will see a sign straight
ahead for the Donald McClean Track going into the bush. A few more metres in and
you will see the Sign for the Puriri Ridge track on your left. We head left .
This track starts off fairly flatish with a nice bit of mud , inclines slightly
upwards then, goes steadily downwards. At one point there is a clearing where
the track is just rock & you get a pretty good view of the surrounding
Waitaks & the valley below. This track continues downwards past some Kowhai
Trees. After about 45 minutes we come across the a junction where the Puriri
Ridge Track continues straight on & left and the Kura Track starts on the
right. We head right. The Kura starts off downwards straight away down into the
valley we were just looking at previously on the rock clearing. You make your
way downwards fairly quickly,as this track is a tad steep & can be pretty
slippery on the mud & roots when raining. We pass a couple of small
waterfalls/ streams & then we make our first (of 4 river crossings). The
first one we decide is a peaceful looking spot (and also has a bit of shelter
under a fern from the rain) for a cuppa & some Golden Crunch cookies so we
can soak in our surroundings. The next 3 crossings are in a fairly quick
succession of one another, then continues flat & very easy going alongside
the Whatipu stream. You’ll pass more Kowhai & plenty of Nikau and then head
through a gate and out into a paddock along the fenceline until you reach the
road where this track ends (about just under an hour from start of the Kura).
From here we walk down the roadside towards Whatipu carpark looking up at the
ominous peaks of Omananui Track above on the left. Once at the carpark we head
past the information kiosk on our left and follow the fenceline (on the right)of
the Whatipu campground .
We followed the fenceline of the campsite towards the hill on the
opposite side of Omananui & head northwest.
Then up a slightly steep hill, with dense bush overhead. Upon
reaching close to the top, there are plenty of exposed parts of this track
through flax & some beauty views overlooking Whatipu beach & entrance
to the Manukau Heads. Once up the top, it was along a ridge with plenty of
great beach / seas views. This track had plenty of mud & some pretty deep
muddy puddles (some of them deeper than they look) adding to the fun. There are
plenty of Manuka trees that kind of form tunnels which the track goes through
too. At the end of the Gibbons (about 1 ¾ hrs) we reach the T junction.
The Muir Track to the left & the Walker Ridge Track to the
right. We head right. This track starts out pretty flat & with plenty of
muddy puddles when wet (yup, still raining) . There are also plenty of Kio Kio
Ferns all along this track. Then the track slopes upwards and the reddish-orange
clay, when wet forms a wee stream down the centre and also pretty slippery in
the wet. We come across some pretty big pine trees with cool knobbly roots .
There are also a few ferns here as well for a bit of shelter, to tuck into our
Chermoula sarnies & a nice hot cuppa tea for lunch.
After the pines, the track closes in a bit & there’s big
grassy stuff (& more kio kio ferns) on either side & then it descends
at a reasonable gradient before heading upwards (slightly steep) again. This
down & up bit is also exposed and has some pretty good views of the bush
& the sea behind you. After the ascent, the track flattens off again and
also there’s plenty of mud & deep puddles & tree roots. As you get
further along, the bush becomes more dense. After an hour from starting this
track we reach the junction of Orange peel corner. To the right the Walker
Ridge track continues towards Karamautura Forks & straight ahead, the
Odlins Timber Track begins. We head right and continue on the Walker Ridge
Track. This starts off with some pretty big kanukas (amongst heaps of other
stuff) and then heads downwards through dense kio kios on either side, there’s
plenty of roots underfoot too. After dipping down a fair bit, the track then
slopes back upwards again. About 20 minutes from the Orange Peel Corner we
reach the T junction of the Huia Ridge track going both left and right. We head
right. After 5 minutes of the Huia Ridge Track it ends at the Karamatura Forks.
To the left is the Karamatura Track, to the right is the Bob Gordon Track and
straight ahead is the Donald McClean Track. We head straight on. From here it’s
a pretty easy flat track. After about 20 minutes we pass the junction to the
Fletcher Track on the left and less than ten minutes later you pass the Bob
Gordon Track on the right. The track then slopes downwards before coming back
up again. About 40 minutes from the start and you reach the junction of the
Puriri Ridge Track on your right. We continue straight ahead and back track up
the bank to the carpark.
Total Loop Time 5 ¼ hrs
NB: may take a tad longer usually, our pace was pretty brisk as
we were keeping warm as it was raining & we discovered our jackets were not
entirely waterproof, so we were soaked through.
Just as well it was Summer time (lesson learnt: ENSURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT GEAR FOR THE CONDITIONS).
Level of Difficulty
Easy to Moderate
5.25 hours (Summer 2012)