Waiotahi Track + Karaka Track Loop, Thames
Head to the Karaka Track carpark on Karaka Road, just before Irishtown Road. To link these two tracks we need to take a walk through the quaint Thames township for about half an hour.
From the carpark we walk back down Karaka Road, Then we turn into Redwood Lane on the right. Just after a Motel is a walkway on the right which crosses the Karaka Stream and leads to Bella Street. Follow this street down to the end where it turns into Campbell Street and follow this too until the end where it meets Pollen St and then turn right. The take your 2nd right which is up Waiotahi Rd. Follow this road until you eventually see a gate and then signage for the Waiothi Track.
Through the gate, this track starts out quite a wide (enough for quadbike) with orangey brown clay underfoot and heads upwards on a pretty easy gradient alongside & above the Waiothi Stream. There are plenty of Manuka Trees about and we also pass quite a few bees hives on our right, so above & all around us is humming with the multitude of bees working away. We also pass the odd mine shaft reminding us of this region’s past. The track incline gets at bit steeper and widely zig zags up the hill and we also cross the stream a few times too. This track is quite overgrown with plenty of Kiokio, Cutty Grass & Gorse, but it is also quite exposed for the first hour, before we get into the bush. As we gain a bit of height we get the occasional view out to the firth of Thames.
After about 1 ½ hours the track starts to level off and we are undercover of the bush. In between the trees are some great views of the Coromandel Ranges too. We take advantage of one of these viewpoints and stop for morning tea on an exposed side of the hill, on the clay & enjoy some Raisin Oat Cookies with a cuppa and soak in some of the view. After about 2 ¼ hours on the track we reach the end of the Waiotahi Track a junction. The Karaka Track leading to the Crosbies Hut is straight ahead and to our right is the Karaka Track heading back to Thames.
We head right. This track is more of a bush tramping track and not as level or wide (as the Waiothi Track). It too though, is quite overgrown with plenty of KioKio growing over to obscure your footing. Some of the track parts are quite narrow and also drop down quite suddenly under the Kiokio, so you need to pay attention. There are some fairly exposed parts presenting some great views too. Also in the bush there is a bit more climbing over logs & ducking under trees, adding to the fun, and there’s also some pretty cool moss about too.
After about 40 minutes or so on the track we come out at a brilliant viewpoint amongst some really cool orange, yellow & purple rocks on an outcrop. The rocks themselves are awesome, but below, we look down on the abyss of bush beyond & below and then out to Table Mountain. You can also make out The Pinnacles in the distance too. This was beyond obvious to us, as the perfect spot to stop and admire this absolutely stunning view. Here we tucked into our Guacamole sarnies.
Afterwards we make our way back into the bush. In between the trees our next views are towards another direction & we can see the Kaimai Ranges beyond and can even make out the mast on top of Te Aroha. Soon enough our track starts to slope gently downwards and after a while we here the trickle of the rapids of the Karaka Stream below on our right. There are a few creek crossings feeding into the stream and some more narrow bits of track above the valley below. There’s also a bit a supplejack about keen to trip you up if you aren’t looking as well. We make our first crossing where another stream feeds into the Karaka stream and we notice there is an inviting waterhole beyond a couple rapids. Being a hot day, this makes for a great place for a bit of a cooling dip.
We continue downwards and at parts the track takes on a vibrant green tunnel like feel with the sun beaming through the leaves. We also get lots of picturesque view points of the stream below us a s well. Soon enough there is another stream crossing and it not too long after that with the stream now on our right again that we see a track downwards to the stream with a beautiful waterhole, considerably deeper and larger than the last one we went in, just begging us to go for another swim – so we obliged. The water temperature was just perfect. refreshed we continued on our way passed yet another potential spot and about 10 minutes or so later we came out at someones house where their driveway was actually the end of the track.
Total loop time about 5 ½ hours.
Level of Difficulty
5.5 Hours (Summer 2012)