Ananui Falls , Waitengaue Valley & Waitawheta Valley Loop (Kaimai Ranges)
Head to Franklin Road carpark (close to the end of this no exit road).
We continue down the road on foot passing the signage marking Bluff Stream Kauri Loop Track, straight ahead & Dean Track, up the stairs to the right. Straight on, a couple of minutes later we reach the end of the road which is fenced and go over stile and follow markers through private farmland (& cow paddocks) alongside the Waitawheta River. After close to 15 minutes we reach a junction, The Waitawheta Tramway Track is straight ahead and the Bluff Stream Kauri Loop Track veers to the left for a few metres before crossing the Waitawheta River.
We head left. Crossing the river was easy enough, but don’t expect dry feet. From here the track inclines upwards at an easy gradient then crosses the Trig Stream and continues steadily upwards. After about an hour we reach a junction. The Bluff Stream Kauri Loop Track continues on the right and the track to Ananui Falls & Waitengaue Valley Track starts on the left. We head left. The track continues upwards and gets a tad steeper. As we gain a bit of height there is a lot more moss about, the hanging moss looks magical when caught by the sun. The canopy overhead is quite thick, but there is the occasional spot catching the sun & revealing a bit of view. We take the opportunity & stop trackside in a sunbeam for a cuppa along with some oat & raisin cookies.
We continue steadily upwards. After about an hour or so the track flattens out, we cross a wee stream not on the map, there is heaps of cool moss up here and supplejack too. After a while the bush thins out & we pass through gorse & cutty grass and then a really cool, large flat clearing with tufts of tussock grass. Some of this flat park of track is boggy too with some pretty deep puddles. It’s not long before the bush closes in again. After about 2 ½ hours or so, we pass a junction with an unmarked track to the left. The markers prominently direct us to the continue to the right. Soon enough the track starts to slope downwards.
After just over 3 hours from starting out we reach the junction of the Ananui Falls to the left and the Waitengaue Valley Track continues straight ahead. We head left for about 5 minutes cross the Ananui Stream and moments later we are at a sheer drop. There’s an awesome view of the Waitengaue Valley below as well. There’s a flat rock sticking out right next to the waterfall where you can lie on your front and peer over the top to look down the cliff and watch the water falling 106 metres straight down.
Afterwards we back track to the junction and now turning left towards the Waitengaue Valley. The track heads downwards, easily at first. On the way down there are gaps in the trees where you get a pretty good view the Ananui Falls and also views out to sea. Soon enough, the descent gets pretty steep and half an hour later we’re at the bottom and at the Waitengaue Stream. There is also a junction, the Waitengaue Tramline is to the left and to the right and across the stream is the Waitawheta Hut Track.
We cross the stream. There are some descent rocks here, the sun is shining & the stream looks picturesque, so we decide this to be out lunch stop. We tuck into some Curry Onion wraps with Spicy Tomato & Kasundi. Refuelled we follow the track back into the bush where it heads upwards whilst running alongside the Waitengau Stream. The track heads steadily upwards and crosses over creeks & streams following onto the Waitengaue Stream. After about an hour or so the track gradient eases as we leave the Waitengaue Valley and head over the top the ridge and then descends again as we enter the Waitawheta Valley. We continue on our steady descent and the track follows a stream downwards that we crisscross over a couple of times.
After about 2 ½ hours from starting this track we reach a T junction. To the right was the track towards Waitawheta Hut & also Franklin Road and to the left the track towards Wharawhara Stream. We head right and alongside the Waitawheta River. After a few minutes we reach a bridge the crosses the river and has a track leading towards Waitawheta Hut. This bridge is at the site of where a mill once was and crosses a deep gorge where you can see the power of the river. The view from the bridge of the river & gorge below is quite impressive.
From here we keep on the track towards the direction to Franklin Road. We continue on a flat wide track along the riverside. There is plenty of evidence of the old milling days of destruction with sleepers under foot & the odd metal bolt sticking up. There are long parts of the track with a tunnel like vibe caused by the canopy and leafy ground. We cross the Waitawheta River about 5 or 6 times, mostly on suspension bridges and 1 or 2 times wading across. A couple of the crossings are where other streams meet the river. The surrounding valleys, gorges and bluffs on these crossings are simply beautiful.
After crossing the river that many times, it almost appears that there is more than one river as it twists and turns down the valley. After a couple of hours the dome of Maungawhio comes into view on our right , then we pass the junction, also to our right for the Bluff Stream Kauri Loop. About half an hour later we pass a small waterfall on our left surrounded by bountiful parataniwha, then also on the left, we pass the junction to the Daly Clearing Track.
15 minutes or so later we pass the other junction to the Bluff Stream Kauri Loop that we initially went down, now on our right. From there we backtracked for about 15 minutes through farmland & cows back to the car. Total Loop Time, just over 8 hours.
Level of Difficulty
Moderate with plenty of River & Stream crossings
8 hours (Summer 2012)