Piha Valley - McKenzie - Quarry - Forbes - Centennial - McElwain Lookout - Quarry - Maungaroa Ridge - Maungaroa Lookout
Head to the end of Glen Esk Road .
Start out on Piha Valley Tk and walk along enjoying the meandering stream to your left on this flat track amidst plenty of Nikau and get moss.
After 20 minutes we come to the McKenzie Track Junction to the left and across the Piha Stream.
Straight away we start to head up steadily amongst plenty of young Kauri. It doesn’t take too long at all to get a bit of height on this track. Towards the top it starts to flatten out a bit and before you know it you’re at the Mckenzie Junction, which is a grassy clearing right in the middle of the bush. This junction is also kind of the centre of our figure eight.
At this junction straight ahead is the Pole Line Tk, to the left is the Maungaroa Ridge Tk and to the right is the Quarry Tk. We head right on the Quarry Track. After about 2 minutes there is another junction, the Quarry Track veers upwards to the left, the Forbes Track is straight on. We head straight and onto the Forbes Track.
At the start of this track you get a few sneak peeks at the valley below and you can see how far you have just climbed . This track now descends very steadily and has a great vibe to it (plus plenty of mud and moss) as well as a funky right angled Nikau and there is plenty of canopy overhead. We pass over the Mckenzie Stream which is only a small crossing and not quite fitting in for our tea break so we carry on down. This track ends at the bottom of the valley with a T Junction of the Centennial Track (heading left and right). You can also hear the Centennial Stream nearby. The signs for each of the tracks (Forbes & Centennial) act as excellent makeshift seats, so we decide this will do as a pretty good spot (and being 1 ½ hours from setting out) for morning tea and golden crunch biccies.
All re-fuelled we continue left and upwards on the Centennial Track. After 100 metres or so we see the track goes right alongside the stream and make a mental note that it would also be a great tea spot (but perhaps in the summer). This track heads steadily up but at a more gradual gradient and makes for a very pleasant walk upwards on the side of the valley. Plenty of mud and moss here too.
As we get higher, the side of the valley becomes rocky, and closer to the top there is a little bit of rock climbing and there are some rock stairs on the side of this rock part of the valley and a nice hand rail to keep you feeling safe. This is quite exposed and surrenders a magnificent view of the valley below giving us nice warm fuzzies. From here the track flattens out and after a while we pass the junction on the left the Quarry track, but we continue straight ahead on the Centennial and notice that the track is now gravelly which leads to the road minutes later. At the side of the road we walk a few metres to our left and encounter the start of the McElwain Lookout Track.
This is another gravel path which we follow for about 10 minutes until we reach the McElwain Look out, a constructed wooden lookout tower with commanding views of the Waitaks and to the sea below. After admiring the views we continue straight ahead where the track joins the Quarry Track T junction going both left & right/straight. The left heads toward the Centennial, so we obviously head straight on the Quarry Track heading downwards. This track is still gravel at this stage, but eventually it gives way to our natural beloved mud. This is a nice easy stroll downwards and after about half an hour or so we approach the junction to the Forbes track again (now on our left) and pass this to make our way after a few minutes to the McKenzie Junction and back to the centre of the figure 8.
At this stage the sun has come out and our tummies were rumbling so we thought this was a perfect sunny patch for lunch sprawling out on the grass. Now full of energy we headed down the Maungaroa Ridge Track which was pretty straight and down hill to start off. Being on a ridge we received on occasional glimpses of the valleys below on either side and also started conversations of being a flea walking down the ridge on the back of a Ridgeback dog.
About 2/3’s of the way on this track it starts to go up again fairly steadily and there’s plenty of more young Kauri trees. At the top of this hill there’s some pretty odd looking trees and growth about and the bush is less dense. After close to an hour of this track we meet up with the T junction of the Maungaroa Lookout Track (going left and right).
Even though we are planning to go left, we decide to go right for 5 minutes or so to the next clearing for a bit of a view as we gather there must be a few things to look out at. Surely enough we find a clearing with a nice view of Lion Rock and the sea and stuff. Satisfied, we backtrack past the junction and proceed on our intended course on the Maungaroa Lookout Track towards Piha. This track descends and has a few more views of Piha beach here and there. We also pass a cool old tree stump which is reminiscent of the tree from Flash Gordon where he’s on that planet with the tree people and he had to put his hand in the holes and hopefully not get bitten by the scary poisonous creature lurking inside.
We come to a part in the track that forks, logic says to carry on going right and downwards, but curiosity says lets go left and up. We concede to curiosity and are rewarded with a spectacular view from a rocky vantage point looking down directly on Piha below on one side and up the valley on the other side. We then backtrack and continue down at a steady pace now and before we know it we’re right down the bottom, right below the rocky viewpoint that we were just at. This is now a grassy clearing with lots of flax we follow the track towards a wooden bridge across the Piha Stream as race across with our heads down dodging the bees overhead and arrive at Glen Esk Road. From here we head left it’s just a two or three minute walk to the carpark.
Level of Difficulty
Easy to Medium
Total Loop Time
5 hours (Spring 2011)