Fletcher - Don McLean - Huia Ridge - Twin Peaks - Tom Thumb - Karamatura Loop
Head to Karamatura carpark (down a gravel drive opposite Huia Museum).
Straight ahead alongside the Karamatura Stream is the start of the Karamatura Track. This starts off as a flat gravel walkway designed for the masses. You pass a bridge and then you come across the Fletcher Track on the left. We head left. This starts off straight up orangey clay and is fairly steep and wide (and slippery
when wet). There are also quite a few young Kauri about. After about half an hour the track flattens off a bit and there are some pretty cool big trees here, there’s two particular Totaras where the track goes underneath these two huge trees that have merged into one. There is plenty of mud on this flat part and starts to incline upwards again, gently at first then steep again. On the steepest part where there are rocks, there are roots to hang on to help you up.
At the top you come to a ridge with a cool right angled tree which seems to be designed by mother nature as a seat for weary trampers. At this point the track veers upwards to the right, but there is also a track heading to the left which leads to a magnificent view point of Huia Bay below and of Auckland beyond .
We headed back on the track and continued upwards (this time a bit more of a
gradual climb) and along the ridge of the Fletcher track. The trees are a tad different up here and there is also plenty of cool moss about. Also being on a ridge you get a few sneak views on either side in between gaps in the bush. As we are continuing constantly upwards, we notice we are getting pretty high up. At one point we can see views of the Manukau on the left and we are looking down on Mt Donald McLean. The track then undulates a bit testing out the fitness. After the last bit of up, we finish this track after about 1 ½ hours.
Here there is a junction of the Donald McLean Track going both left and right. We head right. This track is quite flat and it looks like ARC are doing more work up here as the track looks to be wider since our last vist, with a few more trees knocked out of the way (including the one with the cool fungi as big as a dinner plate) and graded. Personally, I reckon it's a shame when then tracks are “fixed up” for the masses as it takes away some of the natural feel about it. After about 15 minutes we arrive at the junction of the Karamatura Forks. To the left is the Bob Gordon Track, straight ahead is the Huia Ridge Track and to right is the Karamatura Track. We continue straight ahead on the Huia Ridge Track. This starts off pretty flat and about 2 minutes or so you’ll pass the junction on your left of the Walker Ridge Track, we follow on the Huia Ridge which now veers a tad to the right. After a while the bush closes in a bit and starts to undulate. There are some cool parts where you need to make your way through the mud and over logs and roots n stuff. There aren’t too many clearings or spots for stopping on this track, but soon enough we find a bit just big enough and we stop track side for a cuppa and some golden crunch cookies. There are also two small stream crossings. The first one is smaller and doesn’t really appear to be moving and the second one is the top of the
Karamatura Stream which has a wee tranquil trickle. Not long after this stream
you’ll encounter a boardwalk with cutty grass on either side. Even though I’m not a fan of boardwalks (as they detract from nature and mud n stuff), the ARC have done a pretty good job on this and put wire mesh on it to try and reduce slippage. After about 1 ¾ hours we reach the junction of the Twin Peaks Track to the right, and the Huia Ridge Track continues straight ahead. We head right.
This track starts off fairly flat and after another 5 minutes or so we come across the sign marking the highest point in the Waitaks which is a wee clearing (at 474 metres above sea level, even though the sign states a different height). We notice up here that all the trees are covered in moss. After a while the track gets really muddy and there are quite a few obstacles of fallen trees to climb over and under as well making your way through the overhanging bush. As well as lots of mud there are heaps of puddles (now this is our kinda tramp). We realise that there’s not many places to stop on the side of the track either, but we did find something with a slight clearing on some dead, brown fern branches, so we stopped for spicy Moroccan sarnies and a nice hot cuppa .This track undulates a fair bit for quite a while, you can tell when you’re at each of the peaks at it gets a little bit rocky at each one and there’s a bit of a dip in between them. There is not much of a view from either of the these peaks, but once you get a bit past the second lower peak, a few of the spectacular views reveal themselves. From here it’s pretty much all down and some parts are pretty steep.
After lots of down we come across the junction of the Tom Thumb Track on the right, and the Twin Peaks Track is to the left. Also right before our eyes is the magnificent Kauri named Tom Thumb. Each time I pass by, I can’t help myself gaping at this awe inspiring Kauri. At this junction we head right, down the Tom Thumb track. This starts off descending on a pretty easy going gradient. After about 20 minutes it gets a bit steeper and we then reach the next junction with the Tom Thumb Bypass Track on the left and the Tom Thumb Track continues on the right. We head right. After a while we get a few views in between the trees of a side of the rock face of the grand Karamatura Gorge.
The track heads down a tad more and pass a few interesting rocks and soon enough you can hear the rapids of the Karamatura stream. This crossing is rather beauty with lots of moss and rocks and good vibes. There’s a wee swimming hole here too which is nice for a dip in the warmer months. After the stream crossing we climb up the last 10 metres or so and we reach the end of the Tom Thumb Track, about 45 minutes from starting it at the next junction.
Here the Karamatura Track is both left (downwards)and right (upwards). We head left, after about two metres or so we also pass a junction on the right (The Karamatura Loop Track). We stick with The Karamatura which is gravel and runs alongside the stream going steadily downwards until it flattens out. On this path, we pass two junctions on the right, firstly the other end on the Karamatura Loop Track, then the Fletcher Track which we went up previously, then we cross the small bridge again. About 30 minutes later we arrive back at the car.
Total Loop Time about 6 hours and 45 minutes.
Level of Difficulty
Moderate to Hard
6.75 Hours (Autumn 2012)
Topo Map does not show the entire Tom Thumb Track.
It only shows up the Tom Thumb Bypass Track, then the rest of the Bypass track, omitting the rest of the Tom Thumb Track from the junction.