Hapuakohe Range (south)
The best way to do this part of the Hapuakohe range is with 2 cars, unless you are after a fairly long (but do-able, as we encountered a fast paced couple doing just that) day & come back again.
We parked the 1st car at our finishing point in the carpark, in a paddock, through the gate at the end of Mangapiko Valley Road (from the direction of SH1).
Then we headed up to Matahuru Rd and followed that past the county line from Waikato to Hauraki, where the windy gravel road then becomes Ohinewai Rd. We park on the side of this narrow road by the signage for the Hapuakohe Walkway. Here there is very limited parking space, we park the 2nd car.
On one side of the road the track heading north, the signage states: “Hapuakoke Walkway, North Rd - 8 Hours”.
On the other side, by where we have parked the car we start today’s tramp, where the Signage states: “Hapuakoke Walkway, Mangapiko Valley Rd - 6 Hours”.
The track starts off downwards through fairly spacious bush where the light is a dim green hue and there are plenty of supplejacks hanging down from the tall trees above. Close to quarter of an hour we cross a small stream surrounded by plenty of paritaniwhas. From there we head steadily upwards. The incline has a fair amount of level bits, so it’s makes the climb quite easy going. After about 1 ½ hours from starting out we were pretty close to the top and the track was running parallel to the edge of the bush and we could see farmland through gaps in the trees. Also the light here made our surroundings a vibrant green.
We decided to stop trackside for a hot cuppa & some Oat Raisin Cookies and kicked back for morning tea and soaked in the good bush vibes. It wasn’t too long after morning tea that the track came out of the bush and followed the fenceline. This part of the track is exposed and also reveals terrific views, on one side the Firth of Thames, the northern part of the Hapuakohe Range , above that the Hunua Ranges and out to the east we see a bit of the Kaimai Ranges. On the other side we see plentiful rolling green hills & farmland of the Waikato beyond. There are not many orange markers along the fenceline, but common sense tells you to keep on following.
The track undulates. The ups & downs are not too steep though (probably a tad steeper coming from the other direction). This part of the track also takes us past a couple of pretty big TV antenna thingys, there are also a couple of farm houses not too far away, so we didn’t quite have that feeling of isolation as the northern part of the Hapuakohe Range. On the plus side though, the views were still great . The views were mostly westwards and you can make out Mt Pirongia & Mt Karioi pretty easily too. Just after the 2nd TV Antenna thingy , there were some pretty cool windswept & moss covered trees. The track also started its descent. Also here we got some more views looking South East at the Kaimai Ranges.
It was about here that we stopped for our delicious lunch of Mediterranean Quinoa Patties on Ciabatta . Here we also sat back with another cuppa and soaked in the view. About an hour from starting out on the exposed fenceline, the track then heads over a stile & then back into the bush again for a bit. As the weather closed in, it seemed pretty dark. After a while we came out of the bush again and were greeting by more rolling hills, turned on just about a right angle, followed the fenceline again & then back in the bush. From here the decent got a fair bit steeper.
At the bottom we cross another small stream close to 4 hours from starting out. Then it was up again for a bit and it wasn’t long before we were out in low farmland where we followed a meandering tranquil stream. We were then quite surprised as we rounded a bend to see our car so soon. Total Tramp Time about 4 ¼ Hours.
Level of Difficulty
4.25 Hours (Autumn 2013)