Whatipu Car Park, Kira Track, Whatipu stream, Kauru Stream, stream bashing, waterfalls, Walker Ridge Track, Gibbons Track, Whatipu beach, Manukau heads, Wonga Wonga Bay
Kauru Stream Loop
Before I start with this, be warned that it is very challenging, with some pretty high climbs & some of them a tad slippery. This is not recommended for anyone just starting out.
As well as heights and precarious climbs, there’s lots of mosquitoes, heaps of spiders (& spider webs) and some of the biggest & liveliest wetas I’ve seen. The end of the stream also differs from that on the map, so a GPS is also a good idea.
Head to Whatipu car park.
From here walk back down the gravel road for a couple of minutes until the signage for the Kura Track on the left. This track starts off over the fence and along a grassy paddock and heads into the valley. Soon enough the track runs alongside the Whatipu Stream with plenty of Manuka overhead and as you get into the bush more there are plenty of ferns about as well as a few Nikaus & Puriri. This part of the track is easy going flat and very tranquil with the sounds of birdsong all around & the stream on the left. Close to half an hour on the Kura Track we reach where the track crosses the Whatipu Stream.
Instead of crossing we head left and head downstream wading & rock hopping down the Whatipu Stream. After about 5 minutes we see the Kauru Stream on the right where there is a small waterfall feeding into the Whatipu Stream. We head right and start out on the Kaurau Stream and we climb up to the right of the waterfall which is the first of a few. There are lovely rock pools at the bottom of each waterfall, and each one on this 1st set of falls is relatively straight forward to get up & over and not much more than 6 foot high .
Once up the 1st set of falls, we wade through & rock hop on this flattish part of the shallow stream. With stream routes I find it difficult to gauge time as the rest of the world just slips away. After a while we reach the 2nd set of waterfalls. You’ll know when you reach them as the first one in this set that you see looks well over 50 foot high and there’s a bit of a boggy bit filled with sticks & debris below the gentle trickles of water. This waterfall has a dry rocky bit to the left where there is a way straight up. There is a bit of cutty grass & gorse to contend with, but there are reasonable handholds & footholds to help you up.
Once at the top we turn around to see the awesome view of the valley beyond. There is still another high waterfall to climb up but atleast this one provides the option of climbing up through the epiphytes with other growth & roots. Up here we find our view is even more impressive & we see that we’ve climbed higher than a pretty tall kauri tree that we were previously looking up at. There is also a lovely pool with another wee waterfall trickling down from above. This pool at this time (one of a few to chose from) just looked very inviting for a quick dip to cool down, so we indulged. The water went right to the end of the rock (just like those flash pools in brochures) where it overflowed to the next waterfall below and had a gorgeous view down the valley & beyond. We also decide to stop for a bit and soak in our surroundings and enjoy morning tea of our oat & raisin cookies and a quenching cuppa.
From here we scaled another waterfall before it was back to flattish stream again. The higher up you get, the more mossy the surroundings become. Just as we thought we’d gone on for awhile and that we had climbed all the waterfalls we come across a 3rd set. The first couple of these were pretty high & we had to climb up & through some pretty dense epiphytes (some snatching my hat). Again each waterfall has a lovely pool under each of them, so we stop for another wee dip as you can get pretty hot ( & sometimes a wee bit scratchy) climbing. This 3rd set was the last set.
From here the sides of the stream closed in a bit and the moss & Parataniwha was plentiful. We also noticed quite a few cool looking red dragonflies about too. Somewhere up here we found a nice flat rocky island in the stream and our rumbling tummies let us know it was lunch time, so we tucked into some Avocado Sarnies. We don’t hang around too long as some of the mozzies about were also pretty ravenous. Continuing on we notice more debris over the stream, you have to be careful climbing over logs, as many of them are rotten & can’t hold your weight. As for climbing under, we noticed one really big green log was quite a alive with movement underneath where we must have startled some pretty big wetas. We didn’t waste any time getting under that one.
As the stream closed in we found that it was flat in parts to walk on the bank above to walk from side to side crossing over at various obstacles. At one point the stream split in to going left & right, we headed left as that was where the strongest flow of water was coming from. After a while, there was a decent sized swamp ahead, after our feet sinking very deep in the mud we realised that we definitely had to go around, luckily at this point, the bush was to not too dense.
After the swamp, the stream flow was still fairly steady until after about 4 ¼ hours on the Kaurau Stream, it disappeared under ground amongst a lot of cutty grass & epiphytes . From here we veered left at an angle away from the dense cutty grass & epiphytes and up the valley through the bush. About 15 minutes or so later we came out on the Walker Ridge Track going left & right. We headed left. After about 5 minutes or so on a pretty easy track, the Walker Ridge Track ended at a junction. Straight ahead was the Muir Track and to our left was the Gibbons Track. We headed left.
This is an easy, well used track and starts off flat . Being mid summer there was no mud, also this track is quite exposed to the elements so you can really feel the sun on you after being under canopy of the bush surrounding the stream. After about half an hour or so into it you get a few really great views to the right of the beach & marshland below. Before we know it the track starts to slope downwards, offering more views at occasional clearings, of Whatipu beach & also the Manukau heads . Then the track goes through a tunnel of manukas & then back into the bush again where we see some pretty cool Puriri Trees. After about 55 minutes on the Gibbons Track we reach the end of the track at the Whatipu campsite. Passing the junction of the track to the caves (on our right), we follow the fenceline for a few minutes before we reach the carpark. After getting off our shoes & packs , it’s off to Wonga Wonga Bay for a swim in the sea.
Total Loop Time about 6 Hours.
Level of Difficulty
Hard (with plenty of climbing & route finding)
6 Hours (Summer 2013)
The stream flowed from the other direction at the end, since the map was generated.
There are Plenty of mosquitoes - repellent is reccomended