Parau - Nihotupu Ridge Loop (Kiwi)
Head to the gravel carpark below the Lower Nihotupu Dam.
You will see the sign for the Parau Track. This heads straight-ish and ascends steadily . It doesn’t take long before you can peak through at the occasional sea view.
After a while we encounter a flatish grassy part that is quite exposed and designed for vehicle access which we continue along until we sight another sign to the right for the Parau Track. This leads away from the flat grassy track/road and up, back into the bush.
The track continues steadily upwards until we reach a junction for the Panto track on the left, we follow straight on the Parau track for 10 minutes or so. We then reach the Junction where the Parau track heads left and the Nihotupu Ridge Track starts straight on. We follow on straight and this track ascends steadily and we notice this part of the bush has plenty of totara trees. There are also lots of tree roots and logs to clamber over, you really have to watch your footing. Some of these roots are pretty thick & look like boa constrictor snakes. As you get higher on the ridge you also get some good views to the valley and reservoir below.
We also noticed that higher up the trees were less dense, but there are also lots of thick vines to contend with. At one point the track unnoticeably split in two where someone laying bait (and littering redbull shot drinks) had been frequently, the track then disappeared. After failing to find any track marker signs we backtracked, this time we remembered the golden rule KEEP ON THE TRACK .
It was coming from this backtrack direction that we saw a trail sign so we could continue our way. The trail had initially had a right turn where as the other track continued straight ahead. A tad poorly defined at this spot we thought. About 20 minutes later we come across the junction for the Summit Track heading right. We followed the Nihotupu Ridge Track which veered to the left and downwards. This track undulated for quite a while and ended on a downwards part.
Approximately 2 hours from starting this track, we come to the T junction meeting up with the Parau track again (going left and right). We headed left. As soon as we started we joyfully noticed that being lower ground, there was more mud and moss (and plenty of squelching to be had). Not long along this track we come to the tranquil Kakamatua Stream with plenty of room to sit alongside and is a great spot to stop for lunch and a cuppa.
From here the track is mostly up and some of it steep. Once at the top it flattens off a bit and before we know it we’re at the junction for the Nihotupu track (on the left). From here we re-track out steps , but this time it’s all down hill from here back to the carpark.
Level of Difficulty
Medium, with a couple of steep bits thrown in for good measure
Total Loop Time
About 5 hours (Spring 2011)