Odlins Timber - Walker Ridge - Muir - Pararaha Valley Track Loop
Head to Lone Kauri Rd Car Park.
Start out on Odlins Timber track to your left. After a few minutes of flat-ish track is descends rather abruptly down lots and lots of stairs (not the prissy Cascade stairs but more looser stairs to hold the earth in place) down red clay and rock. In the wet these were a tad slippery so we had to concentrate.
There had been a slight rainfall that morning and the bush also had a distinct smell of wet dog. After half an hour of this we cross the Pararaha Stream and also pass the junction (to the right) where the top of the Pararaha Valley Track starts .
After about another half hour we come across the Cowan Stream where there is a campsite (flat surface and a longdrop) which is a perfect place for cuppa tea and golden crunch biccies. From here the track ascends fairly steeply up red clay for a steady half hour with a few views looking down the Pararaha Valley. We then reach Orange Peel Corner (but there was no trace of any previous trampers eating oranges) where there is the junction of the end of the Oldlins Timber Track and the start of the Walker Ridge Track (and Karamatura forks to the left). We continue straight along the Walker Ridge.
This starts off fairly flat and there’s plenty of mud for squelching. This ridge becomes exposed with bountiful ocean and bush views and also descends fairly steeply before heading up again and then into the covered bush. The track flattens out and there’s still plenty of mud for us and we encounter some great big pine trees with cool knobbly roots (I know they’re not native, but they’re impressive all the same).
After an hour the track ends at the junction which meets up at the Gibbons Track (on the right) and the Muir Track straight ahead. We continue straight ahead and this track is all down. Since our last visit 4 months ago in June this track has dried up considerably and less slippery. There is also the addition of quite a few flowers about.
Once we get down the steepest part and arrive at the flat nikau part next to the tranquil stream, it’s not long before we come out into the clearing where you get the fabulous views of the other side of the Pararaha Valley (breath-taking every time). Then we climb down the steep rocky part with the assistance of the rope and down the zig-zaggy bit where we reach the end of the Muir track (after about 45 minutes) at the grass clearing next to the Pararaha stream and the shelter (and camp ground to the left) looking up the valley. There’s a junction here (past the wee track to the loos on the right) for the Pararaha Valley Track going in both directions (left and right). The left leads toward the beach and the Buck Taylor Track. Right heads up the Pararaha Valley Track.
It’s around lunchtime and we are so spoilt for choice of where to settle for a sarni and a cuppa. We go in the track a bit and find a nice rock in the sun, right on stream (simply beautiful). This track starts out easy enough alongside the stream and then ends. This route is pretty much just head up the stream, hop across on rocks where you can, wade where you have to (you will get wet feet) and every now and then a track will appear (keep your eyes peeled as they could be on either side & there are no markings) when the stream gets a tad too deep.
This track is a lot of fun making your way along rocks and over rapids and the scenery is spectacular with the valley walls on each side, the water, the rapids, the sun reflections, the trees ,etc. It’s all pretty tame until you get to the log jam (and one of quite a few waterfalls). There’s some great big old logs that must of been here since the old milling days. You really have to have your wits about you from this point on. You’ll need to do a bit of rock climbing and really pay attention and watch where you put your hands and your footing.
From here the wading in parts can get a bit deeper, at one point we were wading up to our waists. Now for finding the track you also need to look up (as well as side to side) to where any part looks slightly worn or trodden on. You’ll have to do more scrambling and rock climbing and even once up these ledges, they are pretty precarious goat tracks. At one point when we were pretty unsure of where to go next as the stream had got too deep due to pools and waterfalls (ie: which side of the cliff to attempt to scale) we spotted a small pink ribbon that some nice person tied to a tree. Looking up to the left we climbed up 3 metres of rock wall to an insane looking track (a bit of mud where grass should have been indicating that it had been used before) on the cliff side. Once up you look down at the falls (and the drop to the rocks and deep pools below) and also constantly keeping an eye on your footing and ensuring the roots you are holding on to will hold your weight.
We than came across a couple of planks about ¾ of a foot wide bolted into the side of the cliff and thankfully a black cable to hang on to. This track is truly exhilarating and at times you can really feel your heart pounding. There are a couple of parts clambering along these ledges of cliff sides, another part had a bit of red rope tied somewhere (we trusted that it was tied to somewhere secure on each side) which we were extremely thankful for. This was just before another precarious climb up another ledge (that fireman’s grip really came essential) .
We found as well as using our feet we had to climb up on our knees on a few occasions as well (a bit of grazing, battering and bruising to be endured). Soon enough we had completed the trickiest parts and the track appears once again next to the stream which seems pretty tranquil again giving you an option of wading or walking on firm ground.
After about 2 hours or so we come the end of the Parahara Valley Track where it comes out at the first stream crossing of the Odlins Timber Track. Then it was up half an hour of stairs and back to the car tired, wet and happy and with a slight feeling of relief we made it safely . Total loop time with morning tea and lunch stops was 5 ¾ hours. We definitely want to do the Pararaha Valley track again, maybe in high summer and just swim down (to avoid some of those crazy climbs). The Pararaha Valley track between the Oldins Timber Track and the Muir track is not on quite a few maps , we could see why as it can be pretty extreme in parts and the tracks poorly defined. It was still exhilarating and rewarding .
Level of Difficulty
Medium to Difficult
Total Loop Time
5.75 hours (Spring 2011)