Head to Home Track carpark on Piha Rd (not long after the Anawhata Rd turn off on the right).
This track starts off on a flat before heading slightly downwards on an easy going track with a wee bit of mud. After about 15 minutes or so, we pass the junction on the left of the Marguerite track. From here the Home Track gets a tad narrower and is on the side of the ridge. You’ll need to concentrate on your footing is it’s a fair drop on your right, down to the bush below.
You’ll also get a few nice views out over the Waitaks too.
After another 15 minutes we reach the junction where the Home Track continues straight ahead and the Centennial Track is on the right. We head right. This track is all
downwards. Every now and then we get views on the left and we can see the top of Lion Rock and a wee bit of Piha. On the way down wee pass a cool Kauri that has fallen over, with two of the branches growing upwards that have become trees in their own right. After about 15 minutes we pass the junction of the Piha Valley Track on the left. Then it’s down a few stairs and we reach the Piha Stream and some of the remains of Black Rock Dam (there are plenty more remains downstream, but that’s another adventure – for warmer weather).
Directly across the stream is an unmarked track (used to be known as the Rickers Track which links on to the Forbes Track), but we head upstream for a metre or two and then cross over, following the markers as we are continuing on the Centennial Track. After about 2 minutes we reach the junction of the Forbes Track on our left and the Centennial Track is straight ahead. We continue straight on. It’s not long before the Centennial Stream appears to the right of the track (which looks like a nice spot to stop) and further ahead there is lots of the green and purple Parataniwha about. This track also heads gradually upwards at a pretty easy gradient. It’s not too long until you get a bit of height and you get a few views of the opposite side of the valley. There’s a wee bit of mud and plenty of moss here too.
As we get higher, the side of the valley becomes rocky, and closer to the top there is a
little bit of rock climbing and there are some rock stairs on the side of this rock part of the valley and a nice hand rail to keep you feeling safe. This is quite exposed and you get a spectacular view of the valley below . From here the track flattens out and after a while we reach the junction of the Quarry Track on the left and the Centennial Track continues straight on. We head left.
This track is fairly flat and to our delight there’s a fair bit of mud too. After about 10 minutes we pass the junction on our right to the McElwain Lookout Track. The Quarry Track slopes a bit more downwards and there’s even more mud too. After about half an hour we pass the junction of the top of the Forbes track on our left and then a few minutes later we arrive at the cross road Mckenzie Junction. This is a grassy clearing with the McKenzie Track ahead veering to the left, the Maungaroa Ridge Track ahead veering to the right and hard right is the Poleline Track. At this point the sun came out from behind the clouds, so we decided this was the perfect spot for a cuppa and some trusty Golden Crunch cookies.
Now revitalised, we head down the Maungaroa Ridge Track which was pretty straight and downhill to start off. The track is also down hard orangey brown clay which was pretty slippery, as it was wet. Being on a ridge we received on occasional glimpses of the valleys below on either side. About 2/3’s of the way on this track it starts to go up again fairly steadily and there’s plenty of more young Kauri trees. At the top of this hill there’s some pretty cool mossy Puriri trees and also the growth about and the bush is less dense.
After close to 40 minutes of this track we meet up with the T junction of the Maungaroa Lookout Track (going left and right). We head left. This track descends and has a few more views of Piha beach here and there. We also pass some pretty cool Puriri trees all gnarled with various holes giving them plenty of character. We come to a part in the track that forks. There are no signs for this junction, but we explored previously. To the left leads up to an exposed rocky peak/outlook and the track to the right, continues downwards. As it’s pretty cold and windy, we head right and downwards at a pretty steady pace and before we know it we’re right down the bottom, right below the rocky peak that stands over the valley. This is now a grassy clearing with lots of flax we
follow the track towards a wooden bridge across the Piha Stream and arrive at
Glen Esk Road about 25 minutes from our start of the track.
From here we head left for two or three minutes walk to the roads end at a carpark, where we see the sign for the Kitekite Falls track next to a huge hollowed out tree stump. This track is gravel and designed for the masses that come to visit the
Kitekite falls. It starts off flat at first alongside the Glen Esk Stream you will pass a bridge on the left (leading to the Bryers Walk on the other side) and then the track gently slopes upwards. After about 20 minutes of so we reach another junction. The Kitekite Falls Track heads left and across the bridge over the stream and the Knutzen Track starts off straight ahead. We continue straight ahead and still on the easy upwards gradient. We also pass a wee trickle of a waterfall over a small bridge and then once around the corner we soon get the first sighting of the Kitekate Falls which is also the best viewpoint of them . There’s an information board and picnic table spot here
too. The track then heads downwards.
After about 15 minutes from starting this track we reach the bottom of the falls and soak in the tranquil beauty. As it’s a cold Winter’s day we have the place to ourselves (quite a rare event). Across the bottom of the falls the Knutzen continues and heads upwards on the other side of the falls. After a few minutes we climb some stairs and reach the junction of the Kitekite track going left (down) and right (up). We head right
and up . This track heads steadily upwards and has gradual zig-zags. After about 20 minutes we reach the top of the Falls and a junction. Straight ahead is the Connect Track (leading to the Winstone Track) and right heads across the stream to the Kauri Grove Track. We head right. When you cross the stream, there are some water pools here and you can see where the rock has been carved out where a dam once was. After the crossing, the track is flat and runs alongside the Glen Esk Stream.
After about 10 minutes we reach the junction intersection of Ussher Cross where the Winstone Track goes both left and right and the Kauri Grove Track continues ahead. We continue straight on. About 5 minutes or so later the track is right by a bend in the stream and a nice flat area under some Nikau trees. We decided this was the perfect spot for lunch, so we stopped and tucked into a beautiful Nut Meat, Olive & Love Mayo Wrap and a nice hot cuppa. All refuelled we continue on, the track becomes more muddy and there are more tree roots to go over so you have to keep an eye on your footing. After about 20 minutes we reach the Junction for the Lucy Cranwell Track on the left and the
Kauri Grove Track continues straight on. We now head left.
This track starts off going downwards to a stream crossing, then after that it’s steadily upwards. The Lucy Cranwell Track is beautiful with plenty of moss and a variety of different trees and had plenty of Tuis singing to each other. The track is fairly narrow in parts along the side of the ridge and you get some great views on the right, over the tree tops and the valley below. After about 35 minutes later we reach the junction of the Marguerite Track heading both left and right. We head left. This track undulates a bit, but nothing too hard out. There’re plenty of roots, uneven track and mud underfoot . Also the canopy is quite thick in parts, so there’s plenty of moss and cool fungi and Parataniwha too . There’s a bit of ducking under stuff as well and also a very small stream crossing. After about 40 minutes we reach the T junction of the Home Track going left and right. We now head right and back track to the car and arrive back at the car park around 20 minutes later.
Total Loop Time: just under 6 ½ hours.
Level of Difficulty
Easy to Medium
6.5 Hours -anticlockwise (Winter 2012)
6 Hours - clockwise (Spring 2014)
5.75 Hours - clockwise (Winter 2015)