Puriri - Kura - Omananui Track Loop
Head to Carpark at end Mt Donald McLean Road.
There is a track (on the Opposite side of the carpark from the walkway up to Mt Donald McLean summit) that heads down a small bank.
Once down there a couple of metres you will see a sign straight ahead for the Donald McLean Track going into the bush. A few more metres in and you will see the sign for the Puriri Ridge track on your left. We head left.
This track starts off fairly flatish with a nice bit of mud, inclines slightly upwards then, goes steadily downwards. At one point there is a clearing where the track is just rock and you get a pretty good view of the surrounding Waitaks and the valley below.
As the track continues down we notice a large patch of Kowhai flowers on the ground adding a nice bit of colour. After about 45 minutes we come across the a junction where the Puriri Ridge Track continues straight on and left and the Kura Track starts on the right. We head right. The Kura starts off downwards straight away down into the valley that we were just looking at previously on the rock clearing. Although you make your way downwards fairly quickly, this track is still pretty easy going. We manage to get a pretty good look at a Wood Pigeon that didn't seem too fussed on our presence. We pass a couple of small waterfalls streams and then we make our first (of 4 river crossings). The first one we decide is a peaceful looking spot for a cuppa so we can soak in our surroundings.
The next three crossings are in a fairly quick succession of one another, then continues flat and very easy going alongside the Whatipu stream. You’ll pass more Kowhai and head through a gate and out into a paddock along the fenceline until you reach the road where this track ends (about just under an hour from start of the Kura). From here we walk down the roadside towards Whatipu carpark looking up at the ominous peaks of Omananui Track above on the left. Once at the carpark we head past the information kiosk and cross the bridge to our left.
Here we see the Junction for the Omananui Track on the left. After about a minute of flat you head straight up on the orangey clay track. This is pretty steep and you become elevated quite rapidly giving you better views of Whatipu with each step. This track is quite exposed and there is plenty of gorse all covered in striking yellow flowers. There’s also a part of the track for about 20 metres or so of just rock, which you need to be careful of your footing.
After about 20 minutes you’ll see a sign on the left for the lookout. We continue past this time, as we’ve got a fair bit of climbing ahead of us. Once you get to the top of the first pretty big peak there is a welcoming seat at the top giving stunning views of the coastline below, the Manukau Heads and of Whatipu beach. It is here that the reality sets in of the highest peak ahead that you’ve yet to climb.
Before you can start on that though you need to head down again. This track consists of undulating peaks and troughs with astounding views either side. The side of the Manukau is pretty damn steep and you really need to pay attention to your footing at times. You know when you’re going up the big peak as it continues steeply for a fair while. Once at the top you are rewarded with a commanding panoramic view. This would be pretty good for a lunch spot, like most of the peaks, but it was a tad windy so we decided to wait until we went downwards for some tree cover.
After a magnificent lunch and a cuppa we continue onwards, the rest of the track seems a breeze after the biggest peak and we didn’t notice the up and down as much. Before we know it we’re back in full tree cover, still having a few views every now and then through the trees. The track flattens out for the last 20 minutes or so and before you know it you arrive at the road (approx 2 ¼ hours from start of this track).
Directly across the road you can see the start of the Puriri Ridge track. This starts off gently upwards, about 5 minutes later you see the junction for the Kura Track on your left. We continue past this and back track along and up the Puriri Ridge track. The slope is a bit more noticeable this time that we’re heading upwards. We arrive back at the carpark about 4 ¾ hours from start of the loop.
Level of Difficulty
Total Loop Time
4.75 hours -anticlockwise (Spring 2011)
4 hours -clockwise (Summer 2011)
4.25 hours -anticlockwise (Spring 2014)
4.75 hours -anticlockwise + caves (Summer 2015)