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Sentinel Rock Track & back (Katikati)
Head to carpark at the end of Hot Springs Rd, State Highway 2, just outside of Katikati township.
We start out on the Tuahu Track which is leafy underfoot, wide and flat with a stream running alongside, giving the valley a nice ambiance. There are also a few young Kauri & Rimu about too.
After about 15 minutes we reach a junction. Straight ahead the Tuahu Track continues and on the left is the Tauhu Kauri Loop Track which is also the first part of the Sentinel Rock Track.
We head left and climb a few stairs and are shortly greeted by 2 the massive Kauri with a platform/boardwalk around it protecting their roots. The larger of the 2 is the Tuahu Kauri . A few metres afterwards along the platform we reach the junction (with signage) where Sentinel Rock Track splits off on the left and the Tauhu Kauri Loop Track continues straight ahead. We head left.
This track is fairly narrow compared to what we were just on and slopes upwards at a reasonable steady incline. The surrounding bush is vibrant green and there are plenty of leaves & tree roots underfoot. After about half an hour the upwards gradient eases up for a short while, also the bush comes less dense and quite roomy with plenty of ferns & palms about. At times the track is not so well defined, but there are plenty of markers to guide you through. Soon enough though, it heads upwards again and the bushes closes in a bit with plenty of surrounding epiphytes.
After 1 ¼ hours from starting out, we reach the Sentinel Lookout. Here there is a pretty cool viewpoint of the surrounding Kaimais and out to the Sentinel Rock. We continue straight ahead and downwards where the track narrows and is surrounded with bountiful tussock grass which obscures the track underfoot. From here you have to watch your footing as there are a few dips in the track and you can’t always see your feet clearly. After a few metres we see a sign advising that there is no further DoC maintenance. There is still a defined track, but there are no more orange markers.
We follow the track and we soon find a junction. We head right & upwards for a minute, where we come out on a rock view point in between the Lookout & Sentinel Rock. We have a wee look about and then go back on track and continue on the way towards Sentinel Rock. Shortly the incline steepens and we pass another sign saying Danger, Track Closed due to slips. Well at least DoC can say they covered themselves in case anyone wasn’t paying attention & slips. We continue past and the track is now a steep climb up rock (some of it wet & slippery) and tree roots. There is still a defined route to follow. You really have to be careful & take your time with your footing otherwise you could end up in serious trouble.
After about 20 minutes or so from the Lookout we reach the peak of Sentinel Rock. The view from here is superb, well worth the climb. There is an even better view of the Kaimai Ranges as well as the valley below. There is a terrific view towards Mt Maunganui and the islands out eastwards too. Up the top is a nice flat area, perfect for a lunch spot. The timing was perfect, so we tucked into our Salad & Sweet Corn Sarnies washed down by a lovely hot cuppa. After we had soaked in our magnificent view. We backtracked the way we came. It still took about 20 minutes or so to reach the Sentinel Lookout, but from there being all downhill, it only took about an hour to reach the car.
Total tramp Time: 3 ¼ hours.
Level of Difficulty
Easy with a moderate climb up the rock
3.25 Hours (Winter 2013)