Upper Mangatawhiri Track & Mangatangi Track Loop, Hunua Ranges
Head to Upper Mangatawhiri Dam at the end of ARA drive, off Moumoukai Road. You can park next to the fence by the gate entrance.
We start off though the gate (pedestrian access only) on a gravel road that forks left (upwards) and right (downwards). We head left up Waterline Road. After a few minutes we are at the base of the Dam and a junction. Straight ahead, the Waterline Road continues and to the right Lilburne Road crosses over the dam.
We head right . Whilst crossing the dam, on our left we look over reservoir which has previously had ducks and swans visible, but not on this morning as it was windy. On the right is a paddock with sheep and lambs. At the other side of the dam we cross a bridge looking across at the patterns of water as they overflow and then see the water flow beneath and down the spillway imagining what a cool waterslide that it would make. From here the winding road slopes upwards offering views every now and then of the Upper Mangarawhiri Reservoir. In the course of this road walk, we also pass three tracks on our right: Pukapuka Track, Goss Track and the Rata Ridge Track.
After close to an hour we reach the end of Lilburne Road where we come across
Piggots campsite on our left, which is a wee flat patch of grass with a picnic table and small hut with four bunk beds. Also here there is a big pile of gravel and stock pile of wood where it looks like DoC are in the process of covering up mother natures slight gradients with unnecessary gravel and stairs. Straight ahead is a gravel path which is the start of Ernies Track. After about 20 metres is a junction. On the right, is the other end of the loop for the Rata Ridge Track. Straight ahead, Ernies Track continues on some more gravel and some new stairs. After a few minutes we get past all the unnatural gravel and stairs and we are on a bit of a peak with a clearing. There’s a great view from here too. On the left we can see right out across the Hunua Ranges, across Auckland to the Waitaks and the Manukau Heads. On the right we can makes out some of the Coromandel Ranges. The track then dips down and back into the bush on the undulating track.
After close to 40 minutes we then reach our junction. Straight ahead the Ernies Track continues, and on the right is the Upper Mangatawhiri Track. We head right. The track starts off downwards and it’s not long before we cross the top of a small stream. This track is undulating, but has more uphill so the track gains height as it goes along. This track is marked with yellow triangles, which can at times be a tad harder to spot than the orange ones, so you need to pay attention. After about 40 minutes we pass the junction for the Mine Road Track on the left. We continue straight on and down again where we find a spot sheltered from the wind for morning tea of Chainui and Golden Crunch Cookies. Refuelled we carry on, we notice as we get higher there is a lot more moss about covering the trees and some of it
hanging down as well.
After about 2 ¼ hours we reach the end of the track at a T junction of the Mangatangi Track going both, left (towards K Trig) and right (towards Rata Ridge Track). We head right. We continue to make our way through lots of mossy trees, but this track has more flat parts amongst the mostly downwards track. After a while the track splits in two, both heading downwards in the same direction (that link up again), except to the right looks freshly cut. We take the right and pass by some really cool massive fungi. From here on, the person who cut this track was overzealous and pretty much butchered it. It was cut unnecessarily wide and many epiphytes and trees were cut down. There were even roots underfoot that were cut, I don’t think this butcher was a nature lover, nor grasped the concept that roots hold up trees. From here there was less need to follow the yellow markers, we just followed the trail of destruction (hopefully some of this has grown back by the time you read this).
After a while we find a nice spacious spot on the ridge with almost dry leaves
underfoot, so we make a stop for lunch of Mushroom Omelette, Harrissa &
Hummus Sarnies and a nice hot cuppa. Energised we continue on, still heading
constantly down. Towards the end of this track, the downwards gradient through
the ferns gets pretty steep and heads all the way down to the Konini Stream
which you can hear well before you see it. The crossing is easy as its fairly
shallow. On the other side there are orange markers and the track heads upwards
at a steepish gradient for about 15 minutes or so.
After about 2 ½ hours we reach the end of the Mangatangi Track at a T junction of the Rata Ridge Track going both left and right. We head right. This track is leafy underfoot, narrow in parts, pretty flat with a just a slight upwards gradient and winds
around the side of the hill. It passes a few trickling streams attracting the purple and green parataniwha. We are even treated to a wee waterfall too.
After close to half an hour we reach the end of the track at the T junction of
the gravel part of Ernies Track going left and right. We head left and back track the 20 metre or so path where the track ends at Piggots Campsite and Lilburne road. From here we continue to back track down the road all the way back passing the Upper Mangatawhiri Dam and we arrive back at the car about an hour later.
Total tramp time was 8 hours.
Level of Difficulty
8 Hours (Spring 2012)