Waiorongomai Valley, Waiorongomai streeam, old battery, low level track, kauri grove track, main ridge track, bendigo battery, kaimai ranges, stream tracks, waterfalls, kauri
Waiorongomai Stream + Kauri Grove Track (Kaimai Ranges)
Head to Waiorongomai Valley carpark.
From here you can see & hear the Waiorongomai Stream before you.
We pass by the Old Battery (from the mining days) on the left and we go down into the stream and then head upstream . This starts off mostly by rock hopping with just a wee bit of wading.
As the stream is a fair way below the track, away from the masses, you can really appreciate just the sounds of nature, with stream bubbling away and the birdsong filling the rest of the valley . As we had a beautiful sunny day as well, it was just magic with the sun glimmering off the trickling water. Fairly early on, we pass a bit where you need to wade past your waist and where there is a track on the left (which heads up to the Low level Track) where people must come for a bit of a dip. From there though, the stream is pretty sedate for pretty much the first half and the rapids are very small making the going pretty easy and the wading mostly shallow. The rocks underfoot are still slippery through, so you still have to concentrate. As for a morning tea spot, well you’re spoilt for choice. It was easy to find a nice spot on a bend with a wee pebbly “beachy” bit in a sunbeam to enjoy a moment to stop & soak in our surroundings.
The stream is quite similar for the first part. After about 1 hour 45 minutes we pass by the junction where the Kauri Grove Track crosses over the track. You can spot this as there are a couple of markers More prominent on the left, than the right) and the remnants of a slip on the right and a big boulder on the left. We continue past and from here the stream gets a bit more interesting. The rocks get considerably larger and so do the rapids. There are also some beautiful clear, deep swimming holes (atleast about four) and also a couple of small trickling waterfalls over lush green moss. We find that we can easily climb around the waterholes, well most of them, there are a couple of bits of waist deep wading. We do make the most of one of these swimming spots and jump in for a refreshing dip. After another hour since the last crossing we pass another crossing with prominent orange markers on both sides. We were not sure on what this track was, we decided to save this one for another time. Close to 15 minutes later we passed the last swimming hole with a waterfall ahead & to the side before we reached the other crossing of the Kauri Grove Track which also had prominent markers . This making our leg on the stream around 3 hours.
We stopped in a sunny spot by the stream crossing & tucked into our lunch of Cajun Wraps. From here we headed right, off the Waiorongomai Stream and onto the Kauri Grove Track. This track is very overgrown and there a quite a few markers missing or obscured by growth (so best not to solely rely on these). This track heads steadily upwards (via a small clearing for a small tent perhaps) for about 45 minutes before heading downwards again into another smaller valley where we cross a rocky stream with just a small trickle of water. After crossing this stream, the track heads steeply upwards amongst a grove of kauri. Part of this track by the larger kauri, is just about vertical. Around the top (about an hour from starting this track) there are a lot of epiphytes about, making the track very difficult to make out. Here we also come across a junction with a flaking, broken sign post. The Main Ridge Track is to our left and the Kauri Grove Track (signage states: To Bendigo Battery) is to our right.
We head right. We pass through plenty more epiphytes growing over the track as well as climbing over and under fallen trees and branches. After a while the track heads downwards, the trees are less dense around this part and the forest floor is leafy making the track difficult to distinguish and the markers are few & far between. This bit gets a tad tricky and you really need to keep your eyes peeled for any sign (including broken branches) where the track leads. There are two points on the way down where you really have to hunt about. Soon enough the track heads steeply down and we can hear the sounds of Waiorongomai Stream and we come out just by the slip, cross over the stream and veer left until we find the markers for the other side of the track.
We head upwards and after a minute reach a junction . To the left and downwards leads to the remains of the Bendigo Battery and to the right and upwards leads to Low Level Track. We head right and a minute or so later we’re at the junction of the Low Level Track going both left & right. This made this leg of the tramp (Kauri Grove Track) just over 2 1/2 hours. We head left on the Low Level Track and we pass a small tunnel on the right going right through the rock. The track is wide enough to walk two abreast for most parts and gently slopes down and winds its way down past a couple of small waterfalls flowing onto creeks that we pass over. We also pass by the unmarked track that heads down to the stream for that first pool that we waded through. After about 45 minutes we reach the end of the track above the carpark, overlooking farmland and a view of the rest of the Kaimais.
Total Tramp Time about 6 ½ hours.
Level of Difficulty
6.5 Hours (Autumn 2013)