Walker Stream Loop
Head to the carpark on Lone Kauri Rd.
We start out on the Odlins Timber Track on the left which is pretty flat. Once the track turns at a right angle to the right it slopes downwards followed by lots of steps. Under foot is rock & orangey brown clay which can be pretty slippery & very much so when wet. The plus side of it being wet, is that the moss on the side of the track becomes more green & vibrant.
After about half an hour we reach the crossing of the Pararaha Stream. On the other side of the stream is a junction. Straight ahead the Odlins Timber Track continues and on the right is an unmarked track alongside the stream. We head right and the track is quite over grown with ferns on both sides, but the muddy track underfoot is still defined from regular use. As the track becomes dense, there are noticeable track crossings as well, giving the option of going from side to side on the more predominant route.
Today we are continuing straight ahead on the same side, albeit thick in parts. About half an hour from starting out on the Pararaha Stream, the Cowans Stream feeds into it from the left. We cross over the Cowans Stream and continue straight ahead, downstream, also passing an unmarked track also on the left (running alongside, up the Cowans). We continue alongside the Pararaha Stream for a short while until we get to a point where we could hear the sounds of rapids and the route spits again. There is the option of heading right and down onto the rocks in the stream or heading upwards on the track and keeping to the same side.
We head straight ahead & upwards. This is a bit of a steep scramble, but there are plenty of roots & rocks to hold on to. As we get up the top, there is another junction giving you the option of going straight ahead or veering left. As we have gone straight ahead previously, we try the route to the left. We discover that the track to the left is just another loop and both these tracks head the same way. It’s not long before there is a bit of a precarious rock climb straight across and then downwards, which is a tad slippery in the wet. The drop below gives us plenty of incentive to really concentrate on our hand holds & footing. Once at the bottom again we continue on the streamside track which goes onto the rocks on the stream for a bit.
After about 1 ¼ hours from starting out we reach the tricking waterfall of where the Walker Stream feeds onto the Pararaha Stream on our left. There is a bit of a “track” to the left of this waterfall. We now leave the Pararaha Stream & head left up the side of the waterfall and follow the Walker Stream upstream. There are quite a few delightful we picturesque waterflows over mossy rocks to start with and then about 10 minutes or so we reach a beautiful & fairly high waterfall coming down from a pretty imposing rock face above.
We decide that heading to the right is our best option as there is a wee bit of a barely defined route. We scramble up the mud & rocks, zig zigging for a bit & making use of a few roots we make our way up the side of the waterfall into the bush and then following the sound of the water make our way back to towards the Walker Stream again. From the top of the waterfall is a pretty decent view and having the pohutukawa in flower adds a nice touch. We continue upstream, wading & rock hopping and scrambling over & under fallen logs & debris. There were plenty small rapids to make our way up and the rocks were extremely slippery. Also the bush is very dense up here growing right into the stream, so we found ourselves constantly ducking & pushing our way through whilst wading through the stream.
After about 1 ½ hours from starting out on the Walker Stream, we reach a junction where the stream noticeably splits in two. On the left the water trickles down the rocks from where the George Barr Stream feeds into the Walker Stream which continues flowing from our right. We decide these rocks between the intersecting streams make quite a tranquil & beautiful setting for our lunch of egg mayo sarnies & a nice cuppa. Refuelled we continue on our way noticing that the water flow is a fair bit less and the stream narrower. There is a lot more debris to climb over as well and at one part we discover the remains of a disused dam creating a wee obstacle to clamber over too.
After about 3 ½ hours from starting the Walker Stream, it is more of a creek and we continue heading up the valley created by the flow of water. As the water becomes less visible, the bush encroaches making our way upwards more difficult making our way through the supplejack amongst plenty of other stuff. About half an hour or so later, there is no more sign of water. From here we continue straight ahead & upwards and make our way through the extremely dense bush consisting mostly of supplejack, bush lawyer, cutty grass & epiphytes reducing our visibility ahead and making our way forward arduous.
After about 5 hours from the start of the Walker Stream we finally come out at the Walker Ridge Track covered head to toe in mud, cuts & scratches and with our clothes & packs a bit ripped with quite a feeling of elation. The Walker Ridge Track went both left (towards Orange Peel Corner) and right (towards Muir Track). We headed left. This part of the Walker Ridge Track was flat with plenty of dense Kio Kio growing over from both sides.
After about 10 minutes or so we reach the junction known as Orange Peel Corner. To the right the Walker Ridge Track continues toward the Huia Ridge Track and straight ahead is the Odlins Timber Track. We continued straight ahead where the track heads downwards on orangey brown clay which was pretty slippery being wet. Occasionally in between gaps in the trees we got glimpse of the Pararaha valley on our left.
After about half an hour the track levels off and we come across the Cowan Stream & the campsite (flat surface with a longdrop). We cross the stream and the track heads up again flattens off a bit . At one point there is a bit of a clearing on the right with a decent view over the Waitaks. We stopped here to soak in the view & enjoy a cuppa .Afterwards the track heads downwards again.
About 20 minutes later from our last stream crossing, we reach the Pararaha Stream which we pass the junction of the unmarked track on our left that we took hours previously. We cross the stream and head upwards on the stairs back tracking for about half an hour making way back to the carpark.
Total Loop time about 7 hours.
Level of Difficulty
7 Hours (summer 2012)