Head to Carpark at end Mt Donald McLean Road.
The track starts (on the side of the
carpark, Opposite from the walkway up to Mt Donald McLean summit) by heading down a small bank.
Once down there, a couple of metres further you will see a sign straight ahead for the Donald McLean
Track going into the bush. This track starts out fairly flat, with gravel underfoot. A few more metres in and we pass the junction of the
Puriri Ridge track on the left. The track slopes down at a gentle gradient before heading upwards again at a steady incline. The track then flattens out and it’s not long before we pass the junction of Bob Gordon Track on our left (currently closed), then a couple of minutes later we pass the junction for the Fletcher Track on our right. We continue straight ahead.
We notice the track has been recently widened to walk two abreast.Close to half an hour from starting out we reach the Karamatura Forks junction. The Bob Gordon Track (closed) is on the left, the Karamatura Track is on the right and the Huia Ridge Track is straight ahead. We continue straight ahead and the track closes in a bit more. After about 2 minutes or so we reach the junction of the Walker Ridge Track on our left and the Huia Ridge Track continues straight on. We head left. This track is really lush and vibrant green with plenty of Kio Kio on either side and there’s a bit more mud as well as a few roots under foot, there’re also a few wooden walkways as well. It starts of fairly flattish, then heads down and then up. Once at the top of the incline and about 20 minutes or so from starting this track, we reach the T junction intersection known as Orange Peel Corner.
The Odlins Timber Track is right and the Walker Ridge Track continues on the left. We head left and the track is pretty flat whilst also curving to the right. As it’s been constant rain for the last 2 weeks, so there is plenty of mud and decent sized puddles for us to enjoy. After a while the ridge becomes exposed and we are greeted by some views of the ocean and surrounding hills and valleys of the Waitaks. From here the track descends fairly steeply before heading up again and then into the covered bush. The track flattens out and there’s still plenty of mud about and we encounter some great big pine trees with cool knobbly roots . This is also a fairly sheltered spot from the gusting wind, so we decide to stop here for a nice hot cuppa and some golden crunch cookies. From here the track slopes downwards and there’s lots of reddy orange clay underfoot which was pretty slippery, being wet. After about an hour from orange Peel Corner the Walker Ridge track ends at a junction. Straight ahead is the Muir track and to the left is the Gibbons track.
We head left. This track is easy and flat with plenty of bid puddles for splashing and mud for
squelching and a few board walks here and there for those weirdos that don’t like Mother
Nature's mud. This track is mostly lined with manuka, cutty grass, toi toi and ferns and a fair amount of gorse too. It has recently been widened, so is quite exposed to the elements and
also in a couple of spots on the right, the growth has been cut right back to reveal spectacular views of beach and marshland below. One view point is pretty close to the rocky cliffside and gives yet another perspective. After a while the track starts to slope downwards and it’s not long before we get some great views of Whatipu and the Manukau Heads. The track then slopes down through tunnels of Manuka, then a tad steeper and we’re back in the bush again.
After close to an hour this track ends down the bottom. On the right is a track to the Caves and alongside is a wee stream heading out towards the beach. To the left is a fenced paddock
for the Whatipu Camp Ground. Straight ahead is a flat grassy walkway next to the fence.
We follow the fence line (without crossing over) around the parameter which starts off straight and then veers left. We follow this all the way until we reach an information kiosk/shelter. Here
there is a junction, there is a path leading to a bridge, then the carpark on the left and there is a track straight ahead to the beach and across another bridge. We head straight on.
On the other side of the bridge is another junction. To the right leads to the beach and to the left is the start of the Omananui Track. We head left where there are Hillary Trail posts also marking the way. After a few metres of flat this Orangey clay track slopes upwards at a pretty moderate gradient. The track has also been recently widened and also cut through the gorse to zig zag in parts to ease the gradient of the climb. As the steepness continues, it doesn’t take long to gain some height. As this track is exposed with just gorse about, we gain some pretty cool views. There is plenty of this gorse about too and it actually adds to the scenery with their bright yellow flowers. There’s also a part of the track which is just rock for about 20 metres which you need to be careful with your footing. We also pass a junction on our right
to a lookout, but we have the one above in mind. After close to half an hour we make it to the
top of the first peak. The view up here is stunning and there’s also a seat and a flatish bit of grass to sit on too. We decide this is the perfect spot for lunch of Nutmeat, Salad & Aioli Wraps, enjoying our Sarnies overlooking the panoramic views of the Manukau Heads – looking south all the way to Mt Kariori, Whatipu Beach, Paratutae Island, Rugged Omananui Coastline , the Valley below and the surrounding Waitaks. Also from here you look out at the highest peak yet to be climbed.
Refuelled we continue ahead, but before we can start on the next peak, the track heads
downwards again. This track consists of undulating peaks and troughs with amazing views on either side. There is a sheer drop in parts on the ocean side, so you really have to pay attention to your footing. At the bottom of this trough there is nice bush with Puriri and Nikau, but it’s not long before you’re out again and heading up on the fairly steep track surrounded by gorse. The gradient isn’t as bad as it looks from a distance, but it’s still fairly steep going and definitely gets the blood pumping. Once at the top marked with a Trig, we are rewarded with more spectacular commanding views from a slightly different perspective. From here we continue downwards and back into the tree cover. There are still a few views every now and then with plenty more cool Puriris and a few Kauris amongst other stuff. The track came out on the road at one point but goes back in the bush again a few metres later. In comparison to doing the last big peak we barely noticed the slight undulations. After 1 ¾ hours the Omananui track ended at Whatipu Rd.
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. There are some cool Puriri about here too. We continue past this and now the track is steadily uphill at a steeper incline. After a few minutes we are close to the top of the ridge and there is a rocky part that is quite exposed that also has a wonderful view of the valley below the ridge across and right down to Whatipu beach.
Then it’s onwards and upwards back into the bush, it’s not long before we reach the top of the ridge and it flattens out a bit, just undulating gradually. There’s plenty more decent mud
and puddles up here too. After about 45 minutes from starting out we reach the T junction of the Donald McLean track going left and right. We now head right and back track a few more minutes and back up the wee bank to the car.
Total loop time 5 ¾ hours
Level of Difficulty
5 .75 Hours - anticlockwise (Winter 2012)
5.5 Hours - clockwise (Autumn 2013)
4.75 Hours - anticlockwise (Winter 2015)
5.5 Hours - clockwise (Autumn 2016)