Zion Loop Track
Head to Karekare beach carpark.
Head upwards to your left and cross the bridge, then head right towards the beach and the Pohutukawa Glade Walk, walking alongside the stream.
You will pass the Cave Rock Track on your left. About 2 or 3 minutes later you will see the sign for the Zion Hill Track on your left.
This track starts off on a gravel walkway heading upwards and has a few steps as well. There are plenty of lush green Nikaus fed by the stream below of Morere gully. It doesn’t take long to get a few views of Karekare beach & estuary below, and of course the higher you get, the better the views are . After about 20 minutes you come out the bush and the track is quite exposed surrounded by gorse and wind sculpted manukas. The views from here are awesome.
The track here is also a bit steep and has slippery orange mud when wet. The Manukas get bigger then you come across a slightly steeper track part and then you’re just about back in the bush when you see a small track to a bench on the right side of the hill so you can sit and enjoy the spectacular view of the beach and rocks below and hear the crashing of the waves. Back on the track it continues steadily upwards. Every now and then great views reveal themselves.
After about 40 minutes or so you reach somewhere around the top, you reach the junction of the Zion Ridge Track to your left. We continue straight on the Zion Hill Track. Along the way, the trees part and there is a marvellous view of Pararaha Bay and Whatipu beach beyond (you’ll know when you see it). After while the track starts to descend which is nice on the legs after all that up. At the bottom the track crosses the tranquil Waihuna Stream. There is a bit of space to the side of the track right next to the stream making for a perfect place for a cuppa (& some golden crunch cookies).
Well rested we continue on upwards on a nice easy gradient. The canopy of the bush is really dense here and the light is a lot dimmer with a green hue. After about 15 minutes you come to the T junction where the Zion Hill track ends. The Buck Taylor Track goes both right (downwards towards the beach – Pararaha Bay), and left (upwards towards Lone Kauri Rd) . We head left and upwards quite steadily, there are plenty roots under foot and there is less light here too where the sun hardly penetrates the canopy above with plenty of Puriri & Nikau Trees.
After about 45 minutes we reach the top and come across a junction where the Buck Taylor Track continues straight ahead (towards the carpark on Lone Kauri Rd) and on the left is the start of the Zion Ridge Track. We head left. This track is fairly flat and easy going and every now and then you get a sneak peak of the views outwards. There are also some cool Puriri Trees here too.
It doesn’t take long (about 30 minutes or so) before you arrive back at the junction where the track meets up at the Zion Hill Track again (going left and right). We head right and back track the way we had come up previously. This time you can enjoy the views without having to stop & turn around.
About 3 hours from starting out we arrive back down the bottom and the end of this loop for a bit of an explore around the Cave Rock Track. On this you can get a great view of the Karekare waterfall. We finish about 3 hours in total later, hungry in search of lunch.
Level of Difficulty
Total Loop Time
3 hours (Winter 2011)