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«Russell Forest Track - 18km / 8hr From the Waikare landing, Waikare Valley Road past the Waikare School, urupa (cemetary) and farms 3km to a ...»

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Russell Forest to Whangarei Heads

(Map 014, 015, 016, 017, 018)

Northern Start Waikare

Southern End Jetty at McLeod Bay (southern end), Whangarei Heads

Distance 137km

Time 6 days

Tramping Standard Tramping track




A RAHUI (traditional Maori precautionary closure) HAS BEEN APPLIED AT THE PUNARUKU ROAD END OF THE TRACK


Russell Forest Track - 18km / 8hr From the Waikare landing, Waikare Valley Road past the Waikare School, urupa (cemetary) and farms 3km to a roadbridge across the Waikare River. It then begins to narrow, and after a further kilometre you must ford the Waikare River. On a good day this is no more than ankle deep, and you can cross adjacent to the twisted remains of a concrete power pole laid on the river bed. It's a good opportunity to wash your boots and equipment on your way in and out of the forest - Russell Forest has confirmed cases of kauri dieback. After rain, it can be dangerous.

The track ahead runs parallel to the Papakauri Stream. This track is a Maori road, a surveyed access into Maori land blocks where the public does not have access by right. It was made part of Te Araroa after a series of meetings at Waikare Marae with the landowners. Please treat it with respect. After 1.5km the track tails out, and for the next 4km you're walking up the stream.

This 4km across shoals and boulders will take longer than you anticipate, and you shouldn't attempt the route after or during heavy rain. If conditions are right though, it’s a beaut walk.

Where the stream finally intersects the Russell Forest Walkway, follow signage left (east) out to Papakauri Road/Russell Rd.

Turn right to head south on Russell Rd. From the junction of Punaruku Road & Russell Rd, continue south passing the Oakura turnoff (2.7km) and the small settlement of Mokau (4km) until reaching the junction of Russell Rd & Webb Rd, Helena Bay.

From the junction of Russell & Webb Rd, follow Webb Rd 5km SE past the old Helena Bay School and up a steep hill past Ngahau Bay (Teal Bay to some). After another 700m, Webb Rd ends at the junction with Mimiwhangata & Kaiik anui Rd. Tak e the right fork and continue on Kaiik anui Rd for another 2.6k m to the start of DOC's Morepork Track.

Note: This narrow, windy gravel roadwalk passes through bush and has steep drop-offs with great views over the countryside. Occasionally, there are cattle belonging to local farmers grazing or being moved on the road.

Morepork-Onekainga Track - 13km / 4-5hr From Kaiikanui Rd, enter DoC’s Kaiikanui Forest and follow a well-benched track for about 4 kms, past Hansens Hill (where the bench turns sharply NE).

Be aware that around this 4km mark, the track moves off into the bush to the right off the bench. At this junction, there are few large trees for markers so it can be missed. The route follows markers through trees to meet up with the Forest’s NE boundary fence. It follows the fenceline much of the way down into a gully before a steep climb up to a cleared and grassy high point (218m) with spectacular views out to the coast and the Poor Knight Islands. You are now on private land belonging to the Waetford whanau, so please respect the privilege.

DOC’s estate falls away to the south and if needed, there is a rough track taking the SE spur down to a farm track which meets up with the end of Halvorson Rd.

Continue on old bush tracks in a SE direction down ridgelines to some pretty little streams before climbing steeply all the way up again (174m down then up). At the top, you climb stiles onto well-formed farm tracks. After 500m, turn off the farm track and cross 200m through a small pine plantation (no markers allowed on pines) to a boundary fence just west of the Onekainga Trig (227m) and more views. Stay on the track and follow the fenceline past the pine and then down the ridgeline in native bush for

1.5km. By now you have left the Waetford block, and are in the Harman’s farm and just as you leave the bush, have lovely views over the inner Whananaki estuary.

For the last 800m, you begin following the markers down the fenceline and then cross a pasture (look for the lone tree) then down the other fenceline and along a small creek. There may be magnificent Charolais bulls grazing. If so, walk slowly and quietly, waiting for them to move if need be. At the southern end of the property, over the stile, you emerge onto Whananaki North Rd.

Please note: Private farm land and Kiwi and Pateke nesting area; Open daylight hours only; NO dogs, horses, bikes, guns, fires or camping. Electric fences.

Walk 800m SE along Whananaki North Rd. Look for the track sign in bush on the south side. The track leaves the road and circles around a paddock fenceline to reach a stop bank on the side of the Whananaki Estuary. From there, the track follows along the Estuary to the Whananaki Footbridge, entrance to the Whananaki Holiday Park and the Village.

Whananaki Coastal Track - 7km / 2.5hr From Whananaki North village, there’s a track next to the school which leads to the footbridge. Once across, head east along the estuary (if the tide is high, there is a 1km detour by road around the back of the settlement) around the small settlement and over the spit before heading south on Pukekawa Rd parallel to the shore.

There is a possible diversion via a short, steeper track to the Capitaine Bougainville Memorial on the north point of Oruaea Bay. Great views from here along the coast.

Please note that there is limited beach access from the track – i.e. only at Sheltered Bay.

Beyond Pitokuku Point, a grassy track goes behind private baches and over a stile to join up with a well-graded pohutukawalined farm track/driveway with excellent views of the coast and the Poor Knight Islands. Continue on the driveway until reaching the gate at McAuslin Rd.

Leaving the gate at the north end of McAuslin Rd, head south down the road and turn east onto Matapouri Road. Follow the road (looking out for traffic) past Sandy Bay and Woolleys Bay, enjoying the beautiful beaches as you go. Just before Matapouri Bay, the road climbs over a small hill and you pass DOC’s walk way to Whale Bay. On coming down the road into Matapouri, tak e Clements Rd to the west and follow it for 2 k m. Near the end, there are several letterboxes on the NW side of the road. On the south side of the road, you’ll see a stile by a gate. Just through the gate is the information sign for the next track.

Matapouri Bush Track - 7km / 2.5-3.5hr From the Clements Rd stile, the track follows a pasture driveway where horses may be grazing. From here, the track climbs through delightful private pasture lands, pine forest and regenerating bush where significant efforts are being made to preserve kiwis and remove their predators.

It then enters Matariki Forest’s harvested pine and eucalyptus plantation where you can currently enjoy occasional views of the Coast.

You then follow the orange markers SE down a forest road (unsigned Seaview Track) for approx 1 km, before turning west into another forest road (unsigned Oyster Track). This forest road dissects a DOC native bush reserve and passes Tane Moana, a giant kauri tree, before coming back into forest lands on a high point with great views up and down the valley (now that the pines have been cut).

At a skid site, the road merges into a narrower, metalled track that descends through newly harvested & replanted forest land.

Leaving the forestry lands at a stile, the last 200m of the track crosses pasture to another stile. After short walk through bush, you emerge onto Waiotoi Rd, above Ngunguru. Follow this downhill to the village.

Ngunguru From Waiotoi Rd, turn right/SW onto Ngunguru Rd. Just 200m down this road is the Ngunguru Village shops. If you need food supplies, now is a good time to get them as the next shops on the trail are 2-3 days walk away.

The Ngunguru River Boat Crossing is another 1km walk past the shops SW along Ngunguru Rd.

The Ngunguru River Boat Crossing is another 1km walk past the shops SW along Ngunguru Rd.

Take the first left into Papaka Rd and walk 80m to the edge of the estuary.

It is essential to ring or txt James Johnston 24 hrs prior to your boat ride on 021 0242 1632.

James will do his best to pick you up at a time that suits you - text ahead to ask.

The boat arrives at Nikau Bay Camp and Cabins. Here you have the option of staying the night either tenting or in a cabin. Hot showers and kitchen facilities are also available, all at discounted rates to Te Araroa walkers.

From Nikau Bay walk W for 8km along the scenic Ngunguru Ford Rd to connect to the Mackerel Track - which begins to the S just where the gravel road becomes sealed.

Should you not wish to take this route, please see the road walk alternative.

Mackerel Forest Track - 4km / 1.5hr The track passes through private forest and may be subject to occasional closures due to forestry operations.

Open daylight hours only.

NO dogs, guns, vehicles, camping or fires.

Note: Two river crossings - never cross flooded rivers.

From the forestry gate, the track follows Mackerel Rd (a forest road) largely downhill through a pine forest. At the bottom of the hill, it crosses the Waitangi River which is usually knee/thigh depth. From there, the track follows the river bank through a recently harvested area of the forest.

It then turns South to meet and cross the Taheke River – at the shallower ford between the deeper pools - and clambers up the southern bank. The track continues on the true right river bank until meeting an old logging track that climbs steeply up and around a pine-covered hill before dropping down to a logging gate on Pataua North Road.

From Mackerel Forest Track logging gate, follow Pataua North Road 13km to the Pataua North settlement.

**Please note that once you near the coast, it is private land between the road and the beach so unfortunately walking the beach is not an option here - please stick to the road.

Taiharuru Estuary Route - 7km / 2hr From the Pataua River footbridge, walk south on the main road out of Pataua. After 1½km, look for a Council Reserve, on the left where Pataua South Rd runs along the Taiharuru Estuary.

Tide information: Check the best times for walking on www.niwa.co.nz/our-services/online-services/tides (use Marsden Point information) Walk through reserve, then SE along the shoreline, keeping just outside the mangrove edge. As you reach the sandspit on a corner, the shoreline turns sharply west, and the end of Beasley Rd is quite close on the right.

Alternatively - to enjoy some Northland hospitality - just after the sandbank a wide gap in the mangroves leads past electric fencing to an unfenced grass area. Through the gate is Beasley Road. Turn left onto the gravel road, and Tidesong B&B is 400m ahead.

Drinks, meals, a rest, campsite, beds available, and a boat crossing to keep feet dry.

www.tidesong.co.nz or ph 09 4361959.Happy to accept Koha (donation).

If you are ready to cross, head for the furthest white pole ahead (orange marker) marking the shallowest crossing place.

Look for the prominent bare clay bank, south side, (orange marker), and walk up to cross the stile on top. Follow the SE fenceline over pasture, then along a driveway to Taiharuru Road (opposite #406).

Note This accessway is public land. Please ensure at all times that you do not enter private property Turn SW down Taiharuru Rd for 500m to Harambee Rd. 1km up this road is the small parking area.

Kauri Mountain Track - 3km / 1.5hr The track starts by winding up a long driveway, past private homes. (Use the stiles provided and leave gates as you find them as sheep sometimes graze the driveway). The coastal views north are spectacular.

Near the top of the driveway, follow orange markers to climb over a stile & up through pasture, then regenerating bush to the trig (where the view is blocked by bush). From there, follow the orange-marked bush track down the southern side to Kauri Mountain Rd.

Tide information: Check the best times for walking on www.niwa.co.nz/our-services/online-services/tides.

Ocean Beach Walk - 9km / 3hr Wildlife Sanctuary - avoid dune nesting sites - NO dogs allowed.

From the carpark, walk 2km SE down this gravel Kauri Mountain Rd to a farm gate (look for TA logo, orange marker). Enter the paddock here, leaving this gate as you find it, and follow the farm track across a paddock heading straight towards Ocean Beach. A few clay steps cut into the bank take you down to the beach.

When you're first on the beach there is a stream/occasional estuary that changes shape a lot - do check it before attempting to cross and on some occasions, if the tide is high you're best to wait for the tide to drop a little.

Head south down the beach running parallel with DOC’s Ocean Beach Recreation Reserve.

Near the southern end of the beach, a sand track leads up to a carpark, toilet and Ocean Beach Rd.

Tide information: Check the best times for walking on www.niwa.co.nz/our-services/online-services/tides.

Please take care when opening gates that you leave them as you find them. There may be farm animals on this track.

Bream Head (Te Whara) Track - 7km / 5-6hr Please note: Low tide is preferably the best time for the very first part of this track.

Tide information: Check the best times for walking on www.niwa.co.nz/our-services/online-services/tides.

This is a conservation area - no domestic animals are allowed (including birds, cats and dogs) Walk to the southern end of Ocean Beach and climb to the ridge beyond. The track is well formed but steep. Continue on past a WWII naval radar station to the Bream Head/Te Whara summit. It’s worth the short detour to the viewing platform. The rock formations & coastal views are spectacular.

Half way along the ridgeline, there is the track exiting to the north/Ocean Beach Rd and another going steeply down to the south & Peach Cove. This is a detour - see details in extra info.

Continue along the ridge to Mt Lion (Matariki) then down a lot of steps to Urquharts Bay, passing the Busby Head loop track.

Great coastal views from many parts of the track.

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