Sunday, 27 December 2009

Waitakere Ranges Regional Park: Pararaha Stream and surrounds


Although spending the first 20-odd years of my life in Auckland the Waitakere Range, to the west of the city is an area I have not explored.


Where in Auckland do you find a Topographical Map?

As a Wellington resident and tramper over the past decade, I have been startled by the number of lost persons requiring assistance from search and rescue in this area. At times it seemed like it was a rite of passage for being an Aucklander to get lost in the Waitakere Ranges!! On Boxing Day I visited four different outdoor equipment stores on Auckland’s North Shore in an effort to buy some topographical maps of this area. To my disgust most of these stores did not stock topographical maps at all, looked at me strangely when I used a big long word like “topographical” and referred me to the bookstore that could offer me no more than a a street directory for my car or a globe for my desk!! The one store that seemed to fully understand the word “topographical” mostly had maps of the sections of the Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks that are well tracked, but in the lower half of the South Island.


Fortunately they were able to find a single copy of “NZTopo50-BB30ptBB31”. However, due to the peculiarities of the new NZTopo50 grid, even though this map includes some the adjacent BB31 map it still contains over 70% sea. This gave me coverage for about one third of the range, in the south-western corner of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park.

Pararaha Stream and Surrounds

Trip Data:
Distance: 10.8 km 1,089 Calories
Time: 4:03 22min/km
Elevation: Ascent: 1696m Descent: 1685m
Ride Data: Garmin Connect Player
Location: Auckland, NZ 27 December 2009

Buck Taylor Track

My nephew, Jamie and I headed down the Buck Taylor Track from the Lone Kauri Rd

carpark. This track begins as a very broad, well cut walking track at the carpark before becoming narrower, muddier and steeper tramping track with the easily negotiated rocks, tree roots and slippery clay during the descent down into Pararaha Bay. Approac

hing the bay there is a junction offering the worthwhile 10 minute side-trip to the lagoon. At 2.4km or 46 minutes from the road-end we reached the black sand dunes between a sizable lagoon and the beach with crashing waves from the Tasman Sea. With numerous dragon-fly munching away on small insects we decided to have a quick munch on some snack bars too.


The track signposts along this coastal area all marked the soon to be opened Hillary Trail, which will offer the first documented multi-day tramping route in the Waitakare Ranges.

Pararaha Stream

From the beach, travelling past the side-trip junction and towards the Muir Track a crossing of the Pararaha Stream is reached about 10 minutes along the track. Shortly after this stream crossing we could hear Kereru in the bush on the true left-side of the Pararaha Stream.  1.1km/20 minutes along the Muir Track the Les Ward Shelter and Pararaha campsite (permit required) is reached. From the shelter you can drop down to the picturesque Pararaha Stream where initially you can follow a well worn, but not official track present on the true-left side of the stream before disappearing as we negotiated the stream past some wonderful swimming hills and pretty terraced waterfalls. Even better was both combined so I could not resist the chance for a quick swim on the warm day in pool under one of the terraced waterfalls.



About 500m/40 minutes from the Les Ward Shelter we reached large boulders and a larger waterfall. The valley was narrowing to become canyon-isque and after climbing the second set of boulders, which had a log jam over moving water leading the next series we decided it was best not to proceed directly up the stream.

Besides, I would have been in so much trouble with my sister if I got my nephew and I trapped in the middle of a canyon

Looking at the surrounding terrain, and considering the well trodden track further downstream I thought there may have a trail up a gully to our left, on the true right of the Pararaha Stream but on this occasion I failed to see where it left the stream. Now home, and with access to broadband, my blindness becomes completely evident from this page on

At a deep pool 30 minutes from the campsite, a track climbs out on the true right. This track clambers steeply past a larger waterfall to a striking pair of kauri. Above the fall, the stream eases off, and a couple more deep pools are avoided by tracks on the true left. Watch for these: they are very easy to miss.

Muir Ridge Track Odlin Timber Tracks

After wandering through the beautiful Pararaha Stream, following the tracks back to the car were certainly nowhere near as memorable.


The Muir Track is exactly how all uphill tramping tracks should be. Short, sweet and straight up! A 260m climb from the shelter in 27min/1.1km. At the top you reach a track junction with Gibbons Track to the SE and Walker Ridge track to the NE both offering less steep travel.

Walker Ridge Track

The Walker Ridge track offers fast, generally flat travel for 50min/2.7km to pt378, “Orange Peel Corner” junction with the Huia Ridge (NE) and Odlin Timber  (NW) Tracks.

Odlin Timber Track

The Odlin Timber Track (45min/2.5km) is mostly downhill from “Orange Peel Corner” although it climbs up steps from the point at which the top of the Pararaha Stream. It reaches the road shortly before the carpark travelling marginally inside the bush parallel to it for the last 150m. The “Odlins 2” campsite it passes looks like a nice spot, although so near the road-end I am neither sure how much it is used or where “Odlins 1” is located.


That said, the Auckland Regional Council seem unsure of where “Odlins 2” is located, given their location description:

Odlins 2 Campground
Small tent sites, tramping access from Lone Kauri Rd.
   Camping site
   Bookable: Yes
   Directions: Park at car park on Lone Kauri Road. Walk 2.8 km up Odlins Timper Track.
   Grade: Back Country Site
   Camping mode: Small tent sites

Ummm, correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that this is beyond the Odlins Timber track? It is only 2.5km long :). I’m pretty sure that the campsite is 1.7km from the road-end near where the track crosses the Cowan Stream? Perhaps the council could not find a topographical map either :D.




  1. I agree on the uselessness of Auckland bookshops so far as maps are concerned. I also agree it's unfortunate the Waitakeres (which fitted neatly on one map on the old 1:50,000 series) are now split clumsily across four maps. The plus is that now you can download any 1:50,000 map for free from LINZ's website, as a huge TIFF file (up to 80MB size), so if your computer and software's up to it, you can make up one map of your area of interest ('Gimp' is a free program which will cut, paste and join maps quite handily).
    Then all you need is a colour printer.

  2. LINZ actually lets you create your own map online these days as overlapping fragments of the standard maps. Visit, zoom to the area you want, crop it if necessary, then hit the Download button. The website will then create a JPG or TIFF image of your map at the original scale, and let you download it.

    The maps it produces don't seem to have the usual meta-data on the edges, like the map key, and grid references only fall where they do off the original plotted maps, so if you need that sort of thing then it'd be important to check it properly before using it.

  3. I expect outdoor stores to at least support their local community by stocking maps of that area. I have no expectations much from book stores unless I am looking for a street directory.

    Out of retirement and testing waterproof inkjet paper this weekend, all because my 200-odd maps have different grid references to the maps the other people I am tramping with will have.

    More durable paper, correct scale and shaded relief have historically been the benefit of bought maps. Will see how the weekends testing goes.

  4. On the topic of durability, the 1984 experiment, with a few thousand of the Tararua topo maps, used Tyvek paper. After one double-sided run and a couple of single sided runs, it wasn't done again because Lands & Survey were meeting too many production complications or expenses. (I don't remember the details and left my little history book at home.)

    It's really plastic, but supposedly it can be written and printed onto as if it's paper, and might be worth checking out for anyone who wants to make their own durable map.

  5. After a couple of years of hindsight and looking very closely at the maps etc, if I had gone for 8 metre swim in a deep pool above a logjam I would have been able complete this route via Pararaha Stream. Will save it for another time.

    P.S. Mike - Tyvek makes a great lightweight groundsheet too.

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