Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Daywalk: Waitakeres - Te Toiokawharu & Tom Thumb via Fletchers & Twin Peaks

While in Auckland for Christmas, I took my nephew Jamie for a short day walk in the Waitakeres Ranges. This trip we started Kamatura (near Huia) and took the Kamatura Loop, Fletchers, Donald McLean, Huia Ridge, Twin Peaks, and Tom Thumb tracks to loop back to the car. This highlights of this route were visiting the Tom Thumb Kauri Tree, and making it to the highest point in the Waitakere Ranges at Te Toiokawharu. While near the Manakau Harbour or the Tasman Sea at all times, this route was well forested and sights of these were far between.

 

We did not get off to the best start with lanes disappearing causing navigation issues through Auckland's under construction motorway's and tunnels.  we eventually made it to the start, well not quite the start actually. We started at the campsite at Kamatura Farm Park, not at Kamatura Park as was intended! The clown I am, I am. With the built environment navigation failures out of the way it was to time to jump on foot and get on with the tramp.

 

 

Like our previous trip in the Waitakeres, segments of the trip are part of the Hillary Trail, which is a trail I must attempt contiguously at some point in the future. With our fractionally revised starting location my first observation was that the better campsite sites were not so much right at Barn Paddock, but at either side of the walking track between Barn Paddock and Kamatura Park.

 

 

 

From Kamatura Park we briefly headed along the well maintained and manicured Kamatura Loop track/highway on which progress was rapid. It would have been easy to waltz past the junction up Fletcher Track to our left after 420 metres. Fletcher Track is more of a tramping grade track, and the word grade will come to mind with a few steepish sections to help us work off our Christmas eating. After about an hour of ascending 360m and moving forward 2.58km we reached the junction of Fletcher and Donald McLean tracks from where the track levelled out for an easy half kilometre to Kamatura Forks. At various times we found ourselves in front of, alongside and behind a group of three travelling this section on their mountain bikes. It was fun keeping up with them on foot ;). And for some reason satisfying - even as an enthusiastic cyclist myself.

 

 

From the forks we continued with reasonably flat travel along the Huia Ridge track (2.73km; a little under an hour). It was slowly getting muddier and muddier and with track becoming more overgrown. This was even more the case once we turned onto the the Twin Peaks track that never seems to dry out.

 

 

A short way (0.34km) into the Twin Peaks track we reached Te Toiokawharu, the highest point in the Waitakeres. Not only did Te Taikawharu not offer a view but there were some interesting discrepancies between the signposted 463m.asl which differed from both my hardcopy map and GPS which had the elevation a fraction higher at 474m.asl.

 

 

The rest of the Twin Peaks track continued to be muddy, sloppy and reasonably undulated with 117m of climbing matched against 294m of descent. Jamie wasn't so sure that we twice as much descending as climbing on this section. Once at the bottom, the reward is to be greeted by the majestic "Tom Thumb" Kauri tree. Not too many this size to see around New Zealand after much felling of the sought after timber in the years gone by, including in the area we have been walking today.

From the Kauri tree, it was another 3km/1 hour of easy track back to our car at Kamatura Farm with the highlight being the crossing of the Kamatura Stream.

 

Daywalk: Waitakeres - Te Toiokawharu & Tom Thumb via Fletchers & Twin Peaks


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Approximate Track times:
Barn Paddock to Kamatura Park 10 min 650m
Kamatura Park to Fletchers Track 6 min 420m
Fletchers Track (ascends 360m) 1 hour 2.58km
Donald McLean / Kamatura Forks 7 min 500m
Huia Ridge
1 hour 2.73km
Twin Peaks to Te Toiokawharu 8 min 340m
Te Toiokawharu to Tom Thumb Kauri Tree 1hr 2.8km
Tom Thumb Kauri Tree to Kamatura Farm 1hr 3km
Times shown in this table and inline blog text above are indicative only. Travel times in the backcountry are variable depending on fitness, terrain, the size of your party, weather conditions and stopping times for snacks, photography, your interest in botany and such like.
You can find more information about the Waitakere Ranges on the ARC Website