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Tararua Footprints Ngatiawa, Waikanae, and Mangaone Valleys

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13 Ngatiawa and Waikanae Rivers and the Mangaone Valley

This area straddles two map sheets, NZTopo50-BP32 and NZTopo50-BP33.

Access: The road-ends for the Waikanae and Ngatiawa Rivers can both be reached from Upper Hutt via the Akatarawa Road, or more directly from Waikanae. These roads have some narrow reaches that require care. Trampers planning to use the Akatarawa Road from the Hutt Valley for access to this area are advised to consult the Kapiti Coast District Council road status page. This is also accessible as a quick link at the bottom of their homepage.

Waikanae River road-end: Along Akatarawa Road 4.7 km from Waikanae, Ngatiawa Rd branches L and 700 metres along this, Mangaone South Rd branches L for 5.3 km to the carpark at its end. From this carpark the Mangaone Walkway heads N, crossing the east branch of the Waikanae River.

Ngatiawa River road-end: This is 4 km beyond the Mangaone South Rd turn-off. Trail markers will be seen through the left-most gate marking the route that leads to Kapakapanui. This crosses private land which should be treated with respect. Park your car well clear of the gates.

Overview: These two minor valley systems, headwaters of the Waikanae River, contain the popular Mangaone Walkway, and tracks to Kapakapanui, Renata and Waiotauru. The infrequently visited Waikanae River branches contain considerable areas of lowland forest, much of it still in original condition. [revised November 2017]

13.1 Mangaone Walkway QFG

This Walkway has a carpark at each end. Walking south to north is the better direction, with the first half of the journey through pleasant regenerating bush, with some fine rimu rickers beside the track and glimpses of mature forest on the skyline. There are many private grassy or flat areas for picnics and recreation. On some of the sharper curves of the track, radial grooves on the track edge indicate the position of the sleepers of the old bush tramline. In what is now the Kaitawa Scenic Reserve, beside the southern part of the Walkway, there are a number of old logging roads. These disused roads are neither maintained nor marked, but visitors are free to explore them at will. The second half of the track at the N end is over formed road. About 90 minutes between carparks.

Northwards: From the Mangaone Walkway southern carpark, the track crosses a swing-bridge and rejoins the old road. Less than 2 minutes further on, the foot trail drops into bush on the L. The track is well defined and in a few minutes crosses a bridge over the Waikanae River north branch. From here the old tramline stays on the TR of the stream until open grassland is reached. The route then soon crosses the stream to the farm road on the TL, which it follows to the northern end 40 minutes or so away.

Southwards: Access is from Te Horo, 8km N of Waikanae, where Hautere Cross Rd leads R across the railway towards Otaki Forks. Mangaone North Rd branches off after 3.2 km, and leads in 4.1 km to the carpark at the N end of the Mangaone Walkway. The narrow gravel road needs care, and this road-end may be less secure for cars than the southern one.

Mangaone Walkway from the N is a formed road till almost halfway. For the first 20 minutes it climbs steadily to a saddle, then drops gently through pine forest and regenerating bush for another 20 minutes. Where the road ends at a private gate, the foot track begins on the L. The route now stays on the TR almost to the Waikanae end. Five minutes or so over grass brings a small gate and the start of the Waikawa Scenic Reserve, through which the Walkway leads. Apart from a short climb around a slip, the track is well benched. Forty minutes from the small gate to the road-end carpark. [revised November 2017]

13.2 Pukeatua from Mangaone South Road QFG

This is a section of the Te Araroa Trail. From the carpark, follow the Mangaone Walkway to a swing-bridge and rejoin the old road. Less than 2 minutes further on, turn R through a gate; the old logging road leads in 15 minutes to a forks. Between the two branches of the stream, a rough logging road climbs steeply for 10 minutes before easing for another 10 minutes. From this point, a track alternately climbs and flattens through bush to reach the cleared top of Pukeatua, 2 to 2 hours from the carpark.

Down: the track is well marked, but care is needed where dry leaf litter obscures the pad. On reaching the forks, go 50m up the TR branch to find the old logging road. [October 2017]

13.3 Kapakapanui from Mangaone South Road QOT

Owing to changes in land ownership, the direct route through the pine plantation and over .374 is no longer allowed. However, there is fair access from the track to Pukeatua (see 13.2). Some 250m on from the point where, just above the 700m contour, the track flattens and turns S, watch for the main ridge joining from the R The route along this ridge to .890, above Kapakapanui Hut, is not clearly marked and is prone to windfall. From .890, the trail soon emerges from the forest and continues up past the repeater station on .1094 to the Kapakapanui summit beacon less than an hour away. [revised October 2017]

13.4 Kapakapanui from Ngatiawa Road end QOT

From the left-hand gate at the Ngatiawa Road end, trail markers lead down and across paddocks to the Ngatiawa River. The Ngatiawa Forks are 12 minutes, and 4 crossings, upstream. The last crossing leads to the toe of the spur between the forks, and the Langer memorial tablet. Two routes go to Kapakapanui from here. One climbs the SE spur between the forks directly to Kapakapanui. The other climbs the spur NE of the forks, then swings past Kapakapanui Hut and on to the summit. Both tracks are well padded and reasonably well marked.

Up by the SE spur. From the forks, 2 hours of quick easy height gains the summit of Kapakapanui. The last part is through tall grass covering the burn. The summit is marked by a large trig beacon. Twenty-five metres before the top, the trail from the Ngatiawa-Waiotauru Saddle joins.

Panoramic views extend from the islands off the coast, past the Southern Crossing in the E, to the conspicuous pyramid of Arete in the distant NE. From this angle, its aretes proclaim the name origin.

From the summit, the anti-clockwise circuit can be completed by following the trail N. It soon passes the transmitter station on .1094 to veer NW and drop to the bush. Kapakapanui Hut is reached in less than an hour from the summit. From the hut the track continues NW to .755 in 15 minutes. The trail then heads W, soon bearing SW, and leaves the gentle uplands 15 minutes from .755, to drop to the Ngatiawa Forks, 90 minutes from the hut.

Up by the NE spur. From the forks, the route continues up the TR branch of the stream for 6 minutes before zig-zagging up on the L. It takes up to 2 hours to reach the hut. Five minutes above the hut, on a small knob, the indistinct Henderson route joins from the Pukeatua track. The summit is less than an hour from the hut. [revised November 2015]

13.5 Odlins Road/Waiotauru Road: Maymorn Junction from Akatarawa Saddle QOT

This road is not signposted, and is quite variable in its state of repair, with a large slip below the road 9km in; it is barely suitable even for 4WD vehicles. Tramping time to Maymorn Junction is 2 to 3 hours.

From the highway, the 4WD track climbs and sidles east and north around to .581, passing half-a-dozen side tracks on the way. Noteably there are white hydrangeas planted at the roadside every so often.

At .581 a 4WD track continues north toward Ngatiawa, while the 4WD track to Maymorn Junction descends east to climb and and wind its way east and south above Ngatiawa River toward Kakanui. From there it winds and sidles to the saddle called Maymorn Junction (just below .822). At the saddle the 4WD track to Waiotauru Hut is straight ahead (see 14.25), the track to Renata Hut is up on the bank to the right, and the track to Kapakapanui branches off a bit further on, at the N end of the saddle.

13.6 Kapakapanui from Maymorn Junction QOT

The first hour from the Maymorn Junction is along a gentle ridge which drops finally to a major saddle. From here the trail climbs steeply towards Kapakapanui another 75 minutes away.

The last part of the climb is over alpine wetland meadow resulting from the burn in 1903. The recovery time to full forest may be another 1000 years.

13.7 Renata Hut from Maymorn Junction QOT

From the Maymorn Junction saddle, the track climbs a little over .822, the actual Maymorn Junction, then drops steadily to join the trail from the Frances Stream. Renata Hut, currently (2017) in poor repair, should be reached in 30-45 minutes from the 4WD road.

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"It's the fresh air that does it,' said the Rose: "wonderfully fine air it is, out here"

Lewis Carroll


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Page last modified on 2017 Nov 13 20:23

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