Maunganui to Cleartop
I thought everyone knew about the North West Akatarawa hills in behind Paraparaumu – you go up Waterfall Road, and then wind up and over into the Maungakotukutuku Valley, where you find that quad-bike centre. I’m sure most people do know that. But it was apparent, that of the 18 in our group, not too many knew what you did next. So let’s say that it was a glorious spring day, and that even if we were too early for lunch on Mt Maunganui, and too late on Cleartop, and had to stop under a thick shady canopy of trees in between, there was otherwise general satisfaction with the trip. But where were we, and how did we get there? A few pointers might be helpful.
Just over a kilometre further down the road from the quad bikes, where it first comes out again into farmland (plenty of parking) you can see behind you across the river a major side valley. A very pleasant and not too steep track climbs up on its far side to the top of Mt Maunganui, two hours away. You just cross the Maungakotukutuku Stream, spend a few minutes on the forested terrace trying not to be distracted by the various footpads to be found there, cross the side-stream and pick up the track to the foot of the hill.
The top of Maunganui is disappointing. No clear space and views only over the top of scrub. But there are two or three lovely sunny spots just before the top. Beyond, the muddy track continues northeast for 25 minutes (here a pad runs E around the head of the Akatarawa) before dropping, and swinging north northeast, towards .620 (not readily identifiable). Just beyond is a trap for young players. The pad seems to run on north when the track you want drops steeply W. When it swings north again and eases you will see an old fencepost which marks the junction with the Gamepark Track, just over an hour from Mt Maunganui. The next landmark, nearly an hour further on, is the under-canopy clearing, surrounded by be-ribboned trees, where the Pylon Track comes up. Northwards from here, the route is less used, more obstructed, and more dependent on fewer plastic ties, and you need to watch for the point where these lead you steeply down right for perhaps 30m to an old road below. Few problems now. After the 4WD has swung right, choose the uphill branch, and watch again for another overgrown branch climbing steeply left to the open tops of Cleartop – hence, presumably, its name, known possibly only to the TTC. You can also call it .496. Half an hour from the Pylon Track.
From here, two steep forestry access roads drop, one north and one west, to meet again at the bridge over the river below. We chose the northerly one – overgrown in places at first so make sure you stay on it. (The one to the west is probably less overgrown). Over the bridge, a 40 minute road walk brings you back to your car. It took us just under seven hours.
- Party members
- Joan Basher, Helen Beaglehole, Karen Commons, John Dement, Trish Gardner-Smith, Helen Gray, Susan Guscott, Justin Kerr, Jenny Mason, David Ogilvie (leader), Linda Pugh, Peter Smith, Bob Stephens, John Thomson (scribe), Helena Weller-Chew, Christine and Peter Whiteford, Glynn Woodbury