Waikanae: Hemi Matenga – Huia Street to Tui Crescent. The Te Au Loop.
This is an extension of the very popular ‘Up and Back’ Parata walk from Tui Crescent. It’s a lot harder and a lot longer: 5.5km and about 3.5hours if you walk the road section back to Huia St – (we usually leave a car at the Tui Cres. entrance, so we can save ½ hour of road walking at the end of trip).
A DOC managed walkway that has a rather austere entrance – it’s easy to drive right past so keep a look out for the green sign and a stile into what looks like a paddock. There is parking space for three or four cars on the west side of the road. Over the stile it is straight up the hill on a narrow grassy right-of-way with no planting at all. However you will probably be too busy climbing to worry about that until you reach the top stile – pause – you will need to – and turn back to look at the views over Waikanae and out to Kapiti. It is the last view you will see for 1 ½ hours but this walk is really about the bush. So often we say “aren’t we lucky to have this on our door step” and literally it’s a few steps from Waikanae shopping centre where the bush is as good as you can find virtually anywhere in the north island. Some large rimu, kohekohe, kamahi, crazily entwined supplejack vines, ferns of all descriptions, pongas nikau and a diverse range of coastal native trees.
The track continues straight up the hill, and while it is a hard slog and a rough track it’s a lot safer to be going up than coming down this stretch. Don’t even think of doing it in the rain it truly is dangerous. The DOC orange triangles need to be followed religiously (and the pink ones ignored – I think they are for pest control or bird monitoring, certainly not track direction). After an hour of climbing you will suddenly come to a well marked junction – and a well earned rest. While the track continues to the south you can see an open area perfect for a morning tea break just to the north, this is our preferred resting place.
Having enjoyed the break and returning to the track you now continue along the ridge line with only minor climbs. The track is still rough though and not well defined so it pays to keep the orange markers in sight at all times – there have been a number of ‘rescues’ of trampers who have strayed off the ridge and found themselves quite disoriented. Take your time, enjoy the epiphytes – covered in tiny orchids in summer, and the birds also; friends saw two kaka recently. Half an hour or more on there is a short side track to an open grassy area with a memorial seat – your second view spot – another excuse for a rest.
Continuing south the track suddenly narrows and approaches a wire fence where it sidles around a paddock with interesting views through the gap towards Otaihanga.
Five more minutes and you are at the beginning of the downhill section to Tui Crescent. The track is wider and easy to follow but is still steep and slippery – wet or dry.
When you hear the little stream and then see it through the nursery of nikaus you know you are nearly at the end of one of our very precious reserves.
Do hope you enjoy it.