McLaren Falls & Lower Kaimai
Walking/ Hiking/ Trail Running
McLaren Falls Park
McLaren Falls Park is a 190ha reserve area featuring a mix of native and exotic trees, open farmland, a lake and a waterfall. It has a number of formed walking and running tracks, mostly with gentle to rolling gradients. Toilets, one of which is wheelchair-friendly, and an information centre are beside the café near the park entrance off McLaren Falls Rd from SH29. The park is open daily from 7.30am and closes at 9.30pm in summer or 7.30pm in winter. Livestock are present on the property so dogs are not permitted.
Cherry Bay track
Cherry Bay is an easy walk from the main access road. Most commonly photographed in Spring and Autumn and is a popular location for wedding ceremonies. The area provides excellent access to a grove of Cherry trees and a bridge extends across the water providing access to another key picnic area.
The Waterfall Track is a short loop walk of around 20 minutes to a small waterfall and platform. It has a great native bush and stream landscape, and at night there is a nice display of glow-worms. The track extends along both sides of a small stream from the main access road and is wheelchair accessible on the left side to the falls. The right side is more of a bush track with steps, roots and mud.
The 2km Lakeside track starts at the front gate of the park and follows the lake edge to the top of the lake. It is mainly flat, but there are steps and a few steep bits.
The Ponga Track is mainly a link track from Pine Tree Knoll to a lookout seat. This 390 metre track winds around through a stand of pongas and has a few view shafts across the park, it has no steps and is a good walk for adults and children.
Rotary Grove and Pine Tree Knoll Track
Rotary Grove was established by the Tauranga Rotary Club and provides a formal pergola and viewing platform. Access to the area can be by car, with the viewing platform only a short walk from the car. Pine Tree Knoll track starts at the road by the top flat and winds up to a lookout platform and has a great view back towards Rotary Grove and Lake McLaren. This 400m track is a good walk for most people but there is a section with steps. This track also links to the Ponga Track.
Rimu Totara Track The Rimu Totara track starts from the road at the intersection of lower Mangapapa sub station road and the road up to the back gate. The track is 1km in length and follows a small stream through the bush then climbs up a step stairway to a loop track at the top. You can return by one of two ways. One is down a side track to Lake Mangapapa. Half way down there are two really large rimu trees and a picnic table, you then follow the road back to the beginning. The second way is just follow the road back to the beginning.
Omanawa Falls Power Station Reserve
Omanawa Falls Power Station Reserve takes its fame from having the first underground power station in the southern hemisphere. While the station itself is off limits to the public, the reserve and walk to the falls can be accessed at the top end of Omanawa Rd off SH29. There is a car park but no other facilities at the Omanawa Rd end. Follow the walking track for a 30 minutes return trip to the waterfalls upper lookout. The base of the 35 metre waterfall is inaccessible and visitors are advised against trying to reach the waterfalls pool.
Lower Kaimai Mamaku
The Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park features numerous tracks and trails many from the pioneering days of mining and logging, with a few being traditional Maori trails from earlier times. There are two tracks that feature in the Lower Kaimai area. Be careful to clean footwear before and after visiting the park to prevent spread of Kauri Dieback Disease.
Ngamuwahine Track is effectively a link track that travels for 3.5km before joining the Leyland O’Brien Tramline – one of several former bush railways that operated in the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park. The starting point is at the end of Ngamuwahine Rd which comes off SH29 just past Kaimai School. Carparking is in the forest past the lodge. For the first part of the track it climbs up through the bush and crosses a river behind the lodge at the end of Ngamuwahine Road, before levelling out on a ridge. The track finishes at an intersection with the Leyland O'Brien Tramline Track. Return the same way or continue on to the tramline to eventually reach Whakamarama Rd.
Henderson Tramline Track
Another of the former pioneering bush railways, the Henderson Tramline Track is a 9km loop which includes part of Old Kaimai Rd and can be travelled in either direction. From the carpark at the Tuakopae Stream Bridge on Old Kaimai Road, the track crosses a clearing before reaching a junction. A short side track leads down to the base of a waterfall and large swimming hole. The main track continues to join up with the western branch of the Henderson Tramline. When the tramline ends the track follows haul lines to the summit. Turn north on to the North South historic track until meeting up with the junction at the northern tramline. Follow the tramline east and then a cut track through the bush to the park boundary before following along the edge of cleared land beside a deer fence. The track crosses two large tributaries of the Rataroa Stream before reaching the Old Kaimai Road. These are not bridged, but are normally shallow enough to cross with care. Follow the road back to the start of the track. The track starts by the Tuakopae Stream bridge on Old Kaimai Road, off SH 29 near Kaimai Summit. Be careful to clean footwear before and after your visit to prevent spread of Kauri Dieback Disease, check the weather forecast and let someone know your plans before setting off.