Opotiki & Motu
Walking/ Hiking/ Trail Running
From the dead flat to seriously mountainous, the Opotiki and Motu gem boasts a wide range of walking, trekking and running options.
Hukutaia Domain is a wonderful five-hectare patch of forest holding a magnificent collection of New Zealand native trees and shrubs, including Taketakerau, a 2000-year-old puriri used in ancient times by the Upokorehe iwi as a burial tree. The reserve has several easy loop walks accessible for all levels of fitness. The domain is at the top of Woodlands Rd which joins SH2 at the Waioeka Bridge in Opotiki.
Te Waiti Valley Track
Te Waiti Valley Track starts at the end of Te Waiti Stream Rd and has the Te Waiti Hut at about 6km. The track is benched with views of Te Waiti Stream and lowland forest. The start is by Bushhaven on Te Waiti Valley Rd which is around 18km from Opotiki following Otara Rd then Te Waiti Rd. Te Waiti Rd is very narrow and winding (not suitable for motorhomes) and has several streams to ford. The gradient is mostly easy but there are some sections that are very narrow with steep drop-offs and a stream crossing that may be impassable after rain.
Te Waiti Nature Trail
Te Waiti Nature Trail is an easy loop that passes through lovely nikau palm and tawa forest. It’s a great family walk, half an hour’s drive from Opotiki, and close to the DoC campsite at the Boulders. The track leaves the Te Waiti Valley Rd about 1.5 km from the Otara Rd turn off. It is suitable for families, being easy to follow and offering good views down the valley.
The Pakihi Track follows an old stock route for 20km through beautiful native bush that is well benched with an easy gradient and is shared with mountain bikers riding in the downhill direction. All waterways are bridged. The track can be accessed from either 37km up Old Motu Rd from the coast or 24km from Opotiki at the Pakihi Rd end. The track is an easy gradient almost entirely uphill from Pakihi Rd end with the climb being more obvious above the Pakihi Hut at about the half way point. A swing bridge across the stream is just one of many places offering picturesque views of the stream and valley. Pakihi Hut sleeps six, has water and toilets. Toilets and shelter are also provided at the Pakihi and Motu road ends.
Tauranga Bridge Track
Tauranga Bridge Track is a 6km loop starting at the carpark in the Waioeka Gorge 26km south of Opotiki on SH2. Once across the harp suspension bridge the loop track begins and can be followed in either direction.
Travelling in a clockwise direction, the track takes visitors through regenerating farmland on the southern side of the track. The track then crosses over the stream to the northern bank and doubles back along the bush edge to the Waioeka River. There is a second stream-crossing at the mouth of the Tauranga Stream to get back to the Tauranga Bridge. Do not attempt to cross the river when it is flooded. The Tauranga Bridge Track is also open to mountain bikers.
The 10km of Dunes Trail is easy walking and running for all fitness levels and is shared with cyclists for whom it is part of the Motu Trails National Cycleway. Hugging the sand dunes, the trail provides excellent vantage points from which to enjoy unspoiled views of the Pacific Ocean and rugged hinterland of the East Cape. Beach access points offer a change of terrain to completely flat as an option when the tide is out. The Dunes Trail starts at the Pakowhai ki Otuaopuku Bridge in Opotiki’s Memorial Park Reserve at the end of St John St. Toilets are available at the start point and at Hukuwai Beach.
Manganuku Camping Area, 47km south of Opotiki on SH2, is the staging point for two walks on true right of the Manganuku Stream. Starting at the 1929 Manganuku Howe Truss Bridge, the Little Manganuku Track climbs a gully to a saddle that gives good views out over the surrounding forest before continuing down to the Little Manganuku Stream. Return time for walkers is estimated at 2.5hours. A second track, the Manganuku Track, is an easy benched track that runs along and above the true right bank of the Manganuku Stream finishing at a good swimming hole. Continue walking upstream in the river for another two hours approximately and you will arrive at the Manganuku hut. This section requires good back country experience.
Nikau And Kotepato Tracks
Nikau and Kotepato tracks are both on the intrepid end of the adventure scale and require back country experience. They are accessed by turning into Wairata Rd, 42km from Opotiki via the Waioeka Gorge on SH2. Travel along Wairata Rd for 2km before turning right and crossing a bridge on to Redpath Rd at the end of which are stockyards with a designated parking area. You will walk 1-2 hours across private farmland on a farm track before reaching the bush where signage will direct you to either tracks. Redpath Road end to the six-berth Kotepato Hut takes 2-3hrs one way following the farm track to bush edge where you cross the Waioeka river. From here the track follows the Te Pato stream taking about 30mins to reach the Kotepato Hut. Check river levels as the Waioeka river can become impassable in high flows. The track from Redpath Rd end to Nikau Hut takes 3-4hrs one way. Follow the farm track to the bush edge then a well-benched track follows the Waioeka river on the true left finishing at the six-bunk Nikau Hut on a grassy river flat.
Otipi Road Track
Otipi Rd is a 4WD track which climbs steeply through bush for 4km to 960m altitude. It then follows the ridgeline, before descending steeply to the Motu Road at about 250m. It’s a 20km trip and you return the same way. Visitors generally drive 60km from Opotiki to Whitikau (via Old Motu Coach Rd to Toatoa, then Takaputahi Rd) where there is a DOC campsite. This is a true wilderness bush experience with stunning views and rainforest scenery. Be prepared with warm and wet weather clothing for adverse weather changes at any time – the altitude at the summit is the same as the high point on the Desert Rd. Cellphone coverage is available at the summit.