Trail Stories - Geoff Chapple
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Section: The North
The route begins (or ends, but let's start at the top) at Cape Reinga, goes down 90-mile Beach, crosses from Ahipara to Kerikeri through four DOC forests, to Whangarei, then mainly follows the coast to Auckland.
Section: The Northern Cities
Near Auckland we have proposed a loop track - North Shore City to Waitakere City. That gives choice for a through hiker approaching the metropolis of traversing Auckland via the wild west coast, or the gentle east. South of Auckland, the trail unwinds through the Hunua Range, then cuts along the Mangatawhiri River to Meremere. It follows the Waikato River to Huntly, piggybacks on the existing Hakarimata Walkway to Ngaruawahia, then cleaves again to the riverbank to reach Hamilton.
Section: The Centre of the North Island
From Hamilton it heads west, to Pirongia and on through scattered DOC reserves and Maori trust land as far as Waitomo Caves. It emerges at Te Kuiti. From there it follows the Mangaokewa River - an untracked route but along river banks that are 95% reserve or esplanade strip - as far as DOC's Pureora Forest. Te Araroa then strikes south along DOC's Hauhungaroa ridgetop track, overlooking Lake Taupo, to Tongariro National Park. The trail joins the existing Round-the-Mountain Track to Whakapapa Village then heads down to National Park township. From there it runs south-west via a paper road and bush tracks that lead through to Pipiriki on the Whanganui River. The choice then exists to canoe the river to Wanganui city, or to walk the isolated river road.
Section: The South of the North island
From Wanganui the trail will beach-walk to Santoft, strike inland to Bulls then Feilding and on, via a proposed 15-km walkway, to Palmerston North. From that city, the trail heads into the lower Tararua Range through to DOC's Mangaone trail just out of Waikanae. It follows the coast to Queen Elizabeth Park, then crosses Highway 1 to join a planned walkway across a Landcorp farm and into the Akatarawa Forest. It emerges at Battle Hill Farm Park, and goes on via Pauatahanui, to Porirua City. The existing Colonial Knob walkway, south-west of the city, connects to Spicer Forest, and Te Araroa's North Island trail finishes along Wellington City's proposed Skyline hike to the capital city.
Note: Much of the route follows trails that already exist, or forestry roads, and could be tramped now. But we have included also walks that are in the planning stages, though not yet in place, or others that are not planned but are, given the land status, very possible. And our trail supposes sometimes that access will be gained - for instance along some publicly-owned stop banks of the Waikato River - where access does not presently exist, and will need political lobbying to establish access. For such reasons the indicative trail we have mapped is not right now a tramping route, and should not be used as a tramping route - yet.