Aotea Track, Great Barrier IslandBeginner - Intermediate
Submitted by Gareth Morris & Sam McEwan
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Front country - easily accessible
Undulating, some big hills
Native bushOpen ridges/tops
Beginner - Intermediate
Kauri Dieback - Please scrub and spray your shoes at the cleaning stations when joining and/or leaving the track.
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Start at the beginning of Kaitoke Hot Springs Track on Whangaparapara Road. Scrub and spray your shoes at the wash station before heading along a couple of kilometres of easy trail and boardwalk through the wetlands to the hot springs. Pause briefly to think about how nice the hot springs will feel on your feet before charging up some stairs and along some trails to hit Tramline Track.
This is well signposted, with the junction just over a small bridge. Hang a right and enjoy the lovely, buttery smooth trails of Tramline Track for about 1.5k before turning left for the many stairs of Peach Tree Track. Keep going up the long climb and enjoy the views as you head up above the bush. After about 5k you'll hit a junction with South Fork Track (also well signposted). Take the right, uphill trail and you'll hit Mount Heale Hut, which has beautiful views down to the West Coast of the island.
Enjoy the views before heading up to Mount Hobson just over a kilometre further up; there are a LOT of stairs. On a fine day it's worth heading up to the summit itself for the views, before dropping back down. There is a complex junction here, but it is well signposted. You want to head Northwest on Kaiaraara Track and back long some very long sets of stairs. On the way down you'll see lots of evidence of slips, plenty of suspension bridges as well as some very informative signs about Kauri logging.
After about 5.5k you'll come to a final swing bridge across the river, which is well signposted. Cross over the river and find Kaiaraara Hut about 100m to the Southwest. The next section is on the gravel Forest Road and easy to follow, if not as adventurous. It is worth taking the brief signosted diversion on the left to see two magnificent Kauri about 5k in, and the longer signposted diversion on the right a further 2k on to enjoy the views from Maungapiko. 3.5k further along the forest road, you'll see the signpost to rejoin the Tramline Track which will take you a further 2k to rejoin the junction with the Kaitoke Hot Springs Track. Head back down towards the hot springs for a well-earned dip, before the easy 2k trot back to the start of your route.
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Features of interest
Plenty to see and experience! The magnificent Hirakimata (Mount Hobson) is the highest point on the island and provides an amazing outlook to the Coromandel and Hauturu (Little Barrier). Keep an ear / eye out for Kaka. Kauri Dams line the gorge you descend into. There are also old tramways near Kaitoke Hot Springs, stunning waterfalls, wetlands and some beautiful kauri.
Kaitoke Hot Springs is at the start (and finish) so it's nice to dangle your feet in the naturally hot water to refresh!
Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 10%
Moderate Single Track: 25%
Easy Single Track: 45%
Gravel Road: 20%
Start at the beginning of Kaitoke Hot Springs Track on Whangaparapara Road.
Either drive and park in the small parking area at the start of the trail, get a taxi or walk/run (5k from Claris, 15k from Tryphena.)
The hot springs are frequented by visitors so you may need to park up the road a little. The Barrier is generally very safe but still hide any valuables. Hitching is also easy on the island too.
The route is very well signposted so navigation is easy PROVIDED you read every sign. There's a PDF map of the route on the DOC site, which can also be picked up in leaflet form from many places on the island.
Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.
While there is water available at the huts, you are advised to boil it before use. There are numerous streams in the area; however it is not known whether it is advisable to drink from them.
Probably a bit muddy after rain.
Lots of wooden steps which could become very slippery in wet weather.
Post run indulgence
Currach Irish Pub
Excellent beer and pizzas straight from a wood-fired oven. Can get very busy though!
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