High Road Low RoadIntermediate
Submitted by Kate Annan "Titch"
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Front country - easily accessible
Undulating, some big hills
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From the carpark go north on the Mt Donald McLean track, use the brushes and Sterigene and follow the Puriri Ridge track west with occasional views to the coast. Before 2km you will reach the junction with the Kura Track; keep left and descend for the next 100m to the road. Cross with care, making use of another shoe cleaning station.
The beginning of the Omanawanui track is smooth gravel with some speedy undulations. As you head west the track gets steeper, but the views open out to keep you smiling. You want to be running this on a clear day, but it is also wonderful in the driving rain. After 3km, pause at the bench to appreciate the scenery before you descend steeply to Whatipu. At the bottom of the hill leave the Hillary Trail, turn right along a grassy track that crosses the road and a paddock to meet the Kura Track (scrub and spray your shoes again); this is your half way point.
The Kura track is magical any time of day or night and in any weather. Most of the track winds along by the stream with several crossings (if you want you can stay in the stream, just keep your eyes pealed for the second exit on the right). During the day the dappled light and nikau palms make it a special place. At night watch the water for the glowing orange eyes of the kura. The last 800m of the Kura Track is a steep climb back onto the Puriri Ridge, which undulates (mostly uphill) back to the car. It would be rude not to visit the viewpoint on the summit of Mt Donald McLean to finish this route.
Don't skip the Kauri Dieback shoe cleaning stations - everyone is responsible for minimising the spread of this killer disease.
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Features of interest
Spectacular views over the Manukau Harbour on the Omanawanui. Beautiful nikau palms on the Kura.
Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 20%
Moderate Single Track: 60%
Easy Single Track: 20%
Start from the Donald McLean carpark, about an hour from central Auckland.
Continue over the bridge from Huia, past the Karamatura car park; there's a ford and a sharp right bend onto Whatipu Road, turn onto Donald McLean Road, then go to the end of the road.
Ample parking; on a clear day it gets quite a bit of traffic from people soaking in the view from Mt Donald McLean. Nearest toilets are back at the visitor centre at Karamatura.
Mostly easy with clear paths and signs. One point on the Kura Track where the trail turns sharply uphill to the right (when travelling from Whatipu towards Huia) and a trap line continues straight. I have bumbled along this with my head down in the dark and I know a few others who have done the same. Less likely to happen in the daylight, but if you don't see any orange marker arrows on the trees ever few metres, you're almost certainly off the trail on the Kura.
Long-sleeved thermal top, Windproof jacket, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Map.
Can make a short diversion to Whatipu campground to pick up some water there (as always, DoC advise boiling the water, drink from the tap at your own risk).
Few crossings of the stream on the Kura, unlikely to get high enough to pose a safety issue, but can get very muddy down there.
The Omanawanui track is quite exposed to the wind in places so it may be worth carrying a windproof on a breezy day.
Post run indulgence
The Huia Foodstore
Does great coffee, lunches and sweet treats. They don't seem to mind smelly, muddy runners piling in and fingering through the second hand books while they sip a hot cuppa.
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