Last Updated: 14th Mar 2024

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done

Ernie's loop

Hunua, Auckland

Submitted by Steve Neary

Last Updated: 14th Mar 2024

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 19 ?

Gnarl Factor: 30 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Urban fringe


Undulating, some big hills

Native bush

Run Makeup


Gravel Road

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +10.3%

Average Downhill Gradient: -10.3%


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Estimated Times to Run







You can run the 15 k loop in either direction. Going clockwise gives you a nice easy 3.3 k relatively flat warm up on nice open gravel road through native bush and around the side of the dam. The anti clock wise direction takes you over the dam face and steadily uphill on Lilburne road for 4 k.
Whichever way you choose to do it, the single track is pure trail running goodness, although quite technical and root in places. You'll have steep uphills and downhills through native bush, but also pop out on some open grassy viewing points, overlooking the head waters of the dam. The track also passes through the remains of an old camp site (Ernie's campsite, that the track is named after) and Piggots hut. DOC orange triangles and track signs mark the way and are clearly visible from either direction, just so long as you are paying attention!

A nice section of gravel road that Water Care use as access roads. Not open to the public. These are at both ends of the loop. Nice to warm up on before you get into the native single track. Lots of Tui, Wood pigeon, Fan tail, Tom tits and if you listen really hard you may hear a Kokako.

Only way to get there is by private vehicle. Or if you are keen ride your MTB. The car park is well used by mountain bikers too and tourists. Cars parked there are generally safe but don't leave your valuables in your car just in case.

14 km

21 minutes




If running in anti-clockwise direction from the dam, you need to keep an eye out for the Ernie's Track on your right - aprox 3.3 km from the car park. Follow the DOC orange trail markers.


Waterproof leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Short-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map

Take your own water. 1.5L minimum recommended

The lower section of Ernie's does get muddy in the winter. But lots of fun to run over.

There is a period of 3 weeks during the year that contract hunters go and control the pests in the area. Check the Regional Park website for the dates that the tracks are closed to the public.

Bombay Service centre
Great food and hot coffee. And it's not McDonald's.

Trail Legend

Travers Amoore

Travers Amoore

has completed Ernie's loop 4 times in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

I ran Ernie’s loop this morning and added Rata Ridge Track (RRT) on. Let’s just say I won’t be posting my time 😆 Unfortunately, I got a bit lost going up the RRT big hill. For some reason, I followed the pink triangle’s. Anyhow, I eventually found may way back to RRT after a lot of tramping! Now I know how DOC workers feel when they have to climb, I mean walk, around the hill to set all those traps! 🤣

Anyhow, it was a great loop to run. The river crossing was ankle deep. Despite my mishap, I really enjoyed this run. As I am a sucker for punishment, I will be back next for more. Note to self: remember to look for and follow the RED triangles! I definitely recommend this loop.

Kevin Allen

February 24

Defo worth a five-star review. This track has a bit of everything. Wide gravel trails, beautiful scenery, flat sections, OMFG steep sections, roots, mud, stairs, walkways, stream crossings and a nice big reservoir! The up up up up is rewarded with a nice downhill to finish. Imagine that it can get really gnarly in the winter as the tree roots and clay become even more slippery!

Jon Culley

April 18, 2022

Loved this one, lots of mud and tree roots. Well worth the view! Went clockwise and enjoyed the reward of a few km running downhill on the gravel road after that climb.

Joyce Leevard

August 15, 2021

What a great day out! A beautiful track with plenty of single trail. Great for a hot day as the majority is under cover and felt really cool! Very technical-lots of tree roots so be aware of where you place your feet. Also parts quite muddy, and this is Jan so wouldn’t like to see it in winter! Cool wee river to cross. Take note of the review before mine to look left as you come across it (if going clockwise). Don’t go straight over. We went clockwise to warm up on the “flatter” part first. Was a good call for our first time. The mountain in the middle is pretty epic! It goes straight up for a very long time! Great views from the top. Heard and saw a Kaka. Awesome! Along the track saw several other runners which was nice as otherwise it could feel a bit isolated. Bit if a drive from Auckland city/Shore but well worth it! Can’t wait to get back out there!

Trina McClune

January 11, 2021

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