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Ernie's loop, Auckland

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Ernie's loopBeginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Steve Neary

Info Info
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Trail Information







Urban fringe


Undulating, some big hills

Native bush

Beginner - Intermediate

3:15 (Slow)
2:30 (Moderate)
1:45 (Fast)



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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!

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Features of interest

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.

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 0%

Technical Single Track: 20%

Moderate Single Track: 10%

Easy Single Track: 15%

Gravel Road: 55%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

The following trails overlap with this run to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate Strava activity for each

Challenge / Ernies Loop

Challenge / Ernies Loop

Length: 21.00km

Rata Ridge - Hunua

Rata Ridge - Hunua

Length: 14.00km

Hunua Magic

Hunua Magic

Length: 23.60km


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  • Access

    You can drive to the park entrance from either Papakura or Bombay. Drive in on Moumoukai Rd ( continues into ARA Drive) from Paparimu Road. Follow it all the way to the car park below the Upper Mangatawhiri Dam. You can either run clock wise or anti clockwise. i.e to the left of the dam or over the dam and up the hill.

    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



  • Staying Safe


    Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the Capra app on your phone. View on Capra .

    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.

  • Post run indulgence

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

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