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Pararaha Cowans Stream Bash, Auckland

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Pararaha Cowans Stream BashIntermediate - Experienced

Submitted by Simon Wickham

Info Info
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Trail Information







Front country - easily accessible


Very hilly

Native bush
Open ridges/tops

Intermediate - Experienced

4:00 (Slow)
3:15 (Moderate)
2:00 (Fast)



CLOSED DUE TO KAURI DIEBACK. You can sign up to e-updates re the track situation in both the Waitakere and Hunua Ranges here.

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Start by heading up a climb to the highest point on Buck Taylor Track from the carpark. Short climb before you start the mainly downhill (with one more climb) to the coastal lagoons of Pararaha Valley. You'll pass Zion Hill Tk and Zion Ridge Tk on your right (ignore these and follow Buck Taylor to the boardwalk with Pararaha Valley Tk (turn left here).
Follow the Pararaha Valley Tk up to the Pararaha Shelter (and a toilet). At this point head down into the Pararaha Stream. From here it's a challenging route only without much running but a great adventure. Follow the stream up through many boulder hops, scrambling over boulders, creek beds and some hands needed here to scale rock on each side of the gorge. Keep an eye out for pieces of track on each side (they come and go) but mainly follow the track. You'll come across a couple of waterfalls that you need to use a track on the left hand side (looking upstream) of the valley to scale around the side of. You'll pass Walker Stream on your right. You'll also pass over a log jam and large boulders in the valley.
Eventually after an hour or two (depending on your speed) you'll see a small junction where the track forks left or right (left takes you up Pararaha Stream to Odlin Timber Tk - much shorter and less waterfalls) and right (looking upstream) takes you up Cowans Stream which continues on in the manner you have been (waterfalls, rock pools etc). The right hand Cowans Stream option is the better - much like the Jurassic Park like country you've just been up. You'll come across a couple more large waterfalls (the first has a bypass track on the left), the second (has a large log halfway in the falls - see pics) has a bypass on the right. After the waterfall the stream flattens out a bit and eventually you'll meet the crossing for Odlins Timber Track - take this track left (looking upstream) and follow it up a short climb before a longer downhill to Pararaha Stream. Go straight across for your last climb that leads back to the carpark. A great adventurous course.

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Features of interest

Gorge, massive boulders, big waterfalls, rock pools, a log jam from old kauri milling days and rock climbing sections. This is not for the faint hearted and barely a run more an adventure. Never try it after or during rain you will become trapped.

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 45%

Technical Single Track: 30%

Moderate Single Track: 25%

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


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I did it!
  • Access

    Lone Kauri Road, Karekare. From Auckland head towards Piha and Karekare beach on Piha Rd. Take Lone Kauri Road on your left and following this a few km to a carpark on your left (the trailhead of Odlins Timber Track and Buck Taylor Track)

    Plenty of parking no issues re. security to date

    3 km

    6 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Never run this in rain, after rain or when rain is expected. It has a large catchment and no other ways out of the gorge plus the rocks you'll need to scale can be slippery when wet (fine the rest of the time)

    Very patchy.

    Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.

    Plenty in the stream that flows all year (although at the campsite they do recommend boiling it) - there's a tap at Pararaha Shelter. I have filled bottles from here and the stream but do so at your own risk I guess

    Summer gives you heaps of swimming holes, winter watch the forecast

    You need to be comfortable with heights in places and scrambling over rock (where you'll use hands and feet) and rough tracks (routes)

  • Post run indulgence

    Great bush outlook and cold beer, good food, coffee

    Hardware Cafe
    Coffee and modern cafe food etc.

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