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Hillary Trail Leg 1: Arataki to Whatipu, Auckland

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Hillary Trail Leg 1: Arataki to WhatipuBeginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Mal Law

Info Info

Trail Information







Front country - easily accessible

Point to Point (one way)

Very hilly

Native bush
Open farmlands

Beginner - Intermediate

5:00 (Slow)
3:45 (Moderate)
2:30 (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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I am hugely indebted to Mr Hillary Trail, Shaun Collins, for the description that follows, which is based on his comprehensive guide on the Hillary Trail Honours Board.

IMPORTANT: Please ensure you use all of the Council provided Kauri Dieback shoe wash stations you come across on the trail. We are all responsible for helping minimize the spread of this nasty disease.

The run starts at the HT infomation sign - head out on the Slip Track., which soon heads downhill. Cross the historical tramline and continue downward along the Slip Track. Once the track flattens out you'll come to a junction with Pipeline track (on the right). Pipeline Track is more narrow and a couple of hundred metre along it you have to clamber down a small gully, cross a cool little stream and back up.
At the end of Pipeline Track you come to an intersection with a gravel road (Lower Nihotupu Dam Road). Turn right.
This gravel road winds uphill soon after you join it and comes to a dead end. Hamilton Track starts from here (on the right.) Much of the once-technical trail has been replaced by boardwalk, which at least affords you the opportunity to look at the spectacular kauri through which you run.

Eventually you come to a four way intersection with Summit Track.The HT goes straight through west‐ish along Hamilton Track. You pop out onto a grassy 4WD track/firebreak all of a sudden. This is called Crusher Pipe Track. Turn left. In about 100m you hit a gravel road (Smiths Road). Turn right.

You will cross the dam on a bridge and then climb a bit to join a bigger gravel road (Huia Dam Road). Turn left. Follow Huia Dam Road all the way past the Lower Huia Dam, down the face of the dam on a sealed road now, heading to Huia Beach. There are some toilets on the left of the road, just over 100m after the bottom of the dam.

When you reach Huia Road turn right and follow it up the hill. Once past the hill top keep a look out for the driveway on the right for the Karamatura Farm. Follow this gravel driveway up the hill to the top where the farm buildings are and then head into the paddock. You will see a few HT markers that guide you down to the campsite next to the Karamatura Stream. Cross the stream. If you need water there is a tap if you turn left here and get to the Karamatura carpark. As you arrive at the carpark the tap is on the back side of the wooden railing on the left side of car park ‐ under a "No Fires" sign. From the carpark head up the hill following the signs for the Karamatura track and you will soon start following the Karamatura Stream heading up the valley.

If you don't need water then turn right after crossing the stream, on a small track which takes you up a little hill to join the main Karamatura Track which at this stage is a wee gravel track. Turn right. Follow this alongside the stream up the valley. After a while you will come to a junction with Tom Thumb Track on your right. Go left continuing up Karamatura Track and you will start to head up a steep, steep hill away from the Karamatura Stream.

When you get to the end of Karamatura Track you will arrive at a track junction with Donald McLean Track. Turn left. This junction is quite a major one and has a big coloured information board/sign on it. Follow Donald McLean Track, past the Bob Gordon Track junctions and past the Fletcher Track junction.

Your next turn is right down Puriri Ridge Track. Follow this until you come to a junction with Kura Track. Turn left at the junction and in a couple of hundred metres you'll hit Whatipu Road (gravel). Go straight across this road to the start of Omanawanui Track. Continue along Omanawanui Track. Shortly you come across the gravel road again. When you hit the road, follow it for about 10 metres and then Omanawanui Track goes back into the bush and continues on your left. There are awesome views on this track as it follows the ridgeline on the edge of the Manukau Harbour! You'll pass a trig and other lookout points. This is a gnarly track so take it easy on the narrow, windy downhills!

At the end of the track you arrive at Whatipu. You will cross a bridge over a small stream.
Go right to get to the carpark at the end of Whatipu Road. Congratulations, you have done Leg 1 on the legendary Hillary Trail!

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Features of interest

Beautiful native bush & stunning coastal views

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 35%

Moderate Single Track: 20%

Easy Single Track: 15%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 20%

Gravel Road: 5%

Sealed Road: 5%

Route Data


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Arataki Visitor Centre, Scenic Drive

    Huge car park. Check with DoC for opening/closing times as the barrier is time-controlled.

    5 km

    7 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Keep an eye out for the Hillary Trail marker signs and you shouldn't go too far wrong


    Short-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Map.

    Scarce, take your own.

    Very muddy in places after rain.

    Nothing out of the ordinary.

  • Post run indulgence

    The Huia Foodstore
    Huia Village
    Great food.

  • Blog Posts and Articles
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