Submitted by Petr Faitl
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Front country - easily accessible
Undulating, small hills only
Not Suitable (Slow)
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This loop joins three well-known tracks in the Kaimais. The North-South, Te Tuhi trail (West - East) and the Leyland O'Brian tramway. Another notable feature is the recent (2019) hut, Te Whare Okioki, which provides an opportunity for a stop, refreshment and perhaps a bit chin-wag with the guests.
The begining of the loop starts at a carpark clearing at the very end of Whakamarama road. There are several paths that might take you on short forest walks, so it's important to find the correct route. It should be signposted as Leyland O'Brian Tramway trail. Set off in the clockwise direction, which is easier to start with, as it meanders alongside the Ngamuwahine River for the first 4km or so. You'll be required to cross the stream a few times, so be prepared to get your feet wet early on. This is the best maintained segment and a nice single track experience for a novice trail runners.
Bear slightly right at the Ngamuwahine track junction and keep following the Leyland O'Brian Tramway for another 3km. The terrain underfoot will become a bit more challenging, muddy and rooty. The real fun begins once you join the North-South trail. The trail is not as frequented and as a result is overgrown at places. There are also trees fallen across the path, so navigate carefully around them. This section up to the hut is more of a tramp than a run. It is exceedingly rooty and muddy, even days after rainfall. Take your time, as phone coverage is non-existent and broken or sprained ankles would present a serious problem.
Te Whare Okioki hut is one of the most recent additions to the network in the Kaimais and is very solidly built from cinder blocks. It would offer a welcome shelter if the weather took a turn for the worst. Another 2k onward you'll come across a junction with the Te Tuhi trail. And unless you fancy extending your trip to the Wairere falls (another 1:15hrs one-way), then turn right onto the Ngamarama/Te Tuhi track. From then onwards, posted as 3hr walk (about half that when running), the track undulates up and down with some nice segments where you can enjoy a good single trail underfoot.
The track becomes less rooty but no less muddy, after a bit of rainfall. Just before the end, you'll descend about 50m down some steps, which is often the reason why some may prefer to run it in the clockwise direction. The last little nugget is by taking the long way to the carpark, at a junction at the bottom of the steps. This is a nice gravel single track with several boardwalks. A last little climb and you are back to the carpark, precisely 21.1k.
Features of interest
Part of the run follows the historic Leyland O'Brian tramway. Railway sleepers, wheels and carriage axles can be found on route.
Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 60%
Moderate Single Track: 35%
Easy Single Track: 5%
Travelling from Tauranga, you can take the Barrett Road just before the Gull petrol station at Whakamarama. Google Maps will try to send you down to Youngson road. Either way, you'll end up on the Whakamarama Road. Follow it as far as it goes, down the small gravel road, all the way to a carpark with benches and boulders.
There is sufficient parking for 10+ vehicles. Though as these trails are frequented by hunters, there might be a few overnight stayers.
It's not too difficult to navigate, as long as you follow the main trail. Perhaps the trickiest is the starting point, as the carpark features several trailheads.
Short-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map, Gaiters.
You'll be crossing plenty of streams on your way that offer clean water, coming from the forest.
Can become quite muddy. Gaitors might be an advantage.
Exposed roots are very slippery even days after a rainfall, so greater care is recommended.
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