Ohinemuri to WaitawhetaBeginner
Submitted by John Scott
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Front country - easily accessible
Undulating, small hills only
Native bushRiversideOpen farmlands
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Note: this route uses 6.5 km of road running to join up the loop; of course you could use two cars or make some other arrangement to make an 18 km pure trail run. The road is scenic and quiet though.
Starting at the huge carpark on SH2, cross the Ohinemuri River on the big bridge. Then follow the track left and cross the Waitawheta river also on a bridge. You are then at a sign offering a choice between the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway, and the Windows Walk. Head for the Historic Walkway. The first 1.2km are a narrow fun trail alongside the river. Then you meet the rail trail as it exits the tunnel and crosses the river, and you follow this to Waitawheta Road at 4.7km.
Turn up the road, passing the attractive Owharoa Falls. Keep going, ignoring the turnoff to Dickey Flat, until the right turn to Franklin Rd is reached after a group of houses at the 8.9km mark. Go along Franklin Rd almost to the end, and 100m past the carpark for trampers there’s a track leading up steps to the right with a sign saying “Dean Track”. Go up here. There’s now 1km across an attractive farm, gradually climbing, until you reach the Forest Park boundary.
Keep going at an easy uphill and at the 13.6km mark you reach the junction with the Mangakino Pack Track. Turn right and follow this. It’s gently undulating with nice forest running for a couple of km, then the track drops 200m steeply down to cross the Mangakino stream. This is usually quite a small stream. 500m further on you reach the Waitawheta river. Of the six crossings of the river on this loop this is the only ford. It can be a surprisingly big river and is NOT safe to cross when in flood. At normal levels it’s fine.
Once across you now follow the river for nearly 8 glorious km, all the way back to it’s junction with the Ohinemuri where you started. You pass through some stunning kauri forest, beautiful Dickey Flat campground, a miner’s tunnel, a beautiful gorge, and will meet heaps of tourists and walkers as you near the carpark again.
Features of interest
Interesting mining history in the area, many interpretation panels and lots of industrial relics to see.
Make Up of Run
Moderate Single Track: 35%
Easy Single Track: 25%
Farm Road / 4WD Track: 15%
Sealed Road: 25%
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
SH2 Karangahake Reserve Car Park, Karangahake Gorge
There is a huge carpark in the middle of the gorge - but it fills up fast on a busy day.
There's a huge menu of tracks near the carpark so get your bearings right at the start!
Lightweight fleece top, Windproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map.
The Mangakino stream (16km) should be OK but I would have to be pretty desperate before drinking from any other of the waterways here without treatment. Dickey flat only has river water.
Sheltered river valleys = should be good any time of year/ weather.
The only hazard is fording the Waitawheta at the 17km mark. It is a surprisingly big river after rain and isn't safe when in flood. You cross it on bridges twice before this so have a good look at the river level at those points if it's been raining.
Post run indulgence
Ti Tree Cafe
Haszard St Waihi
Nice courtyard, they won't mind if you're a bit grubby, great food and coffee.
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