The Mt. Karioi track in Raglan, New Zealand is the most challenging track I have done to date. I have walked longer but this one physically took a toll on my body. A couple months before our move to Australia I set an ambitious goal to complete a new walking trail each week and my friend agreed to help me reach my goal.
To arrive at the track, you pass Raglan and continue along the coastline for about 8 kilometers (Wainui Rd) before turning on Whaanga Road for the last 4-5 kilometers. Whaanga Road turns into a gravel road the last bit as you head up the mountain to the Te Toto Gorge carpark. The signage is not obvious so we had to stop and confirm with a local before proceeding through an open gate. The walk beings at the Te Toto Gorge and entrance located directly across from the carpark. There is a short 2 minute walk from the carpark down to a viewing platform so worth a stop before or after the climb.
This particular day we had time constraints due to school pick-up. This resulted in us only making it to the lookout instead of the desired summit. There are two different tracks leading to the Mt. Karioi summit and this track is the longest and more difficult of the two. The website states it takes 2 1/2 – 3 hours each way to lookout and 3 – 3 1/2 hours each way to summit. I figured out after a few of these walks that I tend to be on the faster side of the time scales.
The beginning of the trail is a bush walk but this does not go on for long before it opens to this steep grassy hill. The stunning view is behind you though. Just look at the blue sky and water! We made a few stops just to take in the scenery.
The jaw-dropping views of Raglan’s rugged coastline make this side worth the extra time and effort. Honestly there is not a bad view on this entire walk! The trail is a little less defined than previous walks we have done but this made the experience even better. I felt like a local doing a proper climb without the many tourists that you find on the popular walks. We only saw a handful of people the entire day which allowed us to go at our own pace. No cell phone reception during most of the walk and only the sound of birds in the background (and my own heavy breathing from not being as fit as I would like). My friend and I would chat on and off but overall used the day to enjoy the peace you feel in this environment.
The trail continues making its way to the main ridge. We used trees and plants to help balance as the track narrows in areas. Watch out for the occasional branch sticking out! I had a couple good bruises post walk from catching a few stray limbs.
This particular day came after heavy rain too which lead to an extra muddy path. I had read that the track had installed ladders and chains to assist hikers. I thought they meant meant a couple stairs until we approached this ladder. Wowzers! This part would not give the warm and fuzzy feelings to those afraid of heights. But man what a view from the top!
We continued on through a flatter section of the trail before beginning to ascend again. Then we found the chains! This was not what we had expected at all! In previous walks chains were there but I only used them as an added balance. This particular walk took all my upper body strength as I carefully placed my feet on rocks and pulled myself up (all the mud didn’t help). There were two different chains that I worked between before reaching the top. We went one at a time not to pull on the grip and helping to guide each other on foot placement. We were covered in mud but a big sense of satisfaction came over us after reaching the top of the chains and finding our way to the lookout.
The trail split with the right leading on to the summit and the left trail only about a 10 minute walk to the Lookout.
Time to have lunch and take in the scenery! The town of Raglan and beach were in direct view. We could see the summit from the lookout that I had the opportunity to conquer a few weeks later with Aubrey (from the other track).
There was a faint view of Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu located in Tongario National Park. I did not bring my camera attachments with me on the climb so the pictures are not the best. Looking off to the right gave a visual of the wind farm too.
Once we were done with lunch, it was time to turn around and head back to the carpark. The most difficult part of the return was descending backwards on the chains but moved quickly down the mountain after clearing this section. The downward slope is always more challenging on my knees and ankles. I could feel the fatigue by the time we reached the grassy hill. The soreness would follow me into a good part of the next week too!
After arriving at the car park, we decided to walk the 2 minutes down to the platform for one last scenic view. We earned it! The ride home left me exhausted but on a natural high. What is it about climbing a mountain that makes me feel alive!