On an earlier post I talked about one of my favorite climbing tracks in the Waikato region, the Hakarimata Summit. A few months before our relocation to Australia, this track was closed after tremendous flooding in the area washed away a significant section. They estimated it would take months to reopen and we would be moved by the time it was rebuilt. Our Thursday morning group had to look into other climbing tracks around the area. As much as I hated my favorite track was damaged, it forced me to attempt some climbs I might not have done if it had not flooded. One of these, the Kauri Loop, located in the Hakarimata Scenic Reserve and only a few kilometers down the road from the Summit Track.
As you might notice from the sign, they have an option to hike the full length of the Hakarimata Range which would take at least 5-8 hours depending on your fitness level and which trail you selected to start the descend (Waterworks or Rail Trails). Our group was usually a bit faster than the signs suggested. We had discussed parking a car on each end and giving it a go before the flood damaged part of the track. The middle section has a less defined path so good to go in groups with plenty of supplies.
The Kauri Loop track is the less crowded of the two but still offers some spectacular views from the upper lookout. You will find the car park located at the end of Parker Road just south of Huntley. The distance from Hamilton may prevent some from tackling the climb but worth the extra drive to see something new. The stair climb itself is not as difficult as the Summit track so avid climbers may feel it is too easy. You would have to make the climb a couple of times to compare to the other end of the Hakarimata Range.
There is a cleaning station at the start of the walk for shoes to help protect the Kauri trees. The spread of soil can harm the Kauri roots. Best to keep to the designated paths and clean gear before and after walk. Once your shoes are clean simply climb over the fence and start-up the stairs.
The track will quickly give you an option to veer off to the right for the Kauri Tree loop or continue straight up the stairs to the upper lookout. I recommend checking out the Kauri Trees at some point either before climbing to the upper lookout or on the way down. These stairs are well-maintained and easy to walk up. The trees are not as thick on many parts of the climb offering more sunshine with plenty of opportunities to pause and check out the views.
It took us about 15 minutes to reach the upper lookout with my climbing group (a little longer when Andrew and I took our girls).
The girls were a bit tired after the walk!
Kauri Loop Track
The Kauri Loop track takes you on a 1 kilometer walk through beautiful forest before spotting one of the largest Kauri Trees in the Waikato. This was the highlight of the track and worth the extra walking time.
Once you come to the massive Kauri tree, there are a few steps down to allow for an up-close look at this giant. We took pictures in front so you could get a good size comparison of this tree (estimated to be 1,000+ years old) and us.
From here, you can continue on for a bit through a younger Kauri forest before either returning the way you came or climbing another set of stairs to reach the same upper level.
I have taken both routes to the top and they each offer excellent views and a nice walk.