North Taranaki Hiking Trails

North Taranaki is a region of contrasts, with rolling farmland, rugged hill country and a dynamic coastline. The ring-plain which surrounds Mount Taranaki (Egmont) has been cleared of forest and is intensively farmed.

There are many scenic and historic reserves in this area which can easily be reached from New Plymouth by car, for picnics and short walks.

The rich Maori history of the area is reflected in the large number of pa sites and historic places. The Maori people of North Taranaki are descendants from the Tokomaru canoe, which landed at the Mohakatino River mouth.

The anchor­stone is now in the New Plymouth Museum. The North Taranaki hill country is relatively undeveloped and retains much of its native forest cover. although some valley floors were cleared for farming. Hunting and hiking are the main attractions in the hillcountry.

There are several forest tracks with limited camping facilities and no huts, which offer the chance for a real wilderness experience.

North Taranaki's native coastal forests are some of the last remaining in the North Island and are therefore scientifically important In addition, many northern plant species and the endangered North Island kokako, reach their southern limit in this area.

The scenic Mokau, Mohakatino, Waitara, Tangarakau and Tongaporutu Rivers flow down from the hills to a coast characterised by estuaries, black iron sand beaches, rugged cliffs and rocky shores.

The Sugar Loaf Islands Conservation Park, off the coast of New Plymouth, is the only marine protected area in the region. It provides for a range of recreational activities, particularly sightseeing trips, fishing and diving.

Safety:

  • Choose a track that suits your level of fitness and experience.
  • Keep to the track.
  • Get local advice on track and weather conditions before setting out (see Contact Addresses )
  • Be prepared for changes in the weather. Weather can change quickly and heavy rain and high winds can hit backcountry areas even in summer.
  • Take warm clothes, (including hat and gloves, waterproof raincoat)
  • Take high energy food. 
  • Boil, chemically treat, or filter water before drinking.

National Track Standards

Walking Track - A defined, formed track. Constructed to 'shoe' standard.

hiking trail - Limited track formation, often with steep grades. Constructed to 'boot' standard. Suitable for experienced people with a high level of fitness.

Route - Lightly cut marked or unmarked track, often with steep grades. Suitable for fit and very experienced trampers.

For your own safety

  • Tell someone - where you are going - what you intend to do - when you will return.
  • Track times as shown are only as a guide. Take this into consideration...when planning your trip. Walk at your own pace.

Environmental Care Code

  • PROTECT PLANTS AND ANIMALS
  • REMOVE RUBBISH
  • BURY TOILET WASTE
  • KEEP STREAMS AND LAKES CLEAN
  • TAKE CARE WITH FIRES
  • CAMP CAREFULLY
  • KEEP TO THE TRACK
  • CONSIDER OTHERS
  • RESPECT OUR CULTURAL HERITAGE
  • ENJOY YOUR VISIT
  • Toitu te whenua (Leave the land undisturbed)


Whitecliffs Walkway

Hiking trails (5hrs)

Note: Whitecliffs Walkway is closed from 1 July to 30 September because of lambing on the private farmland. Whitecliffs Walkway begins at the Pukearuhe Historic Reserve which is located at the end of Pukearuhe Rd, north of Urenui.

This walkway uses the Kapuni to Auckland gas pipeline route for a considerable distance. The laying of the pipeline involved an immense amount of heavy construction work and these operations opened up walking access to the dramatic forest and coastal country of the region.

The walkway crosses open farmland (privately owned) to Mt Davidson, where it enters Whitecliffs Conservation Area. It then follows the pipeline route along the ridge tops before descending to the Waipingau Stream.

Here you can divert from the track and retum to Pukearuhe by following the stream to the coast (1.2km) and hiking south along the beach (tide permitting). The walkway continues to the Parininihi Ridge and then descends to the Waikorora Stream.

Those not wanting to continue on to Tongaporutu may deviate to the stream mouth or the Te Horo stock tunnel and along the beach to Pukearuhe (6.9km, 3.5hrs).

Warning: The beach between the Waipingau Stream and Pukearuhe (4.5km, 1.5hrs) is accessible only at low tide. If you have planned a walk along the beach as part of your trip, please check tide times beforehand.

For your own safety do not attempt the walk unless you can reach Pukearuhe no later than 2hrs after low tide.

The remainder of the walkway follows Clifton Rd through private farmland and then the sealed road to the Tongaporutu Recreation Reserve. The reserve gives access to the coast and excellent cliff views.

The total length of the track is 9.6km. respect this, use the stiles and keep to the track ... Prior transport arrangements are required at the Tongaporutu end.

Stony River Walkway:

Walking Track ( 1.5hrs )

The Stony River Walkway is located in Okato township on SH45. Start at either the swing bridge on the Old South Road, or the Okato Domain .

Starting from the swing bridge, this walk follows the Kaihih i Stream and passes through the William Corbett Scenic Reserve.

The walkway crosses farmland and returns along the Stony (Hangatahua) River. There are excellent views of Mount Taranaki, the Pouakai Range and the Stony River.

The Stony River features trout pools, swimming holes and pa sites (which are in the vicinity of the walkway though not actually on it). Across the river is the site of Ngaweka Pa, probably the most important pa in the Okato district

This walkway includes private land which should be respected at all times. Most fences are electrified and should not be touched. Please use the stiles and keep to the track

Other Walkways:

Waitara West Walkway - New Plymouth District Council... Location: 16km north-east of New Plymouth.

Te Henui Walkway - New Plymouth District Council... Location: In New Plymouth, 1.7km from the city centre.

Huatoki Walkway - New Plymouth District Council... Location: Sir Victor Davies Memorial Park" Powerderham St - New Plymouth.

For further info: contact the New Plymouth Information Centre (see Contact Addresses).

Moki Track:

hiking trail (5hrs)

This track is located 65kms north of New Plymouth via Uruti Rd. It links the eastern and westem ends of the unformed Moki Road.

Access to the western end of the track is from the north side of Moki Rd/Waitara River bridge. The eastern end of the track starts at the end of the formed Moki Rd, south of the airstrip on farmland. 

Gates should be left as found and stock undisturbed. The track goes through Makino Conservation Area, generally following the south bank of the upper Waitara River.

The track began as a surveyed road alignment that was to be developed to service the rehabilitation farms of soldiers after the first Wor1d War. Three farms were established in the valley; the remains of two homesteads can be seen along the eastern end of the track.

 Land that was cleared is now regenerating. The track follows generally easy grades and is levelled along most of its 18km length. This work was done with wheelbarrows, picks and shovels as ear1y as 1910.

The terrain is rough and suspension bridges cross five of the deeper chasms. Both ends of the track pass through some 3km of farmland before entering the forest which contains good stands of tawa, kamahi and rimu.

A return trip is necessary, unless prior transport arrangements have been made.

Rerekapa Track:

hiking trail (3.5-4hrs)

This track is located 68km north of New Plymouth via Uruti/Moki/Kiwi Rds. or 81 km north of New Plymouth via Ahititi/SH40/Kiwi Rds.

The scenic Moki and Kiwi Rds are narrow and unsealed and historically significant They were made around 1910 by road workers using wheel barrows. picks and shovels.

The Moki Rd was originally a pack trail from Uruti to Tahora. The Rerekapa track starts at Kiwi Rd and crosses open farmland, through two gates, then turns left across Blacketts Creek.

The track skirts the base of the ridge and winds to the top of a low saddle, then down through undisturbed tawal kamahi forest into the valley. There have been sightings of kokako in this area.

The Boys Brigade hut is 1 hr from Kiwi Rd, at the head of the valley. Past the hut on the left are the headwaters of the Waitara River.

The track reaches a boundary fence and crosses the Irwin farm. following the fence line to a former homestead site and the 10m high Rerekapa Falls (2hrs 45mins from the Kiwi Rd).

Beyond the farm buildings the track re­-enters the Moki Forest which, on this section of the track, has been logged but not cleared. The track finally emerges opposite the picnic area on the Mangapapa Rd, which links Moki and Okau Rds and is part of the historic Stratford/Taumarunui Heritage trail.

Toilets, a barbecue and camping area are located in a clearing a few metres off the Mangapapa Rd. The clearing is easily accessible by car and the Rerekapa Falls are only 1 hr from this point Either arrange to have a car waiting at Mangapapa Rd, or return to Kiwi Rd (3.5hrs).

Waitaanga South Road to Te Rerepahupahu Falls:

Route (4.5hrs)

Waitaanga South Rd is off SH40, 97km north of New Plymouth. A sign indicating the route is at the end of the road. ­ This track follows an historic logging tramline, firstly through regenerating kamahi, then silver beech and finally podocarp (eg. totara, rata and kahikatea) forest in the Waitaanga Stream valley .

White poles mark the first part of the route over farmland to the bush edge. Waitaanga Forest is unusual in that it contains the only remnant silver beech stand in Taranaki.ln addition, poorly drained parts support a number of other regionally rare plants such as giant astelias, dracophyllum, (neinei) and swamp sedges.

In several places the track crosses the river, on swing bridges ( cross one person at a time). The route goes through several grassy clearings and tums right up a ridge, then descends through virgin mixed podocarp forest to the valley floor.

Te Rerepahupahu Falls are 5mins upstream from the last wire bridge . A campsite is located 15mins downstream from the falls. From the campsite you can retum to Waitaanga South Rd, or with prior transport arrangements:

(a) continue out to Tatu MinelWaro Rd entrance (4hrs).

(b) continue out to the Mt Damper Falls carpark (7.5hrs).

Tatu to Te Rerepahupahu Falls

Route (3.5 .4hrs)

The entrance to this route is on Waro Rd off SH43 (In dry weather it is possible to drive the 5km to the Tatu Mine ).

White poles mark the route up the ridge to the bush line and on through the regenerating kamahi forest There are good views towards Taumarunui. After 1 hr the track reaches the main ridge and Tatu trig (606m).

The track then follows a ridge line above the Tangarakau River. Mature rimu rise above the tawa canopy. The track enters an open beech forest before descending steeply to the junction of the Waitaanga Stream and Tangarakau River.

A swing bridge spans the Tangarakau River and the track then heads upstream, beside the Waitaanga Stream, to Te Rerepahupahu Falls and the campsite. From the campsite you can return to Waro Rd (4hrs), or with prior transport arrangements:

(a) continue out to Waitaanga SouthRd (4hrs)

(b) continue out to Mt. Damper Falls carpark (7.5hrs)

Mt. Damper to Te Rerepahupahu Falls

Route (7.5 - 9hrs )

This track is only recommended for fit and experienced trampers. This is the longest of the Waitaanga Forest walks and is an overnight trip.

The route starts from Mt Damper Falls carpark on the Okau Rd with picnic facilities and toilets located a short distance away. The 15min walk to Mt Damper Falls (74m) is well marked and leads to the lookout platform.

From the falls follow the signpost , then white poles to the stile and entrance to the Waitaanga Forest. Follow the disc markers to the left There are extensive views over the Waitaanga Forest to the Kotare Scenic Reserve in the north .

After 1.5hrs the track climbs a small spur through regenerating kamahi, reaching the main ridge 30mins later. The track then enters tawa forest interspersed with mature rimu and rata. You reach Mt Damper after 2.5 - 3hrs.

The summit marker (528m) is on a side ridge to the left of the track. After 6hrs the track descends to the Waitaanga River Valley. South from the ridge are views of the beech forest in the Tatu track region .

After a further 30mins, the track comes to the edge of a high bluff with a view of one of the last remaining unlogged mixed podocarp forests in Taranaki. The descent to the river valley and the walk to Te Rerepahupahu Falls takes 1 hr. There is a clearing beside the falls which can be used for camping.

There are no other facilities. The next day, from the campsite. you can return to Mt Damper Falls carpark (7.5hrs), or with prior transport arrangement:

(a) continue out to Tatu Mine/Waro Rd entrance (4hrs).

(b) continue out to Waitaanga South Rd (4hrs).

Mount Messenger

There are two routes starting from Mount Messenger. Both begin on SH3. 50km north of New Plymouth and approximately 1 km from the base of the southern side of Mt Messenger.

To Kiwi Road

Route (5-5.5hrs)

This route descends to a regenerating kahikatea swamp and then continues up the ridge above the Mimi River valley. The open mixed tawalkamahi forest on the ndge is interspersed with small patches of hard beech forest.

The route continues over several ridges and then descends and levels out . The route skirts around Oenone trig (351 m) and continues along the ridge towards Rerekapa Station, which is managed by Landcorp (permission is needed to cross, see Contact Addresses).

Beyond Rerekapa Station you can see the forest of the Makino Conservation Area. The route then climbs over several steep peaks to Huanui trig (353m) and then descends into a gully with a small stream. A steep climb leads onto an easier section, which follows the ridge out to the open farmland of Rerekapa Station and on to Kiwi Rd. 

Either arrange to have a car waiting at Kiwi Rd, or return to Mount Messenger. The track is not marked where it comes out onto the Kiwi Road in the vicinity of an airstrip.

To Whitecliffs Walkway

Route (4hrs)

This track climbs through tawa forest up a steep ridge to the summit 'of Mt Messenger (310m). It then continues along the ridge through tawheowheo and kamahi forest Rata are visible on the slopes below,and their flowers, in December/January, attract tui and bell birds. 

The westem slopes are damper, with tawa, ponga and the occasional pukatea tree. Waipingau, the second highest point of the route, is reached approximately 1.5hr after the start and is marked by an old iron survey peg.

From here the track descends to the coast Approximately 30m ins before reaching Whitecliffs the track crosses the Maui gas pipeline. A short section through nikau forest leads to the Whitecliffs Walkway .

The Waipingau catchment contains the best remaining example of native coastal broadleaf forest podocarp forest and shrubland on the west coast of the North Island. From Whitecliffs Walkway you can retum to Mount Messenger, or with prior transport arrangements, follow the Walkway in either direction (see Whitecliffs Walkway).

Note: Whitecliffs Walkway is closed from 1 July to 30 September because of lambing on private land .

This means access from the coastal end of the track is limited to a descent to the Waipingau Stream and a walk along the beach to Pukearuhe (tide permitting and with prior transport arrangements). It is better to avoid the Whitecliffs Walkway during these months and plan a return trip to Mount Messenger.

Please note: It is traditional not to take food onto a pa with a fighting history, or onto burial sites.

Awa - te - Take Historic Reserve

This 26.8ha reserve is on the Waitara River and is reached by an easy 1 km walk along an unformed road from the end of Ngati Maru Rd. The pa consists of a semi-circular defended living area which backs onto a high cliff above the Waitara River.

At the front are two large defence ditches. Throughout the pa are food storage pits (rua). The living area has been levelled to make up various platforms and terraces for houses and cooking areas. 

The outlines of the pa are now less distinct because of second growth vegetation, predominantly rewarewa. Inside the pa is an old totara tree.

Pukerangiora Historic Reserve

his reserve of 14.6ha is accessible from Brixton on SH3 via Te Arei Rd. At Pukerangiora there are archaeological remains relating to many important events in nineteenth century Taranaki. There was inter-tribal fighting here in the 1820s and 30s.

Pukerangiora was twice besieged by Waikato tribes. During the second seige many of the resident Te Atiawa people tried to escape and were killed or taken as slaves. Many women jumped off the cliff with their children to avoid their fate at the hands of the Waikato warriors.

There are also signs of military activity from the first (1860/61) and Second (1863/66) Taranaki Wars. Early in 1861 General Pratt led a large force of British troops against the pa. which was defended by the Waikato and Te Atiawa people now allied against a common. enemy.

Pratt built eight redoubts and dug a 2km long sap (trench) towards the strongly defended pa. When the sap reached the Maori defences a truce was arranged. the Waikato returned home and the first Taranaki War ended. During the Second Taranaki War (1864) Maori forces again occupied the pa.

This time the British forces took it without a shot being fired. There are several signs posted which explain the historical features of this site.

Waitoetoe Recreation Reserve

This 4.6ha reserve is located near the Mimi River estuary and access is via Waitoetoe Rd off SH3. There is a carpark but no other facilities. The reserve is mainly flat and grassed and is good for picnicking.

It is sheltered to the south by mature macrocarpa on an old cliff. There is direct access to Waitoetoe Beach for swimming and surfcasting. Sand dune plant communities are fragile, so please keep dune disturbance to a minimum.

Okoki Pa Historic Reserve

A short metalled road leads from SH3 to a parking and picnic area on cleared land. The rest of the 17.2ha reserve is in bush, which completely obscures the site of the ancient Okoki Pa .

This pa was the scene of a fierce battle in 1822 and was successfully defended against the Waikato. invaders . The bodies of the Waikato chiefs were hung on a huge titoki tree which stood near the bridge over the Mangatiti Stream which runs through the reserve.

There is a deep narrow trench leading towards the river on the south-west side of the pa which was probably an escape route. At the northem end of the pa is a concrete crypt and memorial to Te Rangihiroa (Sir Peter Buck) in the form of a stylised prow of a huge war canoe.

Te Rangihiroa was bom in Urenui around 1880. After distinguished service in the New Zealand army, medicine, politics and literature he moved to Honolulu where he died in 1951.

The large karaka trees on the north­west boundary are thought to be pre European. The rest of the bush regenerated when Maori occupation ceased, rewarewa is dominant .

Everett Park Scenic Reserve

A combination of open spaces, water and bush make this 77ha reserve a popular picnic area. It is located 9km north-east of Inglewood with the Manganui River on one side and Everett Rd on the other. A track from the parking area at the northern end goes through bush to a large cave on the bank of the river.

At night glow-worms are visible on the roof of the cave. There are large swimming holes in the river and two picnic areas (with car access from November to March). The dominant trees are kamahi and tawa.

Meeting Of The Waters Scenic Reserve

This 25.4ha reserve is located at the junction of the Waiwhakaiho River and the Mangorei Stream on SH3. There is vehicle access at the southem end of the reserve leading to an attractive picnic area on the riverbank.

A good walking track also leads to the picnic area from the road at the northem end. Tawa is the dominant tree type, along with kahikatea, matai and large totara.

Ratapihipihi Scenic Reserve

This reserve of 20.2ha is on Cowling Rd on the south side of New Plymouth. A short driveway leads to an open picnic area. There is a 45min round trip through the bush on a well maintained and easy path.

An old saw pit is beside the track near the start and another further on with the remnants of previous logging operations . The name Ratapihipihi is derived from a traditional Maori hunting method.

Hunters would attract kaka and other birds by sitting in a tree and making a "pihipihi" call by blowing through a leaf placed in the mouth. The birds attracted were then killed with a short club.

Parihamore I Puketarata Historic Reserves

These two well preserved pa are within New Plymouth, on the westem side of the Te Henui Stream valley and have a total area of 4.9ha. Parihamore is at the end of Bell Street behind the polytechnic.

There is a small platform defended by a single ditch at the uphill (south) end, and a double ditch and bank on the west and north sides . Puketarata, sometimes known as Puketi, can also be reached via the polytechnic.

This pa is on the highpoint of a spur on the left bank of Te Henui Stream and is covered in thick regenerating bush. The pa is a ring ditch type with an additional traverse ditch protecting the south-west end. The earthworks are not easy to see and are very fragile, so please take care not to damage them.

Tangarakau Scenic Reserve

The Tangarakau River, high sandstone bluffs and the steep, broken, forest-clad hill country of this 2642ha reserve make SH43 between Tahora and Tatu a truly scenic drive.

This is the largest reserve in Taranaki and contains stands of rare forest types in which rimu, miro and Hall's totara grow with kamahi, tawheowheo, hinau and tawa, in association with hard and black beech .

This gives the reserve considerable scientific importance. About halfway through Tangarakau Gorge is Joshua Morgan's grave (sign­posted). He was the first surveyor in this area He died on March 3rd 1893 of appendicitis while surveying a road through the gorge.

Mokau River Scenic Reserves

Thirteen separate reserves with a total area of 2819.8ha extend 22km inland up the left bank of the Mokau River from the river mouth. Rare coastal forest swamp and estuarine vegetation is found in the lower reserves.

Access to the reserves is mainly by water . The river is well used by whitebaiters and jet-boaters. Between 1884 and 1940 eight coal mines operated on the Mokau River. Seven of these were within a 1.6km radius of the junction of the Mangatoi Stream and the Mokau River, and one was 3km up towards Mangawakino valley.

Together these mines produced 117,200 tons of coal which was transported down the river by barge to be used in steamships and sold as fuel to local dairy factories. The remains of a lime kiln, made from solid limestone blocks, is located 3km above the Awakau Rd bridge .

Of special interest is the presence of black beech which is locally rare.

Blue Rata Scenic Reserve

This 32.8ha reserve on the right bank of the Stony (Hangatahua) River has / scenic, picnic and fishing attractions. It is close to the boundary of Egmont National Park on Saunders Rd. There are sheltered picnic sites on the roadside and along the river bank with good places to swim. 

The bush is dominated by kamahi, but the reserve is called Blue Rata because it is scientifically important as a refuge of the 'Stony River Blue Rata'. This tree is a terrestrial form of the common northem rata.

The blue-tinged timber is dense, straight grained and very strong, making it highly desirable for logging. Originally there were 2500ha of blue rata forest this was milled in the 1930s. The reserve has the best remaining stand of blue rata outside Egmont National Park.

Te Koru Historic Reserve

This once great Taranaki pa is located on a bend of the Oakura River. The 2.7ha reserve is accessible from the end of Surrey Hill Rd off Wairau Rd, via a farm track down to the river.

The pa is hidden under bush on the left at the river flat. There is a stile over the fence to the right. A track leads to the main defensive ditch, and onto a series of stone faced terraces. These extend down to the river and up to the highest platform where the senior chiefs lived.

There are food storage pits (rua) throughout the pa On the top-most platform rectangular depressions mark old house sites. There is a picnic area with swimming pools on the grazed river flat to the east of the pa.

The stonework is fragile so please do not touch it or climb the steep banks. Please keep to the tracks.

William Corbett Scenic Reserve

Located on the right bank of the Kaihihi Stream and close to the Okato Domain, this 2.3ha reserve consists of flat river terraces and cliffs. The Old South Rd leads to the entrance near the footbridge. A right of way gives access from Curtis Street. The bush consists mainly of matai, kahikatea, and kohekohe.

Contact Addresses:

  • DOC New Plymouth Reid Centre ­220 Devon Street West New Plymouth, (06) 758-0433
  • New Plymouth Information Centre ­cnr Leach & Uardet Streets . New Plymouth , (06) 758-6086
  • Waitara Public Relations Office ­62 Mclean St Waitara ( 06)754405
  • Stratford Information Centre ­cm Broadway & Miranda Sts, Stratford.
    ( 06)765-6708
  • DOC Stratford Reid Centre ­PemContact Addresses:broke Rd. Stratford, ( 06 ) 765-5144
  • DOC Wan ganui Conservancy Office ­cnr St Hill & Ingestre Streets, Wanganui, (06) 345-2402
  • Tourism Taranaki­ Private Bag 2058, New Plymouth.
  • Weather ­ Meteorological Office , ( 0900) 99-939
  • Rerekapa Station Manager. Urenui , ( 06) 752-6819

Related Article:

Taranaki - Information of Taranaki region in New Zealand