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April 2013 Issue
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A taste of the Hillary

Lake Wainamu
4-5hr one way
Many Hillary Trail walkers camp at craw campground near the track start
From Anawhata Rd. There is a small car parking area at the track head, otherwise park on the grass verge

Anawhata to Bethells Beach, Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

Walking Auckland’s multi-day Hillary trail is a goal of many but who says you have to do it all in one go when walking bite-sized sections can be just as satisfying a way to complete the trail.

The section from Craw Campground on Anawhata Road to Bethell’s Beach takes in much of the diverse landscape the Hillary Trail has become famous for: stunning coastal views, swimming holes, dense bush, huge kauri and even a bit of farmland.

The track begins with a short walk over a farm before entering regenerating bush and descending to Perihi Stream on the Kuataika Track. The stream is gentle and shallow but deep enough to cover your boots so we hop across on the handily placed boulders.

View from Kuataika Trig

View from Kuataika Trig

After crossing the stream, the track climbs steeply to join Smyth Ridge Track. This feels like a gut-busting climb but only totals about 220m of ascent. It feels worse than it is because it’s basically straight up and the track is fairly wide, just like an old 4WD track, and there isn’t much shade from the sun.

Once on Smyth Ridge, things become a whole lot easier as the track undulates easily to the next section of this walk. It’s worth taking a pause on the ridge to detour to Kuataika Trig for a break and to receive some welcome fresh air. The trig offers outstanding views of the coast, all the way north to Bethells and beyond. For those walking the Hillary Trail, you can look back to where you have come from and where you have yet to go. A cooling breeze blew in off the Tasman and it was a pleasure to sit here eating lunch while practising map reading skills trying, mostly successfully, to identify the visible beaches, streams and hills.

Smyth Ridge Track proves to be one of the nicer parts of the walk. The forest here is more mature and the track less of a 4WD track and more a bush trail.

Stream crossing

Stream crossing

At Wainamu Junction we find the second trigene station of the day and scrub and spray the soles of our boots before taking the left branching Houghton Track which drops steadily, past several nice-looking track-side kauri, to Lake Wainamu and the Lake Wainamu Track. At the eastern end of the lake is a small waterfall and swimming hole. Our group hops into their togs and enjoys a cool swim. A father and son walking the full Hillary Trail come by and decide they can’t resist the water either.

Lake Wainamu Track skirts the lake and then joins a gravel road for the final kilometre to the road end.

Walkers are now left in a bit of a bind. Their vehicles are 11km walk away on Anwhata Rd. Either double back the way you came or, if you’ve planned ahead like we did and have a second vehicle at the Bethells track end, you’ll have a 30-minute drive back to the track start.