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April 2018 Issue
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Bell Rock Track, Boundary Stream Mainland Island Reserve

Standing beside the aptly-named Bell Rock. Photo: Heather Whelan
Distance
4.4km
Total Ascent
277m
Time
3hr return
Grade
Easy
Access
From Napier, drive 43km on SH2. Turn at Tutira onto Matahorua Road, then left on to Pohokura Road. The track begins 16km down this road
Map
BH39
GPX File
Bell Rock (gpx, 7 KB)
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A track to make your head ring

Pick a sunny day to walk the Bell Rock Track to be rewarded with spectacular views of the Hawke’s Bay countryside.

The Boundary Stream Mainland Island is protected by a predator-proof fence, providing a safe haven for at least 24 species of reintroduced native birds. They appear to be flourishing – among our tally were kaka, tui and bellbird.

From the roadside parking area, the track immediately enters beech and podocarp forest and leads gently upward for about 30-40 minutes. As elsewhere in the reserve, this area of bush has numerous traps for stoats and rats, and bait stations are laid out. It also has wooden weta houses attached to trees.

The path abruptly emerges into open grassland where a stile and DOC posts mark the route uphill. About 50m further on is a track junction marked by a sign showing Bell Rock Track to the left, a 30 minute uphill walk.

This section of the track crosses retired farmland, a marked contrast to the shady, green forest, but we were given wide views in all directions.

Just when we thought we were at the highest point, the track unexpectedly dips into a wide, grassy gully, but the marker poles could be seen going up the other side. A little further on, there is another stile and, finally, the most breathtaking views of the tramp. Ahead is a sheer drop into the valley, edged by weathered and sculptured limestone formations. Bell Rock is obviously named for its resemblance to a huge bell, the sort that hang in church belfries. Scrambling down to it, we could see the fossilised remains of shellfish embedded in the limestone, a look into New Zealand’s turbulent geological past.

After some exploring, we found a place on the ledge around Bell Rock to eat lunch and admire the view, which extends from Mahia Peninsula to Cape Kidnappers in one direction and the inland ranges stretching towards the Central Plateau in the other.

We then retraced our steps to the DOC sign, which indicates that a loop track would take us to Pohokura Road.

– Heather Whelan

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