The trail from Link Road is the easiest way to access the summit of Mt Pureora and to gain exceptional views of the Waikato and Central Plateau. By Athena Rhodes
The walk starts opposite a small roadside car park on Link Road. The trail is gravel but parts are overgrown with tree roots and forest litter – it gives an impression of a more wild track. The first hour or so is a relatively gentle incline with several flights of stairs to ascend.
Pureora Forest is one of New Zealand’s oldest forests. There is a variety of unique flora and fauna at the trackside to observe, from lush ferns to rimu towering high above. Tūī and kererū zoom through the bush.
The track leads south for the first 500m, gently ascending the mountain before turning east to gradually climb to the 900m contour. Here, you may come across the iconic werewere kokako, the blue mushroom illustrated on the New Zealand $50 note. They are quite small, but the distinctive bright blue hues are relatively easy to spot in the undergrowth.
From here, the track heads south into a gully where Waipohotu Stream is crossed on raised boardwalks. It’s steeper now and near the summit, the path is almost entirely a narrow boardwalk, built to protect the area’s sensitive volcanic ecosystem. Stairs are more frequent on this final 200m.
Just before the summit trig at 1265m, the forest is left behind and the views from here can be amazing. To the east is the Kaimai-Mamaku Range and to the south Lake Taupō and Mt Ruapehu. Below is Pureora Forest, loud with birdsong and tall with native trees, some thousands of years old. An alternative route for descent is via the Toitoi Track which meets up with the Timber Trail, but prior transport will need to be arranged.