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November 2012 Issue
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Upgrade improves waterfall track

The waterfall is about 15 minutes from the car park.
From the car park on SH1, 8.5km north of the Puhoi turn-off.
Beverley Price Loop, Pohuehue Reserve, Auckland

On my frequent journeys north I have always sped past Pohuehue Viaduct, keen to get to my destination. However, the lure of native bush and a steep-sided valley with a waterfall feature has always held intrigue. Perhaps this is a good spot to stretch the legs for those on a long drive north or south?

A 45-minute drive north of Auckland had me pulling into the car park, near a van selling gourmet burgers and coffee. It was still too early for food, so I headed to the track start and was greeted with a DOC sign informing me the track was closed while it was being upgrading. I hadn’t come all this way to be turned around at the final hurdle, though, so I strode on.

The track drops steeply from the road to Pohuehue Stream. The stream is shallow but wide enough to warrant a bridge and is surrounded by native bush which lets the odd bit of sunshine through to make this a peaceful setting just a few minutes’ walk from the growling engines that can still be heard speeding along State Highway One.

I headed south along the Beverley Price Loop Track towards a waterfall which is the walk’s main attraction. The track is well graded and in excellent condition for the first few hundred metres and I soon learn why as I come across two DOC rangers shovelling gravel. They have been working on the track for two weeks and have another few weeks of track building ahead of them. They have done an excellent job of creating a family-friendly walkway of an easy gradient. They warn me the track ahead is not in such good condition, though.

A bend or two in the track later I see what they mean. The track suddenly deteriorates into a muddy quagmire that requires careful foot placement and a decent pair of boots – low-cut hikers with soft soles won’t do it here. The DOC rangers told me I was the third person they had seen in the two weeks they had been working on the track, and I can understand why: not many people would want to stop their journey to walk such a rough track which isn’t suitable for children and will only end in mud-caked clothing and car seats.

The track upgrades will eliminate these muddy sections and hopefully make this first part of the Beverley Price Loop, to the waterfall, more popular.

Soon enough I’m at the waterfall where two water fowl are surprised into a somewhat panicked retreat further upstream beneath overhanging ferns before I get a chance to identify them.

I spend a few minutes on the observation platform taking photos and admiring the view of lush green native bush. Once the track upgrades have been completed (around November), this will be a worthy diversion from the road.

The Beverley Price Loop continues uphill and passes through more dense and mature forest. There are windfalls to negotiate and with the track resembling a route it takes on an altogether more remote and adventurous feel than you would expect.

After about an hour the track emerges from the bush onto a forestry road for about one kilometre until it re-enters the bush, though this time through pines. With a thick bed of pine needles the track now offers a new challenge and I struggle to stay upright on the slippery surface. However, the track here is much drier, so at least there’s no mud to contend with.

I’m soon back at the bridge and across Pohuehue Stream, from where it’s a minute or two walk back to the car park. I brought a packed lunch but couldn’t resist trying a gourmet beef burger with chips from the food van. The food is fantastic, but the coffee I washed it down with was terrible.

All in all, I was pleased to have explored this area. If you’re heading north of Auckland this summer and need a break from the drive, this loop track is a worthy diversion.