This loop track is another favourite of mine, the landscape changes along the way and the wetlands are filled with interesting birds. It takes about 3-4 hours including stops to admire the west coast views. The waterfall is near the car park and only takes a few minutes to reach. It’s definitely worth seeing but I like to leave it for the end of my hike.
Track details below.
The track starts at the Karekare car park and I suggest starting early, every time I’ve returned from this hike the carpark is full and people are waiting for others to leave. Early is 8-9am, any later and you’ll be looking for parks.
Zion Hill is a steady climb with some fantastic views. Keep an eye out for a well-worn track on the right half way up, there is a seat overlooking the coast.
Every now and then you’ll spot more well-worn tracks, check them out because often they will lead to something interesting. The picture above shows the view out to Whatipu and the Pararaha Wetlands, the little hill on the flats is where I’m heading.
At Mt Zion Junction, you can turn left onto Zion Ridge Track. This will take you to Buck Taylor Track and loop back up with this track or if you want a big hike then I suggest going Zion Ridge Track, Odlin Timber Track and Walker Ridge Track. This time, I continue along Zion Hill Track.
It’s a nice walk along Zion Hill Track, muddy but that’s just part of hiking. In the summer this track is mostly dry. There are views along the way and different types of bush to walk through.
There is one stream crossing and although it rains a lot I’ve never had trouble getting across. When reaching Buck Taylor track, I turned right down onto a short steep decent but nothing too difficult. This will take you to the Wetlands.
I find this area really interesting, I’ve seen so many different birds here and I’m trying to figure out who’s who. Every time I wished I’d taken a bird book. At the junction you can continue along the track to the shelter further up, approx 10mins. I turn right and head out along the wetlands to my favourite spot on this track.
If you lie here and observe, you’ll see many birds swim/fly past. Its nice and warm and comfy right here. I’m just off the track a bit so no one ever know’s I’m sitting here.
After I ponder some thoughts I head off along the sand dunes. It takes about 10mins to reach the next interesting stop. Tunnel Point Campsite.
It’s a nice campsite within easy walking distance from Karekare car park. Maximum people up to 20 and to you can stay for 7 days if you wanted to. It cost $8 a night, it has a toilet, a picnic table and it’s sheltered. It’s also on the main Hillary Trail so I guess it could get quiet busy at peak times.
From here you follow the old tramway tunnel and track back to the sand dunes.
Follow the hillside and turn off along Pohutukawa track until you reach the tar-sealed road, turn right and follow the sign to the waterfall.
The Karekare waterfall is only a couple of minutes along the track, there are other little waterfalls to explore but this one is the most impressive. The area is popular in the summer and great for swimming in.
Overall: An easy hike with many views along the way.
Time: 3-4hrs including stops
View Ranger Download: http://my.viewranger.com/route/details/MTU0NjM4Ng==
Other tracks in this area: