GETTING TO KNOW
THE TANEKAHA TRACKS
The Tanekaha Tracks complex (Figures 1 & 2) on the south side of the Brynderwyn Hills is one of the premier walking destinations in the North Island. Largely on public land, these spectacular walks have been developed by local volunteers and vary from ridge walks, to stream sides and waterfalls, to spectacular forest.
Currently four tracks make up a series of loops all beginning and ending at the King Road car park, giving flexibility regarding length and difficulty. After crossing a short section of private land the tracks enter Department of Conservation reserve and Council controlled unformed public roads.
Tanekaha Falls Track
Also beginning at the little swing bridge, the Tanekaha Falls Track follows the true right bank of the stream, with just a few short climbs and one stream crossing, to the first waterfall . Three seats are provided at rest areas along the way with the track passing through mixed kanuka/tanekaha forest with groves of tree ferns and nikau palms. The first waterfall tumbles into a nice swimming hole with the track crossing below, followed by a steep climb up the bank before proceeding at an easy grade to the second fall. Several stream crossings requiring some care (a walking pole will help) occuring between the first waterfall and the Langsview Track junction.
Beyond the second waterfall the track becomes more demanding with some steep climbs and decents, which although stepped require good fitness and agility. The hard work is compensated by a beautiful pooling stream and some outstanding views of multiple waterfalls. A highlight of the track is the remains of a kauri dam at about ¾ of the way, where an information board explains how the remnant base logs relate to the dam’s past structure and operation.
A little beyond the kauri dam the track leaves the stream and climbs a short spur onto a ridge. At the point where the tracks leaves the ridge a large northern rata (Metrosideros robusta), an uncommon species in the reserve, extends horizontally into space. The track decends back to the stream crossing and following the true left bank up stream. At the point it heads up the steep final climb, a signposted short side track up stream leads to a further waterfall and rest area with a seat. The final climb is steep and quite long before a short decent to the Langsview Track junction.
Tanekaha Forest Track
The Forest Track begins just beyond the little swing bridge, crossing a small stream before climbing up onto the ridge it follows to the trig point on the Brynderwyn crest. Much of the area the track passes through was subject to firewood harvesting a few decades ago and is essentially a regenerating forest of kanuka (Kunzea ericoides) and tanekaha (Phyllocladus trichomanoides).
The young tanekaha stands, for which the track complex is named, cloth the lower slopes of the ridge, favouring these drier conditions. A podocarp, related to rimu and kahikatea, tanekaha is unusual in that what appear as leaves are in fact flattened stems, the shape of which give the common name of cerlery pine. The wood is regarded as the strongest and most flexible of our native softwoods and was favoured by Maori for koi koi or double pointed spears. The bark, high in tannin, has been used for tanning leather and for dye.
Both below and above the tanekaha zone the forest is dominated by kanuka, with some very large specimens along the upper section. This pioneer species clothe much of the southern side of the Brynderwyn hills which have been subject to considerable disturbance in the past, in particular kauri extraction. Occasional puriri (Vitex lucens), and rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum) occur along the track which also passes through Nikau palm (Rhopalostylis sapida) groves. Regeneration of kauri (Agathis australis) tanekaha, and maire (Nestegis lanceolate) is common throughout the area.
A little over halfway to the trig a view point with a seat looks across the Mangawhai hinterland to the big sand dune with a reverse view into the valley of the Tanekaha Falls Track. The tracks ends at the trig point in open grassland with extensive coastal views.
The Langsview Track links the Falls and Forest Tracks along the Bryndewyn crest, following what was previously known as the Brynderwyn Walkway (Figure 2). The junction with the Falls Track can be accessed from Cullen Rd, a long gravel road which begins just north of Waipu Cove on the north side of the Brynderwyns. The Langsview Track actually leaves the Walkway just short of the trig at the top of the Forest Track.
The track rises and falls along the Brynderwyn crest with some steep sections which have been stepped. The forest is almost continuous regrowth kanuka with only limited views along most of its length. Towards the Forest Track end a lookout has been established with a seat, and provides a spectacular view across the Mangawhai hinterland. A kissing gate has been constructed where the Langsview track departs from the ridge and heads down to Cove Road, but walkers seeking the Forest Track should not pass through it but follow the signs straight ahead.
Tanekaha Puriri Track
The Tanekaha Puriri Track departs the Falls Track just before the first waterfall (Figure 2). Rather than following the main stream, the track branches up a side stream before climbing steeply to follow a contour high above the main valley. It eventually rejoins the Falls Track a short distance before the kauri dam. This track can be walked as an alternative to the Falls Track on the way to the Langsview Track, or be walked as a loop to visit the kauri dam, returning via the Falls Track. While there is a steep climb past the first puriri tree, much of the track follows the contour with only short climbs and decents, and is generally an easier walk than the Falls Track.
The Tanekaha Puriri Track passes through groves of spectacular forest which include two huge puriri trees, one of which exceeds the largest currently recorded in New Zealand, and both are believed to be over 1000 years old. These native hardwoods make a valuable contribution to the food of fruit eating birds, in particular kereru, flowering and fruiting all year round. A grove of young kauri trees is a reminder of the importance of this species to the history of the area which was extensively logged in the 1800s. The track also provides distant views of the waterfalls.
A brand new track linking the Falls and Forest Tracks and roughly following the 100m contour, it joins the Falls Track just above the first waterfall and the Forest Track just above the Tanekaha Grove. The track rises and falls passing over ridges and entering deep valleys, crossing small streams and passing through groves of mature native trees. The main species of tree are identified and some basic information provided. A delightful bush walk loop can be enjoyed by beginning at the swing bridge going up the Falls Track, along the new Botanical Track and back down the Forest Track for a 3 hour grade 3 walk. Much easier and more interesting than the longer Falls/Lang’s View/Forest loop.