Okere Falls

Okere Falls Scenic Reserve is located off SH33 about 20 kms north of Rotorua, and accessed from Trout Pool Road in the small village of Okere Falls. The flow of the Okere River, also known as the Kaituna River, through the scenic reserve is regulated by control gates adjacent to SH33. The first kilometre or so of the river is well known and much used for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Several companies run rafting trips down the river, starting at the control gates and ending at the Trout Pools.

Parking is available alongside SH33, and at parking areas by Trout Pool Road and at the northern end of Trout Pool Road, where there are also toilets and picnic areas. The well formed and easy walkway runs between the two parking areas, with side tracks to lookouts by Okere Falls and Tutea Falls. There are no steps on the main track, but numerous steps on the side tracks to the falls lookouts. Information about the walk and the reserve can be found on the DoC web site.

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McLaren Falls Park – Lakeside and Waterfall tracks

McLaren Falls Park is accessible from McLaren Falls Road, which branches off State Highway 29 about 19 km south-west of Tauranga. There are numerous walking tracks within the boundaries of the park, with most of them providing easy walks on well-formed and wide tracks. The Lakeside Walkway runs almost the full length of the eastern side of Lake McLaren, from the road entry off McLaren Falls Road almost to the access road to the Lower Mangapapa power station. The Waterfall Track branches off the Lakeside Walkway, crosses over the road and then loops alongside a stream on the way to and from the small waterfall.

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McLaren Falls Park – Rimu Track

McLaren Falls Park is accessible from McLaren Falls Road, which branches off State Highway 29 about 19 km south-west of Tauranga. There are numerous walking tracks within the boundaries of the park, with most of them providing easy walks on well-formed and wide tracks. The southernmost track and also the steepest is the Rimu Track, also known as Rimu-Totara Track, which is directly accessible from the road through the park, by the junction with a short road past a substation to Lake Mangapapa. The side road has a closed gate, with public access for walkers only.

The Rimu Track is short, but quite steep in places, and with numerous steps. It climbs from the road junction through a valley to a plateau with an easy loop track, and a side track down past 3 large rimu trees (The 3 Sisters) to the road leading to Lake Mangapapa. The road can then be followed back to the junction, or a side road and track can be taken back up to the Rimu Track.

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Putauaki (Mt Edgecumbe), Kawerau King of the Mountain race

Putauaki (Mt Edgecumbe) towers 820 metres above the township of Kawerau at the southern end of the Rangitaiki Plains. The town was built in the early 1950s for to support the new pulp and paper mill being constructed at the same time. The Kawerau King of the Mountain race, a race from the town to near the summit of Putauaki and back, has been held every year since 1955. Information about the race, with entry forms and race results can be found on the Kawerau King of the Mountain web site.

Access to the mountain is now controlled, and a permit is required to climb the mountain. Due to safety concerns it is necessary to climb in groups of at least 4 people, and the office issuing the permits is only open on weekdays. See the Kawerau Online web site for more details of the mountain and the procedure required to obtain a permit.

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Ruahihi Canal walkway/cycleway

Ruahihi Canal was constructed in the late 1970s and early 1980s to lead water from Lake McLaren and the Wairoa River to the Ruahihi Power Station adjacent to SH29. The canal is about 2.5 km long, with water then being fed into penstocks for the final part of the journey to the power station. The penstocks are mainly underground, but the single penstock pipe can be followed from the end of the canal as far as Gunga Lane and Ruahihi Road. At some point the single pipe is split into the two which can be seen alongside SH29, across the road from the power station.

On most days the Wairoa River from McLaren Falls to the power station is only a trickle, but on some weekends the control gates are opened and the river returns to a normal level during the day. The river is popular for white water rafting.

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Omokoroa Peninsula

There are several walks on the Omokoroa Peninsula, with the most popular being a short walk from the Domain, through the Gerald Crapp Historic Reserve and past the Wai-Huri Pa site, to Bramley drive. A much longer walk of about 9 km continues from Bramley Drive and along Hamurana Road to a coastal walk alongside the Omokoroa Golf Course, across the peninsula to the the Cooney Reserve and heading back along the waterfront to the Domain. The coastal walk alongside the golf course is not passable at high tide, but there is an alternative track along the northern and eastern side of the golf course.

The longer walk is not particularly well marked, especially around the golf course. No markers show where to leave the waterfront and head alongside the golf course up to Kayelene Place. The walks are described in a booklet available for download from the Western Bay of Plenty District Council web site.

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Waihi to Waikino loop – rail and walk/cycle

Until the original Martha gold mine in Waihi closed in the early 1950s the ore was transported by rail to Victoria Battery at Waikino in the Karangahake Gorge. This rail line ran alongside the left bank (southern side) of the Ohinemuri River. Part of the Hauraki Rail Trail now follows the route taken by this railway line. On the right bank of Ohinemuri River the New Zealand Rail railway line between Waihi and Paeroa followed alongside State Highway 2. The railway line was closed when the Kaimai Rail Tunnel was completed, but the line between Waihi and Waikino is now used by the Goldfields Historic Railway to carry passengers on the 30-minute journey between the two end points.

Goldfields Railway will also transport bicycles, so it is possible to take the train in one direction, and then walk or cycle in the other direction. Here the rail journey was taken from Waihi to Waikino and the walk done on the Hauraki Rail Trail cycleway/walkway from Waikino back to Waihi.

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Waiorongomai Pylon Peak Track

The Pylon Peak Track in the Waiorongomai Valley was opened up in 2015 and currently does not appear on the DoC web site or signs in the area. The track branches off the Low Level Pack (or Low Level Drive) Track near the end of Waiorongomai Road, crosses the Waiorongomai River, climbs to a ridgeline which it follows before climbing quite steeply to the Pylon Peak and joining up with the Kaimai Ridgeway Track (formerly the North-South Track).

There are still a few remains of the steel power pylons which were used for the power line linking the Horahora hydro-electric power station with the Waihi gold mine and Victoria Battery in the Karangahake Gorge. The power station was the first large power station on the Waikato River and on the North Island, built in 1913 and commissioned in 1914. The power station was sold to the Government in 1920, expanded, supplying power to Paeroa and further afield to Cambridge, Hamilton and Auckland, before being submerged by Lake Karapiro after the Karapiro Dam was completed in 1948.

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Broken Hills, Hikuai

Broken Hills at Hikuai was a gold mining area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The mining settlement of Puketui alongside the Tairua River had about 200 residents by 1912, but production at the mines declined shortly afterwards, and only small-scale mining continued until 1923. A permanent settlement at the current DoC campsite at the end of Puketui Valley Road was planned but not built due to the decline in gold production. There are only a few relics left from the mining days, and no remains of the settlement.

The walkways in the Broken Hills Gorge can be accessed from either Puketui Valley Road or Puketui Road. There is no road connection between these two, and the Third Branch Stream must be crossed for all access from the end of Puketui Road. This stream can be fast flowing and difficult to cross with dry feet.

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Tauranga / Historical Inner City + Waikareao

Several historical sites are easily accessible in the Tauranga City Centre, and a loop walk around the city can include those sites as well as other points of interest. A booklet published by Tauranga City Council previously described the walk as “Tauranga / Historical Inner City”. In later editions, as well as the online edition, it does not show the loop walk, and calls it Tauranga/CBD.

The historical sites are The Elms Mission house in Mission Street, Mission Cemetery, Monmouth Redoubt, Te Awanui Waka, and Wharepai Domain. Other points of interest include the Rose Gardens, Robbins Park, The Strand reclamation, and the Hairy Maclary sculptures.

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