This tramp saw myself and a couple of other women head into the surrounding bush area of Sentinel Rock, which is a large rocky outcrop in the Kaimai Mamaku, Forest Park. It is now considered too dangerous to climb Sentinel rock, so we viewed it from a comfy flattish area where we dined out in the open on the Sentinel Rock Lookout. Dined as in ate our lunch while gazing out towards the vast sweeping paddocks of the Waikato region. There are also views to the Pacific Ocean and other parts of the Bay of Plenty.
Let me start from the beginning.
The track to the lookout starts at the end of Hot Springs Rd, just south of Katikati. The Tuahu Track and Tuahu Kauri Loop Track lead past two of the most massive kauri trees in the Western Bay of Plenty, to the start of the Sentinel Rock Track. This area is the most south this tree with naturally grow.
There is a parking area [175m above sea level] and information panels at the end of Hot Springs Rd, but no toilet facilities. I am sure a composting toilet would be much appreciated to all walkers/trampers that use this area.
The first thing that we needed to do before doing this walk was to disinfect our boots this is an important task to complete if we are to conserve our Kauri population which is in danger of becoming extinct due to Kauri Dieback.
The Tuahu Track continues across the Kaimai Ranges, ending on Wairakau Rd on the western side of the range. On the eastern side of the range the track is wide and well formed, and a good walking track. After an easy walk of about 25 minutes or 1.5km from the start of the Tuahu Track, there is a short loop track.
This is where you get to view the base of the largest of the two kauri trees, 12.8m to the first limb, and a diameter of 2.7m at the height of 1.5m. The trunk is too large to fully hug, though it is still possible to give it a pat. The smaller of the two kauris can be seen to the left. The walkway protects the kauri tree roots from being trampled on this is another added protection in keeping Kauri Dieback at bay. Another feature of this walk is the abundance of Nikau Palms which gives this area a very tropical feel.
From the end of the Kauri walkway, begins the start of the Sentinel Rock Track. It is a long easy climb with a few streams crossings to arrive at the crest of the Kaimai Range. Originally a Maori trail and widened to a bridle path in the late 1890s. Although the climb is 550m, it is mostly a gentle and genial climb that doesn’t seem steep. Until of course, you finish the tramp, then the result of a few hours tramping start to take effect.
As I previously mentioned the views are well worth the physical effort.
What goes up must come down, that, of course, meant leaving this glorious view and to capture those bush views that we may have missed hiking upwards.
Footnote: We just happened to have done this walk twice, the second visit was on the 21st March and International Day of Forests.
Every year the United Nations raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. This year the International Day of Forests promotes education to Learn to Love Forests. It underscores the importance of education at all levels in achieving sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation. Healthy forests mean healthy, resilient communities and prosperous economies. Forests will be more important than ever as the world population climbs to 8.5 billion by 2030.