Hiking the Henderson Tramline Loop

Haere Mai, Welcome.

To the Henderson Tramline Loop in the Kaimai Ranges a short distance south of Tauranga, and just off SH29.  It was a hike which I enjoyed participating in a few months ago.

Unfortunately, there are no expansive views from this track, which starts on Old Kaimai Rd. Large parts of the trail follow the Henderson Tramline Western Branch and Northern Branch. These tramlines were constructed to transport logs when the forest was milled. None of the rails has survived, though it was fun to find remains of the tramline sleepers in several places.

Parking is available on Old Kaimai Rd at both ends of the track.

The Start

Again no “Smiley Face Places” as in toilet facilities at the carpark or near the track.

We start off walking up a gentle slope, and straight away, we are being engulfed by the bush canopy.

The Tramline sleepers

Large parts of the track follow the tramlines, and there are long straight stretches surrounded by regrowth forest.  There is an abundance of moss, trackside as well as growing on the trunks of trees and also hanging off them too, giving off that wonderful goblin forest vibe.

The gradient is hard in parts with a good mixture of more accessible gradient paths and has plenty of flat bits on which there are still some of the wooden sleepers remaining across the track from when it was used as a tramline. In parts, there is a carpet of small thin brown leaves underfoot adding to the good vibes.


The tracks are generally well marked with small arrows nailed to trees along the way. Though some are hidden by vegetation and accompanied by fungi growing on the underside of the tree trunk.

The beautiful moss covered trees

Not only do hikers use this part of the Kaimais, but it was also well set up for hunters, as you can tell by the decorated hut.

Hurunui Hut

The Hurunui hut is located at the top of the ridge and is on a reasonably large area of a flattish area which was surrounded by bush.  This was where we enjoyed eating our lunch, serenaded by native birds and perhaps for some of us resting our sore bodies.  Or was that just me?


Next came the descend downwards and the location again of several of stream crossings along the tracks.  The track crosses two large tributaries of the Rataroa Stream before reaching the Old Kaimai Road. There are no longer any bridges.

Fortunately, there had not been any heavy rain recently. The more experienced hikers in our group commented on more than one occasion about how dry the streams were for this time of year.  When the river is in flood, it would be almost impossible to cross safely, so I for one for happy to see the lack of water for selfish reasons.  As my attempts at river crossings are very ungainly.

There ends another hike which we calculated to be around 18kms taking approximately 4 hours.

As most of my hiking is within the Kaimai Ranges, the following is a couple of snippets of history about the area.

Maori History

The Kaimai Ranges feature in local Maori folklore. The name Te Aroha [a town as well as a mountain] translates from Maori as Te – The & Aroha – Love. Literally “the love”. The name comes from a Maori legend that the sun god – Male, loved the moon goddess – female. They never could see each another due to the positions of the planets. One day the moon goddess came to earth to see the sun god, knowing the risks, was turned to stone as the daylight came. Hers was the ultimate expression of love. Te Aroha in Maori. This is why on the Kaimai Range, to the right of Mt Te Aroha is a high skyline silhouetted rock that from afar is shaped like a woman. It is known locally as the rock of Hinemoa.

European History

The southern Mangatotara Forest was logged from 1936 by the Henderson Timber Company. Podocarp and hardwood species were extracted using the bush tramline in evidence today. Hauliers were later replaced by tractors, which were used to pull the logs on trucks.

The rimu extracted grew at altitude and was noted as being of high quality, especially useful for building and furniture. The mill closed in 1957 when all available resources had been used up.

Interestingly I have noticed many hikers do acknowledge the history, the birdlife, native flora and fauna that surrounds us while we walk.  Certainly makes me feel more in tune with my surroundings and I learn something new, enjoy what we find as well as get fitter.

A win-win situation.

Hiking Henderson Tramline Loop


Check out walks from all over our wonderful world via Jo’s Monday Walk


44 thoughts on “Hiking the Henderson Tramline Loop”

  1. As many have said, I love the ‘Goblin forest vibe’ on this walk! I do enjoy your walks as I have never been in your ‘neck of the woods’, so it’s lovely to read about them and see the photo’s. It just looks amazing, I can almost smell the forest. I am one of those who is fascinated by the history of where I am walking, I love to visualise the people, animals etc who would have walked before us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sam, visualising what went before me while walking around the villages in the UK and Europe was one of my favourite past times. Usually being lead by a dog or two. It’s fun finding bits of history to tag onto my walks. Pleased you are enjoying the hikes with me 🙂


  2. I love how the jungle is reclaiming itself. But I was very surprised to see a hunter’s blind so close to a hiking trail. Are hikers forbidden to hike there during hunting season?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this blog post. It brought not just the memories of the sights, but the scents and noises too, of our own forays into the NZ Bush when we visited. You’ve hooked me as a regular follower now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It looks lovely Suzanne – and 4 hours is quite challenging without being too daunting. I love how these old tram and rail lines are being upcycled into something special and not completely lost.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leanne, yes four hours is a good amount of time and I always return home feeling like I’ve achieved something and conquered yet another part of the Kaimais. Love learning about our local history while out hiking. Thanks for commenting.


  5. So many great tracks in NZ to tramp – I’ve done two of the great walks on the South Island but although I’ve visited the North Island on a number of occasions haven’t done any tramping there. I certainly haven’t heard of this one. As an aside, I am shockingly ungainly at water crossings & the sight of rocks that I might have to hop over on fill me with absolute panic.#MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This place looks beautiful and exotic to me. Being from the US, the Maori are just a not in the history books. I do like those old legends and myths. I love seeing pictures from NZ. I’ve never been there, but my husband wants to go when he retires. It’s on our list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michelle, great to hear visiting New Zealand is on your list. I think learning about the indigenous culture of all countries is a must as it gives a true picture than hearing one side. We are fortunate in that learning about the Maori culture is easy to access here in New Zealand.


  7. Hi Suzanne I love the lush bushland and NZ is perfect for hiking. I would love to do more trial hiking but don’t have anyone to do it with at the moment. I did a 4 day walk through the Blue Mountains about 15 years ago and it was stunning but challenging. Thanks for sharing your beautiful country with us at #MLSTL and I can imagine just being there with you. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sue, it is a bit harder to organise when your partner isn’t able to join in, I am in the same position. I have joined a tramping/hiking club which gives me access to all these wonderful places and opportunities to meet new people and chat. Many are over 65 and certainly much fitter than I. I would love to do a hike in the Blue Mountains!!


  8. I love the phrase ‘wonderful goblin forest vibe’, it looks a beautiful hike and full of history Suz. Your walks are always a delight! We’re currently riding old rail trails in Queensland and enjoying the warm weather vibe up here! Have pinned for #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You must be getting in good shape, Suzanne. What a wonderful area to hike. I’m not a fan of river crossings either. We recently did a hike in Colorado, where logs over a madly rushing river had to be navigated in order to pick up the path on the other side. Not too big of a deal, but for some reason, this kind of thing freaks me out. Barely anything else does.

    I think the fear stems from a multiple-day jungle trip I did when I was 24 and where we had to cross narrow logs, meters above the river, with our packs. Those were scary times!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am reasonably fit Liesbet though at the moment rather erratic in my regime! Hikes around Colorado and a jungle would be mind expanding, the open spaces would be incredible. Those crossings would have been very scary, mine were very subdued in comparison 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Seems to me you’re pretty fit already, Suzanne 🙂 🙂 I do a very convincing ungainly too when it comes to crossing water. I’m told I need walking poles. Or swimming poles? 🙂 Thanks a lot for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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