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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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