The Northland Forests

  • Walking

The Herekino Forest has now closed due to Kauri Dieback - as a result of this we ask that you follow the following suggestion from the boat ramp on Ninety Mile Beach, please follow the Ahipara road to Kaitāia (18km) please be careful on this road. From Kaitāia walkers will need to catch a lift (the road walk is very dangerous as it is state highway 1) to Ruaroa Road (5km). You can then walk up that road to until you come to Takahue Road (6km) and then walk to Takahue (4km) and rejoin the trail. Turn SE on Takahue Saddle Road for 2.5km alongside the Takahue River until the junction with Warner Rd.

Raetea Forest Track - 18km / 9.5hr

From the junction with Warner Rd, follow the old Takahue Saddle Road (just a track now) as it turns away from the River and climbs steeply through farmland for 2km. At the saddle, turn off left/east into the Raetea Forest. It's a rough climb up to the ridge and on to a 580m peak.

No camping on Warner Road beside the river.

There is a small camping area approx 1.5km up the hill that has a good fresh water supply, please note that the water supply after this stop is limited

The Raetea Forest has some of the highest peaks in Northland, so expect cloud and rain. The bush track follows the ridge line on a largely west-east basis past:

  • The 744m Raetea summit 
  • An unnamed highpoint of 727m (past a junction with a track leading north on a route out to SH1)
  • The 638m Kumetewhiwhia summit
  • The 445m Umaumakaroro summit

The track then descends through bush and private farmland to Mākene Rd, Mangamuka. The exit is into the yard of a house - they are used to walkers and happy to have you pass through - a hello and/or thank-you always goes down well. There are a number of working dogs here whose bark is literally worse than their bite. Walk steadily down the driveway and you'll be fine.

Walk northeast to the junction with SH1. From the junction with SH1 & Mākene Rd, keep following SH1 for 6.5km. This takes you through Mangamuka settlement and then south to Mangamuka Bridge. Turn east onto Omahuta Road and walk 5km to the junction with Jacksons Road & Omahuta Forest Roads. (This connection 13km / 3hr)

Omahuta Puketī Forest Track - 30km / 2 days

Warning: Some beehives en route, poison and trapping for possums, rats and mustelids occurs within this forest. Goat control operations using contract hunters also occur within this forest.

For forest hygiene and visitor safety reasons it is requested that in Omahuta and Puketī Forests camping is restricted to the sites recommended by DOC - those being Apple Dam and Puketī Forest HQ (eastern edge of Puketī Forest). These sites have been identified for camping as they are away from kauri therefore reducing the risk of spreading kauri dieback disease and will be poison exclusion zones for possum control operations. Therefore please plan around using only these two sites.

Omahuta Puketī Forest Track - 31km / 2 days 

From the junction, head east on well-formed single track forestry roads (vehicles are rare). 700m up Omahuta Forest Rd, take the left fork onto Kauri Sanctuary Rd. Keep travelling uphill for approx. another 6km past an airstrip on your left and occasional beehives tucked into the forest (just button up and walk gently past). The next major junction is where Kauri Pā Road runs off left. That’s the one to follow. 

Omahuta Puketī Forest Track is a challenging, wet route using river canyons - subject to flash floods. You need good equipment and navigation skills. Only go in dry weather. 

Warning: Some beehives en route. 

Detour to Apple dam campsite: if you want to camp, turn right into Kauri Sanctuary Road for 500m. A grassy 4WD track runs downhill on the left to a modest but pretty campsite with water tank/stream/dam and a long drop toilet. The kauri sanctuary is further down this same road, now closed for Kauri dieback.

Back on route, continue along the well-formed Kauri Pā Road a further 1km, then fork right onto Blackbridge Road (more 4WD track). 

Follow along to cross a concrete ford over a stream (NB: if water is flowing over the top of it, do not proceed as this means water levels in the Mangapukahukahu gorge will be too dangerous). Then climb a further 1.5km until, at the top of the climb, a 4WD track leads left along a soft ridge leading down to Mangapukahukahu Stream. The track is easy to follow down, past two old forestry skid sites. At the second/lower one, a track goes through the pampas grass on the right-hand side. It leads to a rough track (with orange markers) down through trees to the Mangapukahukahu Stream. 

The stream through a gorge and is subject to flash floods in heavy rain.

Do not try to go further if there is heavy rain in the region. Return back to the wet weather bypass around the North of the forest.

As long as the weather is clear, walk SE crisscrossing between shoal banks in the stream for 2.5km until meeting up with the Waipapa River. Immediately south (right) of the junction between Mangapukahukahu and the Waipapa, a track leads up the bank and descends to a shoal where there's a shallow crossing of the main river. 

A short but very muddy climb up the bank meets up with the Lower Waipapa River Track. Recently upgraded, it is well marked. 

Walk 2.5km northeast to the streamside junction with the Pukeatua Ridge Track. (The alternative is to try wading between shoal banks in/out of the Waipapa River but there are some deep sections). 

The Pukatea Ridge Track climbs steeply, (past a small freedom campsite 30m up the track) and then on up steps to the ridge through young kauri for 3.5km to meet the Takapau Track. 

From the junction of Pukatea Ridge and Takapau Tracks, head northeast for 300m to the junction with Walnut Track and Pirau Ridge Road (a well-formed 4WD road). Follow Pirau Ridge Road east for 9 km to the Puketī Forest Headquarters, Waiare Rd. There's a campsite here. Take care on Pirau Ridge Road as vehicles and cyclists also use this road. 

Wet weather bypass option: Continue south (from Omahuta Road turnoff) on SH1 for 22km, turn left into Puketī Road and walk 9km to Waiare Rd, turn left and walk a further 2.5km to rejoin the Te Araroa route onto the Mangakaretu Track (Puketōtara Farm).


Track standard: tramping track

Potential hazards

  • Vehicles on road or track. Take care walking on roads, particularly SH1
  • Poisons and traps
  • Forestry operations. Take care between Diggers Valley Road and Waiotehue Road.
  • River canyons - flash floods. Use bypass in times of heavy rain.
  • River crossings - Never cross flooded rivers.
  • Small stream crossings
  • Weather extremes
  • Few water sources - carry plenty of water, refill whenever you can.
  • Steep drop-offs. Bush track can get muddy and slippery so take care.

How to get here

Northern Start: Boat ramp, Kaka Street, Ahipara

Southern End: Puketī Recreation Centre, Waiare Road

Track Elevation

Map of Track

More information

Northland trail notes, including information about accommodation, transport and resupplying

Mountain Safety Council Plan My Trip
Page last updated: Jan 5, 2021, 11:09 AM