Mt Pirongia is a landmark in the Waikato region, just 25 kms from Hamilton. It stands proudly with its bush clad slopes rising from the surrounding farmland, it is one of the largest native bush areas left in the Waikato.
It has been on my list to visit for many years, and today was the day. There are a variety of walks from one hour to 11 hours – there is a hut near the top for those who are more tramping focused than I am these days.
Today we are doing Pirongia’s Mangakara Nature Walk – one hour return, which is about right for what we have to fit in this weekend. The dog is not allowed, but there is a shady park for the car, so she is Ok for an hour.
This is an easy well formed track, with a few stairs on the steeper sections. Well maintained too – there are signs that some trimming and weeding has been done recently along the track.
Major tree species are identified with labels, and there are some funky sign boards along the way to get you thinking and engaged with what ishappening in the bush. A stream is crossed a few times which adds interest, and birds are audible above us. This would be a great walk for the family.
My strongest feeling was how awesome it was to be one minute out in cleared farmland, then a carpark and into some spectacular native bush. The most awesome sight is a giant Rimu which the pathway is build right up to, so you can hug it safely, without disturbing the forest floor. But there were some really large Kahikatea, Kohekohe, Miro, Rata…
There is something about being in bush like this – the awesome recognition that at one time, this was all there was in Aotearoa.
After our walk, it felt like time for coffee and Lunch, and we drove onto the village of Pirongia which has some lovely looking cafés. We go back to a familiar one – the Persimmon Tree Cafe and have a great lunch.
We also meet a dog who has been travelling with his owner on a motorbike for nearly 50,000 kms – had a custombuilt seat and seatbelt. The Cafe also has an RV camp, so a great base for holiday homes on wheels to stop and enjoy some tramping and walking in the area.
Before you leave Persimmon Cafe – walk 100 metres down Redoubt Road to the Alexandra Redoubt, managed by the NZ Historic Places Trust. Here on the site of an old church, on a raised piece of land, was built this redoubt as a defence and a place of refuge for local families during the Land Wars.
- Next time I think we will cycle the Nikau track on Mt Pirongia
More information: Department of Conservation