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AucklandCedarchick wrote a review 19 Jan
Auckland, New Zealand97 contributions15 helpful votes
+1
Just walked from Windy Canyon to Mt Hobson then down via Kaitoke hot springs and out at Whangaparapara Rd in 1 Day. Note that there are literally thousands of steps up and down which makes for a tough long day. The views from the top are great down to Tryphena Harbour and the regenerating native bush is still on the small side after all the giant kauris been milled in previous generations. Hot Springs were a real treat on way out from walk. Having never had issues with knees before I found this walk very tough and didn't enjoy so many stairs and found it tougher than any of the NZ Great Walks and Tongariro Crossing. The joy was having very few other people on the track other than our own group. Think it would have been better to have done this over 2 days or do a return trip from Windy Canyon to Mt Hobson and return and do a day walk into the Kaitohe hot springs that are only 45mins in from Whangaparapara Rd entry.
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Date of experience: January 2021
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Rachael E wrote a review 8 Jan
New Zealand26 contributions28 helpful votes
I walked this in late December 2020. I walked from Whangaparapara Rd (Hot Springs entrance) to Kaiaraara Hut for the first night, then walked the South Fork Track to Mt Heale Hut, then walked out via Windy Canyon. We were dropped off at the Hot Springs entrance by mistake (one of our group told the shuttle driver we were walking to the wrong hut...) and it ended up being an incredibly long and draining first day (7+ hours). When we arrived at Kaiaraara Hut we dropped off our bags / claimed bunks, and then walked to Bush's Beach - about a 20 minute walk, but so worth it for the sun and a cool swim after a long days of walking. The next two days were comparatively short, only 3-4 hours of walking on day 2 and 3. Day 2 via South Fork had some pleasant meandering along a riverbank (fording the stream several times) and then some demanding climbing to get to Mt Heale Hut, but the views there were breathtaking (especially the sunset). Since we got to the hut by about 2pm, we also decided to climb to the summit of Mt Hobson for an afternoon view - absolutely stunning, do not miss this lookout point! But it is over 1,000 stairs to get to the top, and you have to climb them again in the morning since the track then goes up and over Mt Hobson anyway. The wind at Mt Heale was extremely cold so highly recommend you take warm layers even in summer. The walk out via Windy Canyon was a treat, there was undulating terrain which was tiring, but the traverse over hills and hills of flowering manuka covered in bees was so beautiful. I would say that the hut facilities were a bit dirtier than any other Great Walk I've done. In particular the toilets at Mt Heale were so disgusting as to almost be a health hazard - lifting the lid of an almost-full long drop only to have 30 mosquitos fly straight out at me will be an unfortunately permanent memory. There were also smears of bodily substances on the walls... I think it clearly needs to be better resourced in the busy summer months. Other than the toilets, the kitchen and bunk rooms were a bit dusty / generally mucky, but there were plenty of pots and pans and were otherwise fine. Overall the walk was thoroughly worth doing, some of the climbs were demanding but the views were spectacular.
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Date of experience: December 2020
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Ingrid V wrote a review Oct 2020
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand10 contributions1 helpful vote
Great overnight tramping. Left from Forest Road entrance and ended in Kaitoke Hot Springs. We stayed overnight at the Kaiaraara Hut. A lot of steps up and down to Mt Heale but well worth it. If I did it over three days (two nights) would go to Mt Heale Hut (explore Windy canyon without a pack) then to Kaiaraara Hut (either explore the area going to Fitzroy- without a pack) to Great Barrier Lodge (make sure you refresh yourself by the waterfall on the way, a cool dip)
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Date of experience: October 2020
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Brad wrote a review Jun 2020
13 contributions
+1
I did a variation of the Aotea Track at the end of May 2020. Stayed at the Great Barrier Lodge (highly recommended) at the start and end of the track. I highly recommend bringing along your hiking poles. It was pretty wet when I went, but it is pretty slippery clay so probably good to have them any time of the year. Entered near Green Campsite and did the Whitey Track (lots of ups and downs). Then joined the Forest Road towards Port Fitzroy. Turned off onto the South Fork Track. There had been a lot of rainfall when I went and I had to walk across the river about 7 times getting my boots nice and wet. So if you want to keep your feet dry do not go this way! The markers are a bit hard to find when you are walking in the river. Took about two hours as stated to get to Mt Heale Hut (I used to be pretty fast). Total time on the track walking about 6 hours. Great views at Mt Heale Hut. Propane burners provided but NO stove for heat. Nice new hut. On the second day walked down to the hot springs which were fab and then out to the road where I successfully hitch hiked back to the lodge. Great trip! Will do it again!
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Date of experience: May 2020
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Christine P wrote a review Mar 2019
Sorrento, Australia66 contributions4 helpful votes
+1
Our decision to tramp the circuit ending with a relaxing bath in Kaitoke Hot Springs held us in good stead. This track has an incredible amount of steps it was tough but extremely rewarding. Suspension bridges, spectacular views and stairs lol. The huts were extremely well appointed clean and positioned in stunning locations. I would highly recommend this tramp/hike. The flight in with @flymysky was breathtaking re-enforcing my love affair with New Zealand
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Date of experience: March 2019
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