Tramping Track – From the parking area at end of an unnamed, short side-road, off Opanuku Road, Ferndown Track crosses the stream, enters regenerating bush and follows the descending ridge to the end of Grassmere Road, 2.2km. (Source).
The very first thing I’ll mention is that if you “randomly” turned up at the end of the aforementioned short side-road off Opanuku you would have NO idea that Ferndown Track was here unless you knew about it and in saying that, I knew it was here somewhere, but I was still at a loss …
So, for all you who come after me here is what you need to do to even start on your journey;
At the very end of the short side road are some wooden bollards and a chain “fence”. Find a car park here (minding the piles of illegally dumped rubbish). Straight ahead you will see a grass clearing (which will be sodden if it’s been raining). Follow the grass clearing down the bank, if you look to your left in about 200m you’ll should be able to spot the well weathered track sign tucked in behind the overgrown scrub.
After a couple of minutes the trail narrows and you’ll see the shoe cleaning station up ahead, a short way past the drain (which you may not notice if it hasn’t been raining, I on the other hand ran it the day after a large storm and actually thought it was a stream).
The trail looks more like a trail from this point and passes the closed Taumata Track 200m from the starting point enroute to the Parekura Stream crossing. Even after a solid few days of torrential rain this stream although fast running was still relatively shallow. There were a few larger rocks that you could probably rock hop across but I didn’t bother and just “ran” through it.
On the other side of the stream you’ll come to a large clearing. You’ll want to head towards the track you can see on the other side and although the grass will probably be reasonably overgrown you should be able to see that the trail doesn’t go in the most direct route. Also be careful there are large pot holes in this section, there may be pipes running along here (and the edges have subsided) so keep an eye on where you place your feet.
From this point it’s approximately 20 minutes (most of it downhill) to reach the end of the trail at Grassmere Road when you reach the stairs that follow a private driveway you are nearly at the end.
The entire length of the trail is pretty run down with numerous trees of varying sizes strewn across the path. One large pile of fallen trees you will need to navigate around but the rest you can either climb over or under .. Also, it’s quite steep in places and the slick clay underfoot isn’t the easiest surface to navigate, but thankfully I had chosen to wear my X-Talons (because I knew it would be extremely wet underfoot) and I gripped the surface of the trail with no problems.
All in all it’s a much nicer trail that you would expect when you turn up to the car parking area on Opunuku Road. I will mention although it’s perhaps an easier run if you start at the top and descend to Grassmere Road, it’s a much nicer drive if you park at on Grassmere Road and run to the top. The only downside to that is there isn’t any real parking on Grassmere Road especially in winter. The only place you could leave your car would be the grass verge in front of the trail entrance and the day I ran the trail it was extremely water sodden .. you probably wouldn’t get the car back out. 😉
The other stuff;
Location – End of random side road (enter Opanuku Bush Road Reserve into your GPS) or 90 Grassmere Road, Waitakere.
Parking – Bigger area at the Opanuku Road end, but it’s pretty desolate (hence the rubbish dumping).
Toilets – No
Kid Friendly – Yeah I guess, nothing jumps out and makes it especially appealing for kids but it’s not technical or long enough to be excluded.
Till next time