Tramping Track – The Montana Heritage Trail in the Waitakere Ranges provides access to the largest remaining stand of mature kauri trees in the Auckland region. You’ll need a picnic and plenty of water if you are going to walk the full 8km of the Montana Heritage Trail. The trail is the result of a partnership between the Auckland Council and Montana Wines Limited. Several existing tracks in the area known as Cascade Kauri have been upgraded and linked to form this loop trail that is fast becoming an iconic Waitakere Ranges walk. Enjoy a quiet time in ancient and regenerating forest, a hidden cascading waterfall, spectacular views, bountiful birdlife, some special picnic spots and interpretive panels for more information on the trail along the way. 8.0km. (Source).
The Montana Heritage Trail;
(Distance) – 8-9km
Although all the “official guff” I’ve seen on the Montana Heritage Trail (which incidentally has never included a decent map or route description) has it listed as 8km, I’ve never had a GPS device measure it as such. It’s always been a greater distance.
(Route) – Auckland City Walk, Fence Line Track, Long Road Track, Upper Kauri Track, Auckland City Walk
I’ll outline the route that I think is the easiest, this is mostly due to the fact that the Fence Line Track has a tonne of stairs and I find it easier to ascend stairs than to descend them, if you are not fussed feel free to do the course in the opposite direction.
Start at the top entrance of the Auckland City Walk. This entrance is located opposite the first small car parking bay you’ll pass when you head towards the main car park at the end of Falls Road.
From here, head through the shoe cleaning station past the large Kauri tree directly in front of you and veer left to stay on the trail. The first section undulates gently until reaching the large boardwalk section (complete with picnic table).
From here the Auckland City Walk descends all the way down to the bridge. Continue along the Auckland City Walk, head pass Anderson Track (the one with the log across the entrance) and take the next left onto the Fence Line Track. You can’t miss it, there is a large map at the entrance opposite a random bench seat. The first section of Fence Line is usually boggy underfoot regardless of the season, but you’ll miss the bog as soon as you hit the stairs. 😉
Continue on the Fence Line track passing the Cascade Track on your way to reach the clearing near the Waitakere Dam. If needed there are toilet facilities on the other side of the dam, to reach them veer left and follow the Waitakere Dam Walk signs to head across the top of the dam, if you don’t need to stop veer right and continue along Fence Line Track. You’ll follow the drive way around the water reservoir before heading back into the bush.
This section of Fence Line is steep, has no stairs and tends to be muddy especially in winter. Continue along Fence Line to it’s completion at the junction of Ridge & Long Roads.
From here, turn right and follow Long Road which goes without saying tends to be boggy year round until you reach the Upper Kauri turn off. Upper Kauri is one of my favorite trails in the entire Waitakere Ranges especially the section from this point through to the Lower Kauri Track (which is closed due to the Kauri die back).
After passing the Lower Kauri Track you continue (passing the other end of the Cascade Track) all the way back to the Auckland City Walk. From here you can turn left and finish at the bottom end of the Auckland City Walk or you can turn right to head back along the Auckland City Walk, finishing where you started.
A little bit of everything – mud, stairs, board walks and gigantic Kauri trees to admire. As a bonus, if you are that way inclined, there are more than enough information boards dotted along the route to make you feel like a tourist.
The other stuff;
Location: End of Falls Road, Waitakere.
Parking – Yep, one large car park, a small parking bay further up the hill and when it’s really busy they open up the lower fields for overflow parking.
Toilets – One at the Falls Road car park and another set at Waitakere Dam.
Kid Friendly – Each section on it’s own would be however all of the sections combined make for a pretty long trek on little legs!
Till next time