From the carpark on Piha Road, the Upper Nihotupu Walk track crosses the bridge, then follows easy grade to meet the Upper Nihotupu Dam Road (10 minutes). Pedestrian access continues down easy graded road to Upper Nihotupu Dam, bypassing two waterfalls enroute. 2.6km 45 minutes (Source)
The car park is large and located on the left hand side of Piha Road not far from the Scenic Drive turn off. Keep an eye out for the sign approximately 100m before the entrance, if you get to the bridge, you’ve gone too far.
From the car parking area you cross a small wooden bridge to enter a section of native bush. This area is pristine, so much so that I imagine this is exactly what a native bush setting on a movie set would look like! The compacted gravel track was clear of any debris and relatively firm underfoot alas this section is nowhere near long enough and after approx 500m’s (a 5 min jog) the bush section ends at Upper Nihotupu Dam Road, which is also where you will find the first set of toilet facilities.
At the junction turn left onto Upper Nihotupu Dam Road and follow the stream for the next 2 kilometers to reach the top of the 100ft tall Nihotupu Dam. Even though this section of the track is a road (my least favorite surface to run on), the scenery certainly makes up for it as it’s quite simply breathtaking, with waterfalls (big and small) everywhere and in my opinion beats the Waitakere Dam Walk hands down.
When you reach the dam “proper” I’d suggest that you continue along the road towards the picnic area and then follow the old tramline to reach the base of the dam. From here (the dam looks very impressive) and you can ascend set of (very steep) stairs to return to the top of the dam. My advice? Once you are on the stairs – don’t look down ..
All in all, this is a nice and somewhat leisurely (non technical) run but perhaps more importantly it’s a great walk for the entire family especially with the inclusion of the picnic area (it’s a decent hike for little legs, they’ll probably get hungry). Thankfully the second set of toilet facilities are also located close to the picnic area – at the back of the green building near the start of the tramline.
Till next time