Walking Track – From the large parking area on Scenic Drive, the Waitakere Dam walk follows the driveway down to the Waitakere Dam. A short branch midway down leads to a 7m girth kauri. (1.4 km, 30 minutes*.)
I’d started trail running not long before the April school holidays and as the weather was nice and the kids wanted to explore, we spent a fair amount of their holidays adventuring through the Cascade Kauri Regional Park.
I would select tracks that were relatively short with easy access to parking and toilet facilities and if possible (as requested by Miss 8) it was a bonus if the track had viewing platforms so that she could sit and draw, although this school holidays I’ve given her a digital camera so that she can take photos of her surroundings and use those photos to draw at home (it becomes a long and boring day for her brother if we are waiting for Issy to finish drawing before we can carry on). 😉
I’d read about the Waitakere Dam walk and it seemed uber kid friendly, so (quite excitedly) we all set off to see the dam. The car park is large and easy to find (I’d looked online so I knew what I should be looking for and spotted the large green sign quite easily) and there are clean toilet facilities on the right hand side just before you get to the dam – there is no signage and they’d be easy to miss if you didn’t know they were there.
The 1.4 km Waitakere Dam walk goes from the gate at the top of the driveway to the sign at the opposite end of the dam and it’s a 124m descent to the dam (more if you continue down the stairs to the bottom of the dam face) and although it’s a rolling (and somewhat winding) descent, it’s still noticeably steep and apart from a concrete driveway lined with trees and a power poles dotted along the way, there is no view. In fact, my kids started complaining after about the first 10 metres
“this is just a driveway,
this is NOT the forest,
you said there was a dam,
this is sooo boring”…
Anyway I ignored their complaints, sure that once we got to the dam they’d be all “ooooo, aaaaahhh” but alas, when my two got to the dam, they asked where the dam was. When I explained we were standing on it they both shook their heads and said “Mum this is NOT a dam” upon pressing them for further information they were both annoyed at me because they had assumed we were going to a real dam, that a beaver had made …
So – yeah – according to both kids this is the most boring walk in the history of all walks and they never ever ever want to go there again (and after ascending the driveway back to the car with them, I’m pretty keen to not take them back too ) ..
I on the other hand often use the Waitakere Dam walk to reach other tracks in the park. The dam walk meets the Fence Line Track on the other side of the dam (turning left will eventually take you through to the Long Road/Ridge Road junction whilst going the opposite way leads you down to the Auckland City Walk (passing Cascade track along the way) or if you aren’t afraid of the dark or zombies (like I am) you can venture along the Waitakere Tramline Walk (and through what I imagine are Zombie filled tunnels) to reach Anderson’s.
Whilst the Waitakere Dam Walk is a great feeder track I do tend to shy away from it because it’s a vast expanse of concrete which for me is a killer on the old knees (especially on the descent) but yesterday I ventured down the driveway just so (after some tiki touring to increase the mileage) “run” the ascent. It’s a killer cardio workout and great for the legs and lungs. In fact, I’m yet to do an ascent where I didn’t think my head was going to explode ..
The sign near the entrance states that the return walk is a constant, steep, uphill climb and will take 1 1/4 hours – this is EXTREMELY generous. Even my kids who complained constantly and who stopped at every single seat along the way made it back in under an hour and yesterday I made it back in just under 15 minutes (I jogged down in approx 9).
When I knew I had about 700m’s to go, I looked up ahead to see two people coming towards me. This isn’t rare as it’s one of the more popular “easy” walks in the Waitakere Ranges and as noted earlier it’s a great feeder track, so along with the usual family groups and couples out on walks, you’ll often pass trampers or trail runners who are heading further into the park. However as I got closer I noticed their shoes .. dress shoes. So I looked up and saw two well dressed young men coming towards me (complete with pea coats) I wave hello and notice the phones in hand.
As I pass them I query .. “Are there Pokemon down there? Apparently there are!
I bet they’re in the zombie tunnels ..
Till next time
*This might be the time to descent as the sign at the top of the driveway states the ascent is 75 minutes (although that is also very generous).
** Photos can be found HERE