Tramping Track (2.0km) – Easy gravel track leaves Piha Road, just before Karekare Road turnoff and descends to Ussher Cross (30 minutes). It continues across Glen Esk Stream, climbs a ridge and continues up gentle grade along the south side of a ridge through young kauri groves to Home Track. (Source).
Whilst heading towards Piha (on Piha Road), Winstone Track is located on the right hand side of the road on a bend just before you get to the Karekare turn off. Although there is a small car parking bay at the trail head as it’s a blind corner I strongly suggest you drive past the track and turn around at the Karekare junction which is just up ahead.
From the small car parking area the trail is a well groomed gravel trail that descends all the way to Usshers Cross and although the sign at the start states it’s a 30 minute journey we did it in less than 10 even after stopping for a wee (James) and a few photos (me).
As neither of us had been in this area before it was nice to see the large map located at Usshers Cross. I’m guessing this is due to the fact the Hillary Trail comes through here. The Kauri Grove Track heads both left and right and Winstone continues straight ahead.
There is a water crossing a short distance from the junction which is semi-rock hoppable – eg even though there are no large boulders (which make rock hopping much easier), there are just enough smaller ones that if you are nimble you can get across without getting wet feet. This however may change if it’s been raining a great deal.
I’d suggest if you are coming from the other direction that you not bother rock hopping and just run through as you are only about 20 minutes away from the end point (disregard the sign at Usshers Cross that states it will take you 40 minutes to get back up the hill – it won’t).
From the water crossing Winston Track narrows considerably and becomes much more of a tramping track. The track sidles up the ridge for some distance and sections of the it have collapsed down to the bank below. James usually hates tracks like this, running at full tit so he’s not caught in the avalanche that’s just waiting to happen, however in this case (because the surface underfoot is water sodden clay) he was reasonably sure we’d be safe as long as we stayed on the trail which with all amount of tree roots lining the way isn’t as easy as it sounds. 😉
Unlike many other trails in the area, there aren’t any large variances in elevation across the 2km length of the Winstone Track. In fact, you’ll only loose 84m over the first 1k and regain 77m over the second kilometer there is also a prolific amount of Kauri Trees to run amongst which I always feel rather blessed when I am able to do so.
The “other” stuff;
Location – 184 Piha Road, Piha, Auckland.
Parking – Small bay on Piha Road.
Toilet Facilities – No.
Kid Friendly – Yep.
Till next time