East Tunnel Mouth Track – Cascade Kauri Regional Park (Closed due to Kauri Die Back)
Tramping Track – From the Waitakere Filter Station at the end of Christian Road, the East Tunnel Mouth Track follows a gravel road to the eastern end of the Waitakere pipeline tunnel. The track then continues as a track on a steep ascent to the saddle on Scenic Drive. 1.2 km. (Source).
Who even knew this was here?!?!?! I certainly didn’t and I’ve lived in West Auckland for over 3/4 of my life!
It’s certainly (as aptly described by Dave back in 2007) a Jekyl and Hyde type of a trail. In fact I’m not even sure where the trail officially starts. I’ve seen maps that have it starting opposite the old driveway that leads to the Swanson Pipeline Track, but there is no signage at all until you go through the locked gate past the Watercare Building (on the left) and the toilet block (on the right) – which actually looks quite fancy as far as toilet blocks go.
I followed the sign on the driveway that said “Waitakere Tramline —> 500m” which would be totally irrelevant unless you knew that the (now defunct) Waitakere Tramline used begin it’s journey to the Waitakere Dam by travelling through the 700m long George’s Tunnel on the East Tunnel Mouth Track. Thankfully I’d read a couple of blog posts prior to turning up so I knew that I’d have to pass by the tunnel enroute.
This small and somewhat irrelevant seeming sign is the only one you’ll see for quite sometime. Even after bypassing the locked gate and continuing along the driveway you won’t see anything to confirm that you are heading in the correct direction for at least a couple of minutes. The first official track sign is located opposite the entrance of the Filter Track (whose sign is even harder to spot, you’d definitely have to be looking for that particular trail to find it).
The wide gravel driveway leads all the way to Georges Depot and upon seeing the tiny tunnel I was glad to see that the East Tunnel Mouth Track veers to the right to sidle up the ridge. It starts out as a very narrow but perfectly runnable track but very quickly it turns into a steep, rocky, wet and muddy 10 minute slog uphill. I’d say that in winter this track would easily be confused for a waterfall and you’d end up having to scramble up the edge (whilst hanging on for dear life so you didn’t fall down the side of the ridge).
One thing is certain, I’m not coming back in the middle of winter to find out.
The other stuff;
Location – End of Christian Road, Swanson or (if game enough to descend) you can park at the small bay a short way from the track entrance. (Approx 851 Scenic Drive).
Parking – Yes at either end.
Toilets – Toilet block located across the driveway from the Watercare Building.
Kid Friendly – Up to the Georges Depot, from there there you’d need to “hoist” them up the higher “steps” on the trail, I struggled in areas and pulled myself up using the surrounding vegetation.
Till next time