Ecology Trail – Tawharanui Regional Park

(Walking Track) The Ecology Trail highlights Tawharanui’s precious natural ecology and heritage taking in coastline, wetlands, pasture and native bush. This is a great walk for spotting rare and native species of flora and fauna such as saddleback, kaka, north island robin and maybe a kiwi. Follow the yellow marker posts. 3.8km*. (Source).

I circumnavigated the Ecology Trail with Miss 10 the weekend of our Tawharanui Camping Trip. I’d chosen this trail above any others in the park because it was relatively close to the campground and perhaps more importantly with a ten year old in tow, reasonably short.

The Ecology Trail is a loop which starts at the grassy area in front of the main car park (toilets located here) and continues up the path past the Sanctuary Hut (toilets also located here) approximately 5 minutes after the hut is an Ecology Trail Alternative which looked liked a boardwalk path over the wetland but I’m unsure as we continued straight ahead passing by the old power house which now pumps water to header tanks that in turn gravity feed 35 troughs throughout the park keeping the farm animals hydrated.

10 minutes (walking speed) from the pump house you’ll reach a shoe cleaning station after heading past the South Link Track. From this point you’ll head into a single track bush section which reminded me very much of the Waitakere Ranges, especially the very steep and muddy section that leads to the North Coast Track.

At this point the signage is pretty ambiguous with marker posts heading straight down North Coast Track and another set heading right towards the cliff. As the map we had showed the Ecology Trail crossing over the North Coast Track we headed right following the few and very far between markers. Which inevitably lead to a lot of guesstimating what direction to head. (FYI from the last marker in the paddock look towards the fence line to locate a gate (which you’ll jump over to carry on)). From here the marker poles are pretty much non existent so follow your nose to reach the shoreline.

At this point I’m going to say that if I’d known that I’d have to rock hop with a ten year old near on high tide to get back I would have chosen to follow the North Coast Track back down the hill and I seriously considered returning the way we had come but thankfully we were able hug the shoreline in each bay until the very 10m’s or so where we invariably had to get wet to get back to the beach below Sanctuary Hut. If it had been any longer (or deeper than mid shin) I would have turned Miss 10 around and listened to her complain the entire way back – safety first!

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*The Regional Council website states that the Ecology Trail is 3.8km in length and will take 2 hours to complete, however my Garmin measured the route to be 5.2km although we did have to get from the campground to the official start (and back) but even then we managed to circumnavigate the trail in under 90 minutes and that includes a rest break and shell collection stop.

Also, for the record we didn’t see any saddleback’s, kaka, north island robin’s or kiwi (although in saying that we went mid morning, so we were never going to see a kiwi), we did however see some very friendly fan tails and a few (less friendly) kereru.

For more information, please visit the Auckland Regional Council.

For a trail map, please download the Tawaranui Regional Park Map

Till next time

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