by Geoffrey Churchman

Short bush walks are one of the best ways of getting exercise and in my opinion far better than sweaty gyms.

In Waikanae some are close by — the Riverbank paths, the Hemi Matenga summit track, and in Reikorangi, the Mangaone Track. The last follows (apparently since it’s not obvious) the route of an old logging tramway along the Waikanae River over the the southern half through Kaitawa Scenic Reserve, which contains previously milled podocarp forest.

The northern section crosses farmland, following a farm road for part of the distance, however, a notice on the DoC website from 15 December states that the northern half has been closed “due to legal access issues” and “This is a long term alert.”

Thus the walk is presently truncated to about 3 km from the end of the Mangaone South Road to a clearing, although it’s the best part of it.

Overall, the track is fairly easy although at one point barriers mark where a section that went around a bluff has been blocked off and now requires a detour over the top of it, which is a bit steep. Most of the track surface is smooth, although there are dips through creek beds, narrow ledges and gnarly tree roots in places. The DoC sign at the start gives a time of 1½ hours for the 3 km which is about right.

This are lots of lovely groves of trees and tree ferns that you pass through, but best of all is the experience of resting beside the Waikanae River in the clearing. Water trickling over rocks, birds cheeping, a breeze barely disturbing leaves and toi toi and native trees to study at leisure where you’re seated or lying. This is what allows you to forget the state of the country and feel much better!

The Waikanae River, clear water flowing gently, and drinking it should be safe.
The view lying in the grass on the Riverbank on my side.
The view lying on my back.
Trees around the edge of the clearing.
A little suspension bridge at the south end.
View of the river from the suspension bridge.