Mt Horokaka Track is in the Tangihua Forest and climbs one way to the summit and base of the antenna mast prominent on the surrounding skyline.
- Location: Roughly halve way between Whangerai (east) and Dargaville.(west)
- Distance : Approx: 7.0Km to summit(one way)
- Footwear: Hiking Boots (and Gaiters) highly recommend, as the upper part of the track is a rough tramping track.
- Track: Mt Horokaka Summit track is rated advanced by DoC,(*1) and I believe this is due to the rough nature of the upper track, the total time required, and the need to keep a close eye out for markers on the upper and lower tracks. The summit can be very cold – always take warm top.
- Topographical Map: NZ Topo 50 map: AX29
- Topography: The first 1.5km follows a gravel road through farm land, entering the bush the track climbs gradually until 2.7 Km mark where it ascends more steeply via a series of spurs and saddles to intersect the summit road just short of the summit.
- Timing: Allow a full day for this hike (return), the DoC (*1) suggested time of 3-4 hours one way to the summit was pretty accurate.
- Car Park: Small graveled area just off Omana Road, rated to 15 cars. Don’t drive through or park past the gate if its open.
- Track Manger: Department of Conservation, Whangerai Region.
- Comment: I recommend High visibility clothing in this forest as I have often seen hunters on the adjacent tracks.
Arriving in the early morning just after sun rise, the valley was awash with the colours of sunrise playing on patches of thick mist around the valley floor.
I nearly missed the Tangihua Forest access road, as it exits the gravel Omana road on the inside of a corner. The car park is out of sight raised above the road behind a screen of trees.
The road beyond the car park is a private road, with access only for hikers beyond the gate.
Once through the scrubbing and splashing of one of the most fancy Kauri Die Back cleaning stations I have ever seen, I followed the private road for around 2.5km(30-40 minutes) to just inside the bush line where the Horokaka track starts on the right side of the road.
Walking the entrance road was my least favourite part of the track, with the lack of shade making the blazing sun really strength sapping.(paradise for the cold blooded :-))
Take great care to keep the track markers in sight on this track, particularly through this first section in the palms, as I found it was very easy to miss turns and walk off the track in places.
The earth track can be slippery and muddy in places, climbing gradually up a spur to the first small summit where the track gives way to an open grassy area to the right and
The bush became lighter and more regenerative in character, as I continued up past the intersections of the Whakapono and Tumanako, walking
quietly I discovered several wild goats out in the open chomping on the ferns, but they were quick to do a yelling runner when they realised this large thing was moving and smelled of human…
From around spot height 361, the track took on the true rough undulating tramping track described by the cautionary DoC track sign at the track start. This part of the track is still earth under foot but criss crossed with slippery routes and puddles of mud, which would make hiking boots very useful.(I image it could be hell in any kind of shoe..)
This section of the track ascends a path or spurs, minor summits and connecting ridge lines as well as plenty of predictably delicious muddy saddles.
Around the 5 – 5.5 Km mark the track exits the bush on to an exceptionally steep tar sealed road leading the last access several hundred meters to the summit. (the gradient being most unwelcome at this point in my hike)
Despite the sun being hot and sweat inducing during the climb,(even with tree filters)the prevailing wind on the summit was bitterly cold, so I was glad to have a warm top and shell to put on fast.
I found a spot shielded from the wind by the large building at the base off the antenna to sit and enjoy my lunch with the fantastic 360 degree view making the climb well worth it, before starting the rather slippery descent back down the track.
Loop and Variety Options
On return from the summit, I turned right at the Tumanako track to add a bit of variety and a little more distance to my hike by looping down into the valley, where the track re joins the private road at the Tangihua Lodge complex via the Te Haua Ura Track.
The Whakapono track is of course a shorter option, rejoining the private road directly, just past the Tangihua lodge. An added benefit of taking either track is the chance to postpone the inevitable rolling farm land exit with a short de tour to the Kauri Dam walk,(20 mins) which runs off the private road on the right a short distance down the private road heading out.
Arriving back at the car park with still enough sun to dry the boots off after another enjoyable splash and scrub off in the Die back station, (?what is it about cleaning muddy boots that is so much fun?) and stay warm during a quick warm down stretch, followed by a wee nap before heading off on my homeward back road adventure.
- (*1) DoC is the accepted short name for the New Zealand Government Department, The Department of Conservation.