- Location: Dome: 5km North of Walkworth, Govan Wilson Car park 8.5km from Matakana township
- Timing: One way 5 – 6.5 Hours(*1) (Total time with stops)
- Track distance: 12km
- Car park 1 : SH 1, Dome Valley, (large) Car park 2: Govan Wilson Road.(2-3 car max.)
- Track Manager: Department of Conservation Auckland
- Footwear: Hiking shoes or boots are fine
Diving straight into the bush, the track climbs graveled staircase, arriving soon after at the Dome valley Lookout. Just beyond here is a short section of board walk and platform at a mature stand of Kauri trees.
Leaving the gravel the bush gets thicker and the track takes on a more wild nature. After a short climb we arrived at the giant balanced boulders just below the Dome Summit.
A short near vertical scramble and we stood on the Dome Summit,(336m) with a view to the North and the remains of Trig Station B2KU.
Beyond the summit the track continues along the ridge line to break out of the bush into a small grassy area surrounded by Gorse.
It looks like this hill top has become a popular camping spot for Te Araroa Trail hikers. We had a chuckle wondering how many late night arrivals found the gorse in the dark?
Having started later than normal, we stopped for Lunch just past the grassy hill, back under the shade of the bush where two logs had conveniently fallen in a good seat format.
Busy assembling my sandwich, I happened to mention Lettuce and quick as a flash the hunter gatherer was handing me a couple of leaves from a nearby Hangehange tree. (Geniostoma ligustrifolium) She is right they do taste like Lettuce…(*4)
After lunch the next 2km of track meandered along the ridge line, until it turned down hill just past spot height 329. Pretty soon after the track merges in to pine forest and out onto a forestry road.
Exiting to the pines we turned right on the Forestry road, realising immediately it should have been left. Reading other peoples track stories, it seems this is a common error at this spot.
After a 1km descent down the forestry road (Fisher Road) the track turns left on to Waiwhiu Road, (*5) and then shortly after it dives into the bush to cross the Waiwhiu Stream.
The crossing is a welcome hide from the summer sun, fully shaded by the bush, its tempting to hang around the water way to long in the dappled shade. The hunter gatherer even spotted an Eel ducking for cover and a rock.
This was the first time we heard a good strong variety of bird song, with only a couple of friendly Tom Tits following us on the track previously.
Once on the ridge the track continued at a gentler angle curving around through spot height 386 and on towards Conical peak (385) forest road.
Following the ridge we came across a giant hole torn in the bush line by a slip, now adding a spectacular view to Rangitoto Island and Auckland CBD just below the horizon.
At several spots along the track we found stringy twisting black stalks with a tuff of leaves at the tip. Thinking it looked like an unhealthy Supple Jack (Ripogonum scandens) we loaded a couple of photos to INaturalist(*7) and discovered it was in fact the healthy Juvenile version.
This latter part of the track crossed and recrossed old roads, until at the Conical Peak road intersection, the track the gravel road descending about 1 km to the small Govan Wilson car park.
We had left a car at the car park earlier and it seemed to still have its wheels, even if a fearsome Mr Weta was giving it a pretty steady looking over.
With the exception of the first 1 km and the 1.5-2km on Forestry Roads, the track is an easy going quality hiking track.
We found a few mushy spots on the saddles, but all where easily avoided. (except for that cyclist who came along and splashed me! – hope you fall off mate)
After the car park the track continues down a flight of stairs onto to Govan Wilson Road, linking to the next section of the Te Araora Trail.
(*1) There is something really unpredictable/ unreliable about Department of Conversation(DoC) track times. Your far better to estimate from the map or read other peoples actual times. My track times are generated by hand held GPS track log, and include resting, looking and listening.
(*2) Take extreme care turning in to this car park! This is a high crash area, and best approached from the North.
(*3) The Dome Tea rooms was unusually closed today, not that i enjoyed my only visit..
(*4) The hunter gatherer is constantly falling for my leg pulling, so maybe it was my urn, but it kinda did taste like lettuce?
(*5) There is Public foot and bicycle access only from Waiwhiu-Conical Peak Road and McArther Peak/Conical Peak Road.
(*6) Older versions of the NZtopo50 maps (before 2018) show only the section of tack to the Dome. The new version, has the entire track now labelled as the Te Araroa Trail.
(*7) The iNaturalist smartphone app photo recognition, can be handy as a standalone assistant.