Kura Omanawanui Loop
When I was putting the Auckland Outdoor content together this was one of the few tracks I hadn’t done and never even heard about. And it sounded great – a bush walk, followed by the ridge overlooking the Manukau. And as it turns out, the Kura Track - Omanawanui Track loop is one of the most interesting as well as one of the most scenic tracks in the Waitakere Ranges. Much of it is a real tramping track - steep, high and exposed in places plus rugged underfoot. Quite doable but be prepared if wet. The Omanawanui also forms a section of the multi day Hillary Trail.
We started at the bottom of the Kura Track at Whatipu from the first parking area you see, which is about 400 m back up Whatipu Rd from the main car park. The Kura Track heads across the grassed valley then follows the stram into attractive regrowth bush. There are several modest stream crossings. At the point where the trail departs from the stream, there are is also a larger pool and picnic area.
From here, it climbs up 240 m through kauri regrowth to join the Puriri Ridge Track near Whatipu Road. You have the option of going left on Puriri until you meet Donald McLean Track and a nearby car park. You can then walk Mt Donald McLean to the summit for the views. We had done Puriri before so we headed right to Omanawanui, which is the real highlight.
It starts along the ridge in bush with a gentle downhill then opens up to a cliff top walk, rising from about 175 m to 241 m above the harbour. It includes a steep exposed tramp to the peak, marked by a trig point and superlative 360 degree views.
It is a rough clamber down, then a modest climb up to a small hill. Stand there and look back to where you have come from – it doesn’t look like there is a path there at all; just a bush clad cliff face. Then another short down stretch with a final climb to a point close to Whatipu. At 200 m, this is another cliff edge for selfies, with help from a bench seat!
On the final leg down, you can also take in the Signal House Track as a short aside. But we were thinking more about a cold beer by this stage…
Allow, up to 4 hours tramping time, including photo stops and lunch.