Looking for somewhere new and interesting to take my trail running adventures I found this trail on nzwalksinfo website. Trig Track in Otawa Scenic Reserve is one of the most out-of-the-way trails within the Papamoa Hills area. Granted, it was a little more of a drive to the access point than I anticipated (32 minutes from Mount Maunganui), but my extra petroleum expense was generously rewarded with a challenging trail that I selfishly had to myself. I didn’t encounter another soul during my little sojourn into the woods, despite it being a busy summer weekend in the Mount area.
Starting my excursion from Te Puke Quarry Road heading south, it was a 5.15km ambling, yet unrelenting, three to four degree incline through a low land forest along a ridge line generously peppered with rewarewa and tawa giants. Finally bursting out onto a small clearing at the Otawa Trig – 557m above sea level – at a small parting in the treetops, I was spoilt with views over the Bay of Plenty lowlands and coastal area.
Now if I were a sensible day-hiker, I would have stopped here, had a quick bite to eat and returned the same way I had come. However, being more inclined towards revelling in self-inflicted hardship, I continued down the other side to Manoeka Rd towards Otawa Lodge. The decent – with an average pitch of negative six degrees (and at worst 15 degrees) – was rooty and technical with that distinct “mud slide” look should it get the scent of rain. So I hopped, slipped, stopped and tripped my way down – listening to my knees whistling dreams of belonging to an agile feather-light branch hopping cotton-top monkey and not me. Towards the end of the trail there were a few stream crossings to douse my feet, and the trail became increasingly wide and ATV abused – obviously a regular haunt for hunters – before finally plopping me out onto a sad and desolate torn-up Manoeka Road end – not quite 10km from the start. Yah – I had found my way exactly to nowhere in particular.
With wet shoes and tired knees, all this slipping and root hopping would have been perfect had I organised a pick up at this exit point. But since I am hardy – a.k.a. stupid – the only alternative, of course, was to backtrack via return journey. Unsurprisingly, it is exceedingly more fun coming down than going up. However, the journey was thoroughly enjoyed, hauntingly beautiful, especially the Nikau forest – my favourite – and ended with a satisfyingly sweaty been-there-done-that feeling.
Summary: Depending on fitness level, transport arrangements, and ability with technical terrain, this trail can cater for anyone from trail hardened athletes to Gentle Annie summit walkers.
- Summit Return: 10.3km (easy)
- Full-length one way: 9.7km (not so easy)
- Full-length return: 19.4km (hard)
Access: Intersection of Te Puke Quarry Road and Reid Road (or alternatively Manoeka Road end). There is a little car park directly opposite Ried Road intersection on Quarry Rd. The first 1.5km of the trail is across private farmland before heading into the bush. Please be respectful of farmland and leave gates as you found them.