If you feel like getting amongst a classic Northland bush reserve and doing a bit of hill work at the same time, then a trunch through Mair Park and the Parihaka Walkways will give you the chance to double your fun.
The native flora showcases its beauty in many different ways along the tracks.
While you're in there, amongst the trees, it's hard to believe the Whangarei CBD is only a stone's throw away. Amazingly close to the city, this precious Whangarei asset is a place that locals and tourists alike can enjoy. As a local, I enjoy taking in the fresh air, flora, fauna and views this place has to offer. It really makes you feel at one with nature.
Whangarei Harbour viewed from the summit of Mount Parihaka.
Once you reach the summit you have the opportunity to get familiar with the lay of the land and view the Whangarei CBD, Hatea River and harbour from above. The journey and the destination definitely make this hike worthwhile.
You will find this map board at the entrance to Mair Park at the end of Rurumoki Street.
There are five different ways to enter the Parihaka walkway system by foot. There is one at Mair Park at the end of Rurumoki Street, one off Whareora Road along the East side of the Hatea river, one at the end of Dundas Road, off Riverside Drive and another one at the end of Vale Road which is also off Riverside Drive.
If you are going to the start of the walkways by car, there are four different locations to park. There is one at the end of Vale Road, off Riverside Drive (South end of the reserve), one at the Whangarei Aquatic Centre on the corner of Riverside Drive and Ewing Road (South end of the reserve), one at the end of the Ross track on Dundas Road, off Riverside Drive (South end of the reserve), one at the summit of Mount Parihaka at the end of Memorial Drive, off Riverside Drive and another one down the left side of Rurumoki Street at Mair Park, off Hatea Drive (West side of the reserve). Click here to view these on the Whangarei District Council Parihaka Tracks map.
The tree-lined Rurumoki Street car park has a welcoming feel to it.
The car park on Rurumoki Street has always been my preference, as it has a set of public toilets, a children's playground and a map board under a wooden shelter that displays the track options around Mair Park and the Parihaka Walkways. There are many combinations to try, depending on how much time and energy you have to burn. Based on the time-frames recorded on the signs and way-finders around the park, a return trip to or from the summit is going to take you anywhere between one and two hours depending on your fitness level and the tracks you choose.
A beautiful, solid old walk bridge connects Mair Park to the Parihaka Walkways.
You don't need to be super fit to walk to the summit and back but the Whangarei District Council website advises that "moderate fitness and good footwear are needed". If you do happen to use these tracks for fitness purposes, they make a great training ground to get your puff on. Just remember to watch out for other track users and share the paths appropriately. As part of our fitness regime, my running buddy & I sometimes opt to walk up one track to the summit and run down a different one back to the base of the mountain.
The Hatea River track is a less hilly option along the base of Mount Parihaka.
A less hilly option is the Hatea River track which starts at the end of Vale Road and meanders its way along the river to Whareora Road. It's amazing how many other runners and walkers we see using this path too.
There are three tracks to choose from, if you're keen to get to the summit of Mount Parihaka. The Hatea River walkway is where the Hokianga/Dobbie and Drummond tracks lead off from. However the Ross track is a little different in that it starts/finishes at the end of Dundas Rd, off Riverside Drive. All three tracks are great no matter which way you travel on them. Either way you will experience something natural and unique to Whangarei.
The Drummond track zig-zags and steps its way up Mount Parihaka.
The Drummond track zig-zags its way up and includes quite a few sets of steps. The Dobbie/Hokianga track goes through a stand of kauri trees. The Ross track has a very beautiful moss and rock grotto, complete with its own little waterfall & a wooden stairway that works its way around the edge so that you can take in the view all the way up or down. It's inspiring enough to make you feel like you could be on one of the sets from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. All the tracks have a fine grit base, wooden fronted steps and perhaps on average, are about a metre wide.
Click here to view the Whangarei District Council Parihaka Reserve tracks map.
Click here to read about the history of Parihaka and to get more in-depth details about the walkways.
Click here to check out the Whangarei District Council website for other options that will take you further afield if you are looking for an even longer run or walk in this area or in the wider Whangarei district.
Hello Angela, this is a lovely article but it has made me sad - we lived in NZ for almost 8 years but never got up that way; so we missed out on something wonderful. Maybe if we ever get back over (???). Thanks for the lovely visuals of your piece. Tony