Exceptionally beautiful, boasting hidden creeks, lush bush, and pretty farmland, and rustic relics of a bygone era. The fact that few people venture here adds a feeling of intrepid adventure. The Kaiwhakauka is a true back country trail best suited to fit, experienced, and well-equipped mountain bikers with no fear of sweat and mud. Much of it is narrow, technical single-track that can get very muddy after rain.
The trail starts at Blue Duck Station at Whakahoro, on the banks of the Whanganui River, 45km west of SH4 near Owhango. The station is a working farm, so named for the resident whio (blue ducks). The Blue Duck Station team put considerable work into conservation, particularly Whio
and Kiwi. They also offer authentic, homespun hospitality in both food and lodging. It is a great spot to recharge before heading out on the Kaiwhakauka.
Follow the (sometimes muddy) gravel road up towards the Whanganui National Park entrance. Along the way take a few minutes to climb down the short walking track to admire the waterfall that cascades into a canyon that is also home to glow worms, whio and more.
Just before heading into the bush take time to explore the “Depot”. A historical stone floored building filled with remnants of the past, used to store deliveries from the riverboats for the settlers of the area.
Through the gate, the track leads up the valley through a mixture of regenerating bush and farmland to the Whanganui National Park boundary.
From the park boundary its primarily single track with some steep drops to the river – walk if you need to. Eventually you come to the old Mosley homestead site near the Waione Stream. The open clearing here lends itself well to camping (there is a shelter here).
The track continues towards Cootes’ homestead (private land), crossing many small, bridged side streams with only a few small open flats. The old Tobin homestead, which is marked by an old chimney stack, can be seen to the right of the track.
From here there is a steady climb of 3.2km of a mostly clay farm road through relatively undisturbed mixed tawa/ podocarp forest to the junction marked by a carved tōtara pou on the old Kaiwhakauka and Mangapurua roads. The pou symbolises the ngahere (forest) and provides spiritual and cultural safety for visitors. The pou also pays tribute to the settlers of the Mangapurua and Kaiwhakauka Valleys