Walking Waikato – The Nikau Walk
Unbelieveable! This walk has it all. Do you know the Nikau Walk and have you done it in Spring or Summer? Mountain bike, jog or stroll, swim and picnic. Or camp overnight. Don’t miss this one. It’s one of the very, very best from Slater Chartered Accountants’ Walking Waikato series.
Address: Limeworks Loop Road, near Te Pahu
Directions: Follow the State Highway 23 (Whatawhata Rd) towards Raglan. Turn left into Te Pahu Road. Follow the Te Pahu Road for about 10 kms then turn into the Limeworks Loop Road and follow all the way along until you get to the Kaniwhaniwha and Nikau Walk Car Park just next to the little bridge and stream. It’s in a slight gully and you can’t miss it. The walk is across the road from the carpark and there is good signage.
Dogs: No, sorry. It’s a National Park
Mountain bikes: You bet. Bring them if you want.
Swimming: Yes, yes and yes!
Picnic area: Yes, soft grass area by river and bridge, and a couple of picnic tables near carpark area
Camping: Yes. Take a tent if you’re feeling adventurous.
Wheelchair friendly? This walk is not really suitable for wheelchairs, even though the Department of Conservation says it is. There’s a bit of soft surface and mud.
Duration: 2 – 2.5 hours
This magnificent walk is a very quiet and peaceful “shared” track. It’s tucked away on Limeworks Loop Road in The Waikato and is an absolute MUST for trampers and walkers. It’s a good and varied circuit for joggers too.
Be sure to take a towel and swimmers and if you feel in the mood you can always camp.
NEAR PERFECT NIKAU
There’s something about walking and tramping along a watercourse. The sound of currents, trickles and the gush of the stream over riverstones always soothes and helps to clear my otherwise busy mind.
Much of the Nikau Walk hugs a fairly substantial water course that weaves down a slight slope from the rainforest heights of Pirongia Forest Park. It contains a number of fair sized waterholes suitable for swimming and sunbathing. There are small sheltered stops between the cabbage trees and gorgeous native flax palms adjacent to the water. You can choose to stop in ankle deep shallows or bunker down at one of the larger waterholes for a full swim. Either way, the water is clear, cold, refreshing and beautiful. At any one of these spots you can take off your day pack and plunge into the icy cold Kiwi temperatures for a good refresher part ways along your tramp. The Nikau Walk is therefore an ideal walk for a hot Waikato summer day.
The biggest and best waterhole is probably the one closest to the carpark and bridge at the outset of the walk. This makes the spot a perfect hot summer’s day destination for a whole family. Take rugs, a ball and a good hamper of yummy food and you can make a full day of it. We took some simple food – rolls, cheese and salami and fruit, and loved sitting in the sun after our walk.
The water is calm here and the swimming is delightful. You can oversee kids from the bridge or the walkway that overhangs the swimming area. You can also enter the water from the water’s edge quite easily. There isn’t much traffic along the Limeworks Loop Road so the bridge is relatively empty, although here and there a car will rumble over the bridge unexpectedly. It’s a good idea to watch out for sporadic traffic if you or the children position yourselves on the bridge. Alternatively you can find a quieter spot a little further along the walk as previously suggested, far from the bridge and up towards the rainforest area and camp area.
The Nikau Walk is located in the marvellous Pirongia Forest Park which is another one of The Waikato’s best kept secrets. The rainforest here is stunning and a welcome refresher from the city life and 9 to 5 work days in the city. The walk actually fuses with a few other more advanced Pirongia summit tramps (which also comprise an overnight stay in the new Department of Conservation Pahautea Hut near the mountain’s summit. The hut was completed in 2015 and has sleeping/bunk facilities for 15-20 people . It’s a purpose built shelter although there is no heating and you will have to bring a portable cooker if you want to camp. This is a fairly advanced tramp, and we’ll be doing it in the warmer months over a weekend as it’s several hours each way.) If you want to camp out on the The Nikau Walk, there is a very big camping area that is only about 50 minutes from the carpark on Limeworks Loop Road. It has toilet amenities and access to the fresh creek water and is a delightful spot. Take a tent and a sleeping bag and have fun! I don’t think fires are allowed so a portable stove is required here too.
From Little Things Big Things Grow
You might also enjoy taking note of the beautiful details of the flora while on the Nikau track. We found a number of very pretty foliage patterns and mosses as we made our way up the slight incline in the forest. The cool microclimate facilitates the growth of some surprisingly delicate vines and tendril plants that are great for the amateur or professional photographer. The variations in leaf structure and colour are mesmerising and you get the sense of that truly old growth forest feel that is so much a part of the Kiwi geography and topography. It’s a real delight and well worth showing the kids.
Jogging and Fitness track
This walk is marked out at about 7 km in distance and about 2 to 2.5 hours in time. It’s a great distance, still classified as easy but long enough to give you the sense you’ve really escaped the city for the day. It’s perfect for those who want to use it as a circuit and will be completed a lot faster if you are jogging. Here at Slater Chartered Accountants blog, I always like to include jogging suitability in the Walking Waikato reviews as there are so many local people out there in The Waikato and beyond who love to jog on new tracks to break the monotony of the same old exercise routes. We are so lucky to have amazing tracks here in New Zealand. There’s an added bonus for me as an Aussie – NO SNAKES!
Tramping and walking allow us to develop new thinking paradigms. When we get into nature and remove ourselves from the laptop, the mobile and the graphics programmes and the other work, I experience new angles and refreshed ideas. I see things a little more clearly and sort through any issues with more clarity.
This walk is one of the very, very best around and it’s so close to Hamilton and Raglan.
Get out to the Nikau Walk soon and make sure you go on a picture perfect sunny day. Enjoy it all, the swimming and walking, the flora and fauna, and have a fantastic picnic on the grass when you finish.
You’ll love it.