Photos: Mark Coote
If you’re after a short, easy wander in the bush, you can’t go wrong with the Forest Loop Walk. Starting from Whareroa Farm car park, the track winds up to a lookout over Kāpiti Island, then heads back inland into native forest. Not too steep, the uphill soon gives way to a gentle trail, where no puffing or sweating is needed.
You can either return the same way or via the farm race, a wider, open farm road. The return trip or loop takes around 30-45 mins. No bikes are allowed on the forest track, but you might see a few whizz past if you return along the farm race. The Forest Loop Walk is ideal for kids, older people, or anyone who prefers an easy walking option. And it’s sheltered – a good choice for rainy or windy days.
Who it suits
This walk is accessible to most people, although not wheelchair- or pushchair-friendly as it’s too narrow and bumpy. (The Stream Loop Track, a 12 min walk along a concrete pathway at the start of this track, is good for people using prams or wheelchairs.)
Suits most fitness levels – kids (and adults) of all ages can enjoy this walk. The first part is a short uphill with a zigzag track and steps to make it a bit easier, but it might still make you puff a bit. The rest of the walk is gentle meandering or mostly downhill.
Great views of Kāpiti Island and Whareroa Farm, including the site where US Marines lived and trained during World War Two. Native forest, including many kohekohe, which once covered large areas of the Kāpiti Coast (flowers in May and June). These flowers are unique: they grow directly out of the trunk or from large branches. This is usually the case for equatorial plants – so this feature hints that the area was once much warmer than today. The flowers and seeds are a favourite snack of tūi and kereru. You can also see kahikatea, New Zealand’s tallest tree.
Signs along the way provide information about the historic US marine camp and native plants. In 1942-43, during World War 2, the flat land near the farm race was home to Camp Mackay. Spread across three camp areas from Whareroa to Paekākāriki, thousands of young American marines lived and trained – in jungle fighting, weapons and boat landing exercises.
Also don’t forget to check out the visitor shelter by the carpark, where the track starts from – there’s some good information and photos telling the story of how local people managed to advocate to keep Whareroa Farm in public ownership to be enjoyed by all. You can pick up a useful, hand-drawn map from here too.
Places to stop include at the lookout point, or anywhere you like in the forest. The Hub is a good spot for a rest at either end of your walk. From there you can discover the Urban Hut Club artwork. As part of the 2020 New Zealand Festival of the Arts, artists Kemi Niko & Co installed 6 huts in the Kāpiti region. Download the Whareroa Farm Reserve map here.
How long it takes
The walk will take around 30-45 mins return – or doing a round trip, coming back along the farm race. The Forest Loop track is 1.6 kms long.
When you arrive at Whareroa, walk through the entrance shelter and follow the signs. As you head out from the shelter, follow the main pathway (not the original track to the left, which is now closed). You’ll walk a circular route to the Forest Loop Track – don’t take the first turn-off with the Forest Loop sign, as that’s the farm race – keep walking back towards the carpark direction, and you’ll see a second sign for the track, which heads uphill. If you did end up on the farm race, you could walk that way – but in that case make sure you take the Forest Loop track to enjoy the bush on your way back.
Head to the carpark at Whareroa Farm, opposite the Mackays entrance to Queen Elizabeth Park. If driving from the south, take the Queen Elizabeth Park exit and drive under the highway and off to the right. It’s so close to Paekākāriki that biking or walking there is also possible for people with a bit more time and energy (it takes around 20 mins to bike to the carpark, and about an hour to walk). Just head out from the end of Tilley Road and take Te Ara o Whareroa, turning right up the hill to follow the Yankee Trail via the Wetland. There’s currently no public transport option to get to Whareroa Farm, except for a taxi.
Toilets are available at the beginning of the walk, and also at the Hub area at the midpoint of the loop. BYO water. Grab a coffee from a Paekākāriki café before or after this walk, a 5 minute drive away. BYO snacks or picnic lunch if you have time.
- Other walks nearby include an easy amble to the Dell, or up the Link Track (keep alert for descending mountain bikers).
- The farm race can be exposed in strong wind or rain.
- This walk should have mobile coverage. If you lose coverage in the bush, just head out to the open and you’ll get it again.
Whareroa Guardians Community Trust works to help protect and develop Whareroa Farm as a reserve for environmental and heritage conservation and public enjoyment. Volunteers and/or new members of the trust are welcome any time.
Tasks for volunteers include planting, weeding, stream restoration and pest control. Tens of thousands of native trees and plants have been planted over the years, transforming the farmland setting into a restored paradise. Regular working bees are held on Sunday mornings.
Contact the Whareroa Guardians at: