This is a beautiful bush walk, with sweeping views. Hemi Matenga Scenic Reserve is accessed from Tui Crescent, on the hill side of Waikanae, where there is a small parking area.
The reserve is the sloping, native bush-covered stretch of land that you can see from the car or train, with a few winding streets leading up to the lower slopes. Hemi Matenga Track is also known as Te Au Track. Three different-sized walks are on offer.
Who it suits
There are three options for walks, depending on your needs. The bush tracks aren’t well suited to people with wheelchairs or pushchairs.
- Kohekohe Walk – a short, easy 30-min round trip from Tui Cres and back via Kakariki Grove. This is great for people of all ages and fitness levels.
- Parata Track to the lookout (1-2 hours return). This well-formed track climbs to views of the coast and Reikorangi Valley.
- For those keen for a more sustained workout, the full loop goes all the way from Tui Cres to Huia Street, returning through Waikanae’s back streets to your starting point at Tui Cres. This is a marked route better suited to experienced walkers. The full loop involves a 400-metre height gain where the track climbs to 521 metres.
Dogs are allowed – on a leash only.
How long it takes
- Kohekohe Walk: 30 mins return
- Parata Track to the lookout: 1-2 hours return, roughly 2.2 kms
- Te Au Track (full loop): 2-4 hours round trip, about 6.67 kms
The area is named for Hemi Matenga (Ngāti Toa) after he passed in 1912. The land was later gifted to the public to enjoy as a recreation and conservation reserve.
Hemi Matenga is part of an ecosystem network that links Kāpiti Island with the Tararua Ranges, particularly for birds and plant species. The views from the reserve to Kāpiti Island and Waikanae Estuary are stunning.
Hemi Matenga Scenic Reserve sits within one of the largest remaining areas of kohekohe forest in New Zealand (30 hectares of native forest). This was once a dominant species across the whole Kāpiti region but now can only be found in certain areas. Another dominant species is akiraho (olearia paniculata).
A striking feature is the sudden transition from suburban streets into a lush forest environment. From the Kakariki Grove entrance you can hear the Kakariki Stream and you enter rapidly into rare coastal podocarp bush, including kohekohe and pukatea tree species.
This track can be easily accessed by train – just exit the train at Waikanae Station, walk back to Elizabeth St and head towards the native bush-clad hills inland. Turn left onto Winara Ave, then right into Kakariki Grove or Tui Crescent. Follow the signs to arrive at the Tui Crescent start of the track.
If driving, turn left off the old State Highway One in Waikanae, over the railway line onto Elizabeth Street.
Kakariki Grove provides an alternative access point beside another reservoir 500m south of the Tui Crescent entrance.
No toilets or water are provided. Nearby Relish Café, Elizabeth St, is a good spot for your coffee or food requirements (open 8am – 4pm). Or, stop off at the New World supermarket on the old highway to stock up on snacks or a picnic lunch.
- A useful brochure is available online or from i-site visitor centre or DOC offices – note there’s a local DOC area office at Kāpiti Area Office, Ph 04-296 1112, 10 Parata St, Waikanae.
- Before reaching the lookout mobile coverage is likely, but it will be patchy in the bush areas.
- On the longer loop keep an eye on the track markers, there are some side tracks.
Read Rob Hack’s poem, No Company Today featuring the Hemi Matenga walk