Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mount Ngongotaha Nature Walk & Jubilee Track

Date: May 6, 2016
Category: Easy walking track
Weather: Occasional light rain, humid, 16
Location: Rotorua, Bay of Plenty
Distance: Ignore the distances on the website, as they are wrong. According to a more accurate sign, Mount Ngongotaha Nature Walk is a 3.2 km loop and Jubilee Track is 5 km return. Total route seen below - 7.2 km

Despite this track being very close to Rotorua CBD and what I would consider a nice lunchtime walk or run, I saw only two pairs of people on my run of Ngongotaha. The weather was very humid and towards the end of my run I encountered a light rain, so perhaps others were staying inside on this Friday. The track is easy to get to, only about a 10 minute drive West of Rotorua on Paradise Valley Road. There are small (not DOC) signs for the Paradise Valley Walks that lead you to the parking lot.
Parking Lot Rubbish
The parking lot was atrocious, resembling a place Oscar the Grouch would avoid. Signs of heavy partying were littered throughout the parking area, with beer bottles, fast food containers, and other things you definitely didn't want to step on strewn about. I was pleasantly surprised to find there was no rubbish on the trail, it was confined to the parking area. It is rare to find somewhere that covered in rubbish in New Zealand, so hopefully it was a fluke and will be cleaned up soon. From what I can tell, the parking area and short track up to the Mount Ngongotaha Nature Walk and Jubilee Track are managed by the Mount Ngongotaha Bush Restoration Trust, while the tracks themselves are managed by DOC.
Nature Walk
The nature walk starts by going through two gates and past some long drops (latrines), that were stocked with toilet paper and relatively clean. I started going West (left), but you can choose to go around either way. The path was well kept on the nature walk and there were quite a few signs detailing the plants and animals of the area. The birds were plentiful along the track, with their songs easily louder than the moos from the cows on the neighbouring farms. The Jubilee track connects with the Nature track once near the start of each direction of the loop and once at the top. I did not take the section of the Jubilee track that goes inside the loop of the nature walk, but instead took only the upper part of the Jubilee track in order to see the entire nature walk. The nature walk section is a fairly easy walk heading up the mountain on the way out and down on the way back. The path is wide enough in most areas for two people to walk side-by-side. The East half of the nature walk was more overgrown than the West, but still easily passable and navigable.
Jubilee Track
The Jubilee track is considerably steeper and slightly more technical than the Mount Ngongotaha Nature Walk. Roots cover a lot of the path and you'll be slowed some by the steeper terrain. Still, the path was pretty easy and had less mud than one would expect from a humid forest as those generally found in the Bay of Plenty. In fact, these tracks allow you to keep pretty clean if you wanted to do them on your lunch break from work in Rotorua. The Jubilee track ends abruptly at the summit road. I followed the road for around 1/2 a kilometer to the summit. Unless you're after a bit of extra distance, you can skip this, as the summit is simply a large radio tower and there is no view over the tall, dead gorse.

Overall the tracks are nice because of location. The Mount Ngongotaha Nature Walk is informative and would be great for families. The Jubilee can be fun to run (I like bounding over roots), but lacks any reward for your effort.

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