Just South of Auckland lie the Hunua Ranges a scenic reserve of forests and reservoirs. Easily accessible from Auckland in just over an hour they make for an excellent day trip. After a week of fairly horrendous rain we were lucky enough to have a sunny weekend and as such decided a trip to the ranges would be a good use of this slim weather window.
The main attraction of the ranges is the 30m plunge of the Hunua Falls, the carpark is literally 50m from the edge of the falls plunge pool so attracts even the most inactive of visitors.
The 30m high falls plunge another 17m under the water making swimming unwise and on this particular day after the rain in the week the falls were in particularly full flow. The huge torrent of water plunging down the cliff face and into the pool made for an impressive sight and accompanying spray made for a damp visit too!
Crossing over the bridge downstream for views up the river and around the other side of the pool was even wetter, we got soaked by spray as we got a closer look at the falls from the side.
Heading off the track from the bridge is the Cossey Dam track, a decent three hour loop hike through the temperate forest to, you guessed it, Cossey Dam. The first half of the walk is largely uphill gaining almost 300m in elevation at the highest point. Passing through the forest was very pretty and the forest has a number of Kauri trees as well as a multitude of others. Reaching the top elevation there is a ridge with an impressive lookout back down over the forest with the reservoir in the distance, as a rainy mist had descended upon us this made for an eerie and ethereal scenery. Continuing to follow the undulating ridge we then began our descent to the Cossey Dam and Reservoir.
The Cossey reservoir supplies Auckland with a large percentage of its mains water, following heavy rain in the summer a water restriction was placed on Auckland as the water from Hunua was full of silt and couldn’t be filtered quickly enough. Fortunately everyone managed to cut down there water usage to avoid having to boil it every day!
From the dam the Cossey Gorge track winds a picturesque route back down to the carpark. Meandering through the gorge are small tributaries, cascading down towards the falls. There were perfectly formed little waterfalls all around us, and at the bottom of the gorge a bigger river shrouded in mist and with convenient rocks to use as stepping stones. This still made for a tricky crossing though as the stones were all different sizes and spacing’s apart, still we made it without falling in! The final part of the track takes in an undulating wooded trail leading back to the bridge and the falls car park and hence the end of another adventure.
Even though just a day trip, the ranges being so close to Auckland makes for a perfect escape from the city, out into the wilderness. One we will certainly be back to explore some more.