Continuing on TRM’s reports on tourists planning to explore the less well-known tramping/biking tracks in the Kaimanawas. We appreciate this is supposed to provide a fishing update but some tourist guests often bring family, hungry to explore new local wilderness tracks. Moreso over the peak holiday period, These are not difficult or challenging “huff & puff” trails for hunters but are easy peasy family car accessible tracks more suitable for cruisy casual tourists and families recovering from excessive festivities over Christmas – aka TRM inmates.
Previous reports included the 1 hour Pillars of Hercules track (above) to SH1 and the shorter 30-minute Urchins Camp track. This Tree Trunk Gorge trail is longer and slightly more physical and even involves ankle deep wading streams.
For keen fit bikers, there is also a loop track of about 20km which includes the Pillars of Hercules track out to the main road SH1 (dodging trucks and camper vans!) for 2 km and back on the Tree Trunk Gorge access road. Warning – this involves some long up-hill climbs.
Based on TRM inmates’ reports, it is best tackled from the Tree Trunk Gorge southern end (Intersection on SH1 is 21 km from Turangi, then 7 km to cross Tongariro River gorge and another 500m to TT Gorge trail.) to weave to the finish at the Pillars of Hercules car park. (21 km from Turangi) Why? Tourists prefer more downhill gradients! Most of the track is very picturesque, well-formed and drained cut through mature native bush with surface varying from broken rocks to pumice to the delightful soft leaf carpet.
As mentioned above there are a couple of gentle wet crossings so a walking pole is helpful to avoid a dunking as the stones can be slippery.
The TT Gorge road and track were originally formed as a road to service the Tongariro Hydro Scheme in the 1970’s. Some of the cuttings are over three metres high to provide an easy gradient for construction traffic and since restricted only to trampers and mountain bikers. There are many other touristy photo features including lookout points over the upper Tongariro River.
The diagram at the top illustrates the vast scheme to divert water flows from heading south to redirect them north through tunnels and canals with a couple of power stations on the way to Lake Taupo. This redirected flow had the overall effect of increasing the volume in Lake Taupo by over 20% but to also spin the turbines on eight more power stations down the Waikato River. Turangi tourists now benefit by all the access trails they left behind.
At the eastern limit of Tree Trunk Gorge Road a huge pipe is exposed carrying the flow from Lake Moawhango near Waiouru via tunnels to the underground Rangipo power station.
For more information on these tracks contact SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed is the manager of tourist tracks in the Kaimanawas. She might not have biked them (yet?) but She does know which tracks get raved about) At TRM reception we also have maps of the epic BIG DAY OUT for bikers with a secret (i.e. probably illegal?) route to ride Tree Trunk Gorge back to TRM via remote bush tracks, stream crossings, wilderness roads, canals (speed section), pine forests, and finishing in style on the famous Tongariro River Trail.
A typical TRM inmates technical critical appreciation report of the loop bike trail on Pillars of Hercules Track to SH1 and back on Tree Trunk Gorge track and directions map for the epic BIG DAY OUT.