Rail Tunnel Loop + Windows Walk, Karangahake Gorge
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Location: Karangahake Gorge
Parking: Lots of parking at the beginning of the walk
Toilets: There are toilets right by the car park, as well as a picnic area
Dogs: Dogs on leash only
Shoes: Normal walking shoes are ok, we decided to go up to the waterfall and this was very muddy as it had been raining
Date Walked: 16.09.2017
Weather Conditions: sunny, rainy, cold, hot (typical NZ weather!!)
Distance: Total distance I walked was 16.9km, as we explored most of the tracks. Around 5km. Tunnel loop is 2.5km and the Windows Walk is 2.5km. We did a lot more distance as we also did the walk to Waikino which you can read about here.
Time Required: its a great place to spend the majority of the day, as there is a lot to look at
Final Rating: ★★★★★
Getting to the Karangahake gorge is really easy, on Google maps you can simply type it in and it will take you straight there. As we were coming from the North through Paeroa, its around 7km from Paeroa town.
IN MY BACKPACK
In my backpack I had two bottles of water, a jumper, my rain jacket and a camera. As the weather was so unpredictable it went from hot, to raining to cold to hot again. I would also recommend a torch for the Windows Walk portion, as the tunnels are very dark. We only had our phones which was enough for the two of us.
I will just start off by saying this is probably one of my favourite walks, its not difficult like a lot of other walks in NZ and there is so much to look at. I have done this walk quite a number of times and its certainly nothing you’d get sick of.
Like all of the walks based around Karangahake Gorge, the walk starts off in the carpark.
NOTE: You can also just do the Window Walk straight from the carpark. Head over the main bridge and then turn left to go over the second bridge. You will see some old ruins, from here turn right up the staircase. And its the first set of stairs on your left. There are signs so it is easy to find. The walk I did below included the tunnel making it a bit longer and more to see.
Cross over the main bridge from the carpark and head to your right down the bush track along the side of the river. Continue up the track until you come to the small incline bridge that takes you up to the main bridge which crosses over SH2. This is a beautiful view from up on the bridge of the river and surrounding mountains.
After the bridge you will find yourself at the entrance of the 1km tunnel, which is fully lit so no torch is required for this part of the walk!
At the end of the tunnel, you find yourself at another bridge which again crosses you back over SH2 and the river. At the fork in the path turn right. There is a gate which is open and allows you to go down the path on the side of the river. I assume it is closed over night for safety reasons.
This part of the walk is beautiful, you’re walking right in the gorge and is unlike any walk I’ve been on.
At the end of the path, you come out to some more ruins and another intersection where you can choose to go back over a bridge to the main bridge which takes you back to the carpark, or to the left and up some stairs to the Windows Walk. There are also other walks up the stairs, however due to bad weather / slips these were closed.
More stairs up to the start of the tunnels, and some more ruins with information boards which are really interesting. There is some amazing history here.
These tunnels are not lit, so a torch or phone is necessary, the ceilings are high enough to stand up comfortably, and there are ‘Windows’ or cut outs in the rock for lovely views of the gorge below. At the end of the tunnels there are some stairs down to a longer walk, which we didn’t do this time as we had already done the walk to Waikino.
Return back to the carpark by heading back through the tunnels, down the stairs and at the bottom of the stairs turn right. You will find yourself back at the ruins with a bridge to your left which takes you over to the main bridge to the carpark.
Overall, as I said above this is my favourite walk as its easy, heaps to see and doesn’t take too much planning to go and do. Would highly recommend if you’re in the area as you don’t need to go for the longest walk to see some really cool sights.