When you need a great walk along a fantastic river or you are into free climbing the Mangaokewa Reserve may be just for you, located just south of Te Kuiti in the southern Waikato, this walk is a mix of river side, stunning native bush, water falls and open farmland.
The Valley entrance is off State Hwy thirty, a few kms south out of Te kuiti, drive under the Waiteti Viaduct and down a short winding road, the reserve area parking is quite substantial as there are berths here for parking self contained campers, there are no amenities in the reserve however.
Over the small swing bridge and turn right, a short distance along there is a fork in the trail turning left and a very short distance again there is a small track on the right that heads straight up the steep slop this takes you to the free climbing area, from the car park you can see the cliff face high up in the tree canopy and this cliff runs parallel to the Mangaokewa River in both directions.
Back on the main trail turning left takes you back towards Te Kuiti and follows the river, and turning right takes you upstream into the valley for the loop walk which follows the left bank up to another small swing bridge and loops back to the car park down the right hand side of the river bank.
The walk is mostly through stunning native bush and the canopy blocks out most of the light, the first point of interest is the cascades on a short deviation off the main track, the cascades flow down the rock face high up and through the thick bush and down to the river, the second point of interest is the main waterfall, this is on the main track to the left around thirty five minutes walk from the car park.
At around the fifty minute mark you will arrive at the second swing bridge and over the bridge, the valley floor opens up to a stunning wide area the trail here carries on up the valley for around five more hours or you can return back on the loop walk, climbing up the steep rocky hillside you get a fantastic view of the valley and the native bush that follows the Mangaokewa River.
The left hand track heading up stream from the car park is fairly easy going apart from a few sections that are muddy and lined with tree roots, the return track down stream however is a little more difficult, the first section for around fifteen minutes or so is narrow, steep, rocky and filled with tree roots, however once you are through this first section the going is easy, there are no features here apart from the difficult first section the return walk is around two hrs.