MT Donlad Mclean is a fantastic destination located in the Waitakere Ranges west of Auckland CBD, the Waitakere Ranges Regional park is a large area of beautiful native bush including the massive Kauri tree which was logged to just about extinction back in the early settler days, the area is a popular destination for tramping and day walks.
One of the many fantastic walks located around the area of MT Donald Mclean is the Fletcher Track, to access this walk you need to start at the Karamatura Valley carpark and walk along the access track next to the river, you will see the track entrance around five minutes from the carpark on your left and you cannot really miss it as the track looks very intimidating with deep ruts and big holes located right at the track start.
This walk is not suited to inexperienced walkers and you need a bit of fitness to attempt the walk to the summit of MT Donald Mclean, the track starts with a moderate accent up a clay track riddled with holes and ruts,, in the wet you need good tramping boots as this clay is extremely slippery, around 15 minutes of walking the steep clay track it gives way to an easy gradient and firm footing through some great native trees.
The easy part does not last long though and the track steepens to a relentless climb through tree roots and fallen trees until the track just seems to stop at a cliff face, we climbed this extremely steep wall of tree roots, fallen trees and lose dirt and scrambled over to the top, only to see the track on the left hand side you cannot see it from below only from the top, there is a short track cut through the bush to the left on top of the bluff and a very delicate walk out onto the dirt platform offers a fantastic view of Huia and the Manukau heads way down below.
From the bluff and look out the track winds endlessly up a narrow ridge line for around thirty minutes, to the right you get glimpses of the Karamatura Vally down below, there is a vertical drop only metres from the track edge here so caution needs to be taken with any children, eventually you arrive at the clay again and a tough walk along a side of a steep cliff there are some fantastic views across to the Southern Manukau heads here and a great place to rest the legs.
This clay track just about marks the end of the relentless climbing and you start heading back down into a valley, from here the walk is easy there are a few small climbs left but not as hard as where you just come through, one and a half hours later from Karamatura Valley you will finally arrive at the intersection with the Donald Mclean track, when returning back to the Karamatura Valley there are two options, you can return the way you walked in on the Fletcher track or carry on to the Donald Mclean carpark at the summit around twenty more minutes walking, then walk down the Whatipu road to Huia how ever this is the long way back but on a graded road and all downhill.
MT Donald Mclean