One of my favourite places to play is the Puketui Valley Broken Hills walking tracks. The turn off is pretty much opposite the turnoff to Pauanui on State Highway 25. Morrison Road turns into Puketui Valley Rd, which takes you past the Te Timatanga earthship, and onto a scenic stretch of gravel road. Don’t mistake this road for Puketui Rd, which comes off the Kopu-Hikuai Rd, State Highway 25a.
Make sure you let someone know where you are going and what time you are due back, as there is no cell phone coverage once you’re in there!
Drive across an amazing bridge and you will soon see the tranquil DOC Campsite at Broken Hills (which unfortunately does not allow dogs.) The Broken Hills tracks do tho, so I took my boy, Doug along for the day.
Further up the road you will come to two different track entry points, and roadside parking. The first offers two short walks, both easy walks and are child friendly.
At the end of Puketui Valley Rd is the entrance to an array of tracks of varying distances.
I like to photograph the maps if I didn’t already have one, so that once in there I can look back on my phone to see which way to go, or what it is I’ve stumbled upon.
I had about 2 hours to play, so decided on the Collins Track, taking the Water Race Tracks.
As with most New Zealand bush walks, the protection of the native Kauri tree is of great importance. Kauri Dieback refers to the disease Phytophthora agathidicida. The spores from this fungus-like disease live in soil and are spread with soil movement. That is why they ask you to clean your gear after venturing into one of New Zealand’s native forests and to keep to the tracks, staying off the Kauri roots. These tracks however did not have the sanitising stations which I’ve seen at other bush walks.
In the 1900’s Broken Hills was a site for Gold Mining. This type of alluvial mining was tough. It involved digging and sifting through mud, sand and gravel using shovels sieves, or even bare hands. Batteries were built to process the quartz found. The quartz was battered into powder by massive stamper which released the gold particles so they could be chemically recovered using cyanide. This process required water and that’s what the race tracks were built for. To ensure a good supply to the plant.
Gold mining in New Zealand
The track lead through three short tunnels. If you are afraid of the dark, or not keen on weta , I advise you to clamber over the tunnels following the narrow paths!
I took the 3rd Water Race Track, and added an extra 20min to my trek, an awful lot steps but some pretty amazing views!
Then, the descent, which took me past some pretty scary looking old mines and thankfully back to the double tunnels! Oh yay, wetas again!
By that stage I was well ready for some open space and enjoyed the fresh scenic walk along the rivers edge….
back to the short bridge I crossed at the start.
But this time I notice a little path just to the right of the Water Race Track. I had a quick peek and saw a cute little stream, and Doug had a drink. The underside of the bridge was pretty cool too. Even if you aren’t into big bush walks, at least park at the end of the Puketui Valley Rd and walk 10min to this little bridge, check out the waterfall, and then 5 min further up are the amazing river views. You won’t be disappointed.
For more information on New Zealand tourist attractions and walks
call in and see the volunteers at
Tairua Information Centre
223 Main Rd Tairua, (07) 864 7580
Find them on Facebook too!