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Bell Rock and the summit of the Maungahaururu Ridge are supreme vantage points of the region, commanding overwhelming views in all directions. For a climb of approximately 200 vertical metres through the broken, rough country the rewards seem unjustified.
Boundary Stream Mainland Island is reached by turning into Matahoura Road at the Tutira Store on SH2. After 5.5. km turn left into Pohokura Road and Boundary Stream Mainland Island is a further 10 km. Check details at the start of each walk description as there are other entrances to the reserve.
The start of the track is signposted on Pohukura Road, 12 km from the junction with Matahoura Road (Bell Rock and Maungahaururu Range are signposted), or 8.2 km from the junction with Waitara Road (past the summit of the range).
Although not strictly a loop track, the splinter track at the summit of the Maungahaururu Range to Bell Rock, is scenically overwhelming. It is best to choose a clear day for this walk, because the extensive views are so impressive.
The first 50 minutes from the parking area climbs gradually through a low canopy forest, including matai (some enormous specimens), horopito and mountain holly. The shaded section exits the scenic reserve on the grassy tops of the Maungahaururu Range just above the Maungahaururu Saddle.
Take the track signposted left which follows the ridge crest. If either wind or rain are joining you on the ridge tops, then they will be your first greeting. The poled track weaves through the waltzing grass, crossing a stile, eventually arriving at Bell Rock and its accompanying wind-sculpted companions (30 minutes).
These exposed sandstone outcrops tower at the top of the ridge and have been smoothed to an even contour on the windward side by lashings of wind and rain. Don’t take a gung ho attitude to approaching the edge when its windy. It is a long way down. The banded layers on the outcrops make the wind whistle.
The return via the same track takes in the massive Mohaka Valley, bordered by the towering peaks of the Kawekas and Uruwera on the landward side. The change of rock type at the fault, which follows the valley, is evident by the dwindling of the dip and scarp topography, which rises from coastal Hawke’s Bay to the main divide.
Back at the junction, you can either return to the parking area via the same track, or venture along the Pohukura Road Ridge Track. This takes around the same time to return to the parking area, but takes a more open route along the ridgeline, following a grassed 4WD track. Views east to the entire sweep of Hawke Bay complement those of the tops. At Pohukura Road turn right to return to the carpark (10 minutes).
The Maungahaururu Range is a plateau of sandstone, siltstone an limestone, which has been uplifted, tilted and dissected. The steep escarpment is capped with outcrops and is deeply gorged by streams and slumps. It rises from 300 metres to over 1300 metres at Taraponui. It is wetter, cooler and cloudier than the surrounding lowland, experiencing up to 2000 mm of rain annually.
The interesting rock sculptures which line the crest of the Maungahaururu Ridge command the skyline like sentries. Geologically, their formation is a combination of processes. The interbedded layers of sandstone, limestone are muds were deposited in a deep sea basin millions of years ago. They were consequently uplifted above sea level through tectonic processes, then buckled and folded to form a tilted slab, exposing the end grain of the strata. This left the less resistant face of the rocks open to the erosive powers of water and wind, which carve out the huge basins (dips) between the ridges (scarps).
The rock formations along the ridge crest, like Bell Rock, are the more resistant caps of the rock layer, which are moulded by their harsh environment into rounded, smoothed blocks.
According to one Maori legend, Maungahaururu means ‘rumbling mountain’. When the Takitimu canoe voyaged up the east coast on its quest for greenstone, a high inland range was seen by the crew. The tohunga (high priest) cast a papamua (wooden bird carving), which metamorphosed into the form of a bird and took flight to the summit of the range. A rumbling sound was heard when the large population of birds on the range were frightened.
North Island ▷ Hawkes Bay ▷ Tutira
Lovely hike! Well worth driving 12 km gravelroad for. First is a pretty steep climb through the bush, with lots of birds around. When you get to the open it's up and down some hilltops until you're at Bell Rock. Hold on to your hats, because the rock formations are absolutely amazing, and it is also quite (very) windy. The view of the nearby mountain range is stunning as well. The track is pretty well signposted, though on your way back there are no more posts. Just follow the 4wd tracks and the path.
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Wonderful track starting uphill in the bush and culminating on a rock mountain face with spectacular views of the Kaweka Ranges like I have never seen before!
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Not one that many people walk - but definitely worth it. Great views of Hawke's Bay Ranges and Mt Doom on a clear day.
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Easy/medium fitness walk. Wonderful view of the Mohaka Valley at the bell shaped rocks at the end of the track. 3-4 hour walk.
A great walk through natural bush and then open country. Easy 3hrs return.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍