Rata Ridge Circuit - Wainuiōmata
Updated: Mar 14
Saturday 5th March 2022
Location: 9 Fraser Street, Wainuiōmata, Lower Hutt, 5014
The Rata Ridge Track starts on the Wainuiōmata side of the East Habour Regional Park. We started at the Fraser Street entrance, taking the gravel zig zag track up. The track quickly turns into a narrow firebreak weaving through beautiful manuka. It's a bit of a climb up, but nothing that triggered winging from our two.
About halfway up the ridgeline we reached the bush track and were rewarded with a stunning beech and rata forest. The shade was brilliant and the children loved the towering trees, we even found a majestic mushroom which everyone had to stop and admire.
The tracks are all well marked so all you need to do is follow the signposts to Mt Lowry.
Mt Lowry is a great stopping point as it has a map to study and a seat (although the view is a tad disappointing, as mentioned in our Main Ridge Track post :P).
From Mt Lowry you take the the Main Ridge Track north towards Wainuiōmata hill road. It's a little technical but our kids love running along technical trails (jumping off ledges, scrambling up hills and the odd catastrophic fall which gives everyone a chance to stop and catch their breath).
The Main Ridge track pops you out on a firebreak which takes you down to Wainuiōmata hill road - the views up there are pretty good, especially on a blue sky day, even our dog was impressed! (much better than Mt Lowry!)
We then scooted over the foot bridge and headed up the ECNZ Plylon Track (otherwise known as the "Firebreak").
A bit of caution is needed as the track is used heavily by mountain bikers, in fact the whole area is a popular mountain bike park. Stick to the left and keep your ears open as they can fly around corners.
Up, up, up you go and when you think there is no more up, there is. This was the bit that caught us out. We were only now realising just how long it was going to take us to get back to the car. We decided to continue on and take the Konini firebreak exit. We had learned the hard way the dangers of trying to walk down a mountain bike track (check out our post on Bullrun) and Konini seemed the safest bet, also we'd gone all that way already, may as well finish.
The track is sign posted re the images below (there are lots of different paths so keep your eyes peeled).
What goes up must come down, so down, down, down we went. Konini is a steep clay track and looked like it would be quite slippery if it was wet. It was dry for us which was great as we were starting to get tired, a couple of us ended up on our bottoms anyway :P.
We walked past the water tower and then another 5 min down a gravel access road to the valley floor.
From there it was just a quick slip past the anti-mandate protestors camped outside the Marae, a boost across the Parkway sports fields, a 5 min play in the playground (no idea where that energy came from) and then a slide around the Wainui shopping Centre and back to the car for ice cream, dinner and bed.
We thought we were in for a relatively easy 3 hour afternoon cruise around the hills of Wainuiōmata, reality was a little different. Admittedly we did finish this in about 3.5 hours, although that took quite a bit of boosting to achieve. Others on All Trails took more like 5 hours which we think is probably more realistic...everyone hurt on Sunday.
(Our All Trails Map Below - we use the free version and love it)
Great walk though - lots of variety and would love to do it again! Go Wainuiōmata :)
Age of Kids: 7yr and 9yrs
Walking Time: We took 3.5 hours (but we ran a bit and barely stopped. It'd be more realistic to plan for 4-5 hours)
Distance: 13.7 km
Buggy Friendly: No
Difficulty: Difficult (there are some steep/slippery bits and it includes a 525m climb)
Wet Feet: No
Amenities: There are a few seats and picnic tables
Dogs: Yes, on lead only as they regularly drop poison
Cellphone Reception: Yes (although they say it's patchy we didn't notice losing any cell reception)
Things to be aware of: Watch out for mountain bikes. There are also quite a few steep and slippery sections so bring good shoes.