Speedy's Reserve to the Fridge Library, Hill Road - Pareraho Forest Belmont/Kelson
Sunday 3rd April 2022
Location: The bottom of Major Drive, Kelson, Lower Hutt 5010
The Pareraho Forest is a surprisingly large reserve of native bush nestled between Kelson (to the North) and Belmont (to the South). We began our walk at Speedy's Reserve which is at the bottom of Kelson hill.
Dad had been to the area as a kid and was very dubious as to whether this was going to be worth our time. We soon discovered, to our great pleasure, that his memory only covered the first 10 minutes of our walk and boy was he wrong.
So, onto our walk: once we were out of the car we headed down to the stream where we found the start of the track (marked with orange triangles). Not far up the track we came across a little glen with a steppingstone bridge. Already the kids were excited, any walk with stream crossings gets double fun factor points.
We crossed the stream and came to a junction. One way pointed to Hill Road, the other to a picnic area.
We took a right towards the picnic area where we found a picnic table, a swing, a swimming hole and a special line with hand holds to cross the river. By now the kids were fizzing.
Our two would have been happy to spend the rest of the afternoon here but Mum had heard about a swimming hole with a waterfall so on we went.
We followed the orange markers over the stream and towards 132 Hill Road/The Fridge Library.
The path gradient increased from here as we headed up along the cliffside higher and higher above the river. We saw a slip which was a great opportunity to throw a rock or two then headed back into the bush.
The key here was to watch the orange triangles as the path has a couple of turn offs. It leads into an amazing silver fern grove which the kids thought was pretty special.
As we went through a little piwhakawhaka took an interest in us. The friendly little fellow followed us for a wee way then, obviously concerned we were stopping so much (to watch it), took up the lead for a while.
We then headed up into a punga stand with some of the biggest punga’s we've ever seen (and we're no rookies when it comes to the old punga's).
We wound up the ridgeline to Rocking Horse Hill (we certainly weren't expecting that!), it was a bit of a climb but well worthwhile.
We then cut left down the ridge side and over towards Hill Road.
Back down at the creek there were a couple of paths up to Hill Road and no sign of the waterfall *sadface*. There was a sign to the Fairy Grove and given it was only 5 minutes down the track, we though 'why not?'.
We were so glad that we did as it was another spectacular little glen, complete with a hammock, swing and changing curtain across the stream.
Well, we thought this was the pinnacle but the best was yet to come. We wandered around the glen and found another set of orange triangles, one pointing towards a track back up to 132 Hill Road and another pointing towards a Swimming Hole. Could it be? Was this it?
Excitement was building as we scampered down the 5-minute track. Twice over the stream (a couple of bonus points here for a start), not only were the rocks big and slippery some also had peculiar looking holes in them. Quick round the corner and there it was the pièce de résistance. A 4-5 meter waterfall, falling into what was quite a deep looking swimming hole at the base and a nicely sloped bank at the far side. Master 9 foamed at the mouth when he saw the way down was to abseil down the rocks along a climbing line... but was a bit disappointed that Dad had to go first for safety reasons.
It was quite spectacular but in the end, we decided not to go for a swim as it was too cold and we hadn’t come prepared. Mum and Dad have made solemn promises though that we shall return.
After a quick breather back in the glen, we headed up the steep path towards 132 Hill Road and the Fridge Library.
Once at Hill Road we took a left, wandering down the footpath a few hundred meters until we reached another entrance to the reserve (the entrance is by the lookout in the middle photo below). We could see our car from this lookout so knew we weren't far away.
This track popped us out just before the first picnic area.
Such an amazing adventure. The kids have proclaimed that this is the "best adventure walk we've ever been on". Can't wait to spend more time at the swimming holes and really looking forward to exploring this area more. Well done to all the wonderful people who look after this reserve, it feels so well cared for.
Age of Kids: 7yr and 9yrs
Walking Time: 1hr 40min walking and 2.5hrs all up.
Buggy Friendly: No this is a technical bush track
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult, the tracks quite steep and technical and there are lots of stream crossings. It's only 5km though so it's not quite the same as a full day walk. You could easily just complete part of it with little feet (such as the climb down from Hill Road to the first picnic spot).
Wet Feet: Yes, there are quite a few stream crossings with slippery rocks :)
Amenities: There are loads of seats, places to stop but no toilets.
Dogs: On Lead
Cellphone Reception: Yes