Pokeka        alternative access

home local  maps
Humphries hut
Omaru river
Otaraheke hut
Pokeka alternative route


Mangawhio lakes
Maumahaki reserve
Pungarehu rapids
Rotokohu wetlands
Waitahinga trails
Waitotara R.mouth
Waverley inland
Waverley beaches


What's up DoC?
Peoples stories




  The track to Pokeka at present leaves the end of the Waitotara valley road, and follows a paper road through farmland to a forest boundary some 5 - 6 km away. Unfortunately the access at the road end is controlled by the farmer who runs a tourist hunting venture. Because of this he denies all access to hunters, and denies access to trampers when he has "clients". Yet the DoC publication giving the Recreation Opportunities Review decisions of this area state that this "landowner has advised that existing access over his land remains available" and give this as one reason for not relocating this track to our Conservation estate adjacent. The other reason for not relocating the track is that it "would be seen as provocative to the adjacent landowner who has concerns about hunters trespassing / poaching and stock disturbance." (p 36).
DoC Wanganui acknowledges that this farmer grazes DoC land, including the ecologically valuable Rotokohu wetlands, with no licence. He has been allowed to farm deer on the boundary of a forest that, until recently, had not been invaded by this particular pest. Yet DoC don't want to provoke him by removing Pokeka track from his land (it is a public road!) and relocating it in adjacent DoC land!!! Here is a chance to have hunters control the deer that invade this part of the forest and DoC is not interested. One has to wonder what is going on here.

Therefore it was perhaps not surprising that in the original Recreation Opportunities proposals, DoC decided to close this track. With the huge public submissions against this proposal though, the next decision was to simply not maintain the track. (It hasn't been maintained for ages anyway!) Because this was such a contentious issue, the final decision was to seek community maintenance. Sounds fine. But newspaper articles since the release of the final proposals have DoC Whanganui making it quite clear that without community maintenance, the track AND Pokeka hut AND Maungarau hut would go, and no shelters would be built to replace them. The official DoC publication does not state this requirement for the huts. Again, what is going on here?
DoC is disinterested in Wanganui Tramping Club's alternative proposal to bridge the river near the road end and provide this route to Pokeka, through totally DoC land. It would be undoubtedly the most scenic track in the whole of this forest. (see photos). A number of other opportunities would result from this bridge that do not result if the bridge is built at Kapara which is the DoC intention. (we wonder if this bridge only happens if the community maintains the tracks too?)
Other opportunities would be:

  • a very scenic loop track could go from the road end to the Rotokohu wetlands and back along the river as a Day visitor experience.
  • The Pungarehu rapids and lower Pokeka river are a scenic road end attraction when viewed from the other side of the Waitotara river to the road. A bridge would give this access.
  • A ridge top track to Trains hut would provide an unmarked alternative and more scenic route for remote seekers than is provided by the farm track that is the present access.
  • It overcomes the access issue given for the reason to close Pokeka track.

    All these photos are taken from DoC land on the alternative track proposed.

See local maps link

Alternative proposal for Pokeka / Trains / Pungarehu area
The Wanganui Tramping Club put forward this alternative proposal for this area which would solve access problems of the area and increase opportunities available from the road end.

 Access proposal for the Pokeka track.
We propose a bridge across the Waitotara river just upstream from the confluence of the Pokeka stream. This will create an all weather access to the southern reach of the forest directly from a formed and maintained road.
The bridge provides:
1.   day visitor site at the rapids
2.  A day tramp opportunity to the Rotokohu Wetlands for Trampers, Hunters, "Forest and Bird" type enthusiasts
3.  Increased appreciation of the wetlands which canlead to increased protection for the wetlands
4.  An improved B.C.A. tramp to Pokeka
5.  Improved access to the Maungarau ridge R.S. routes
6.  A direct Pokeka hut to Trains hut link (7.5 hours) to complete an RS loop from the Matemateaonga Walkway.
7.  Access to an unmarked ridge for the creation of a loop to Trains hut for hunters and experienced trampers
8.  Access by an unmarked ridge to midway on the Whatiwhati track for experienced hunters and trampers to go to Trains, or the remote rapids and waterfalls of the Omaru and directly on to Tahupo.
9.   A solution to the legal access problems
10.  Recreational hunting of;  Goats, Pigs, Deer (priority), Possums (commercial control).
11.  Leading to satisfactory control of; Pigs,Deer,Goats (with coordination)
12.  useful for Departmental pest control

useful for Departmental field operations 

All these activities and opportunities are endorsed and many are prioritised by the Wanganui Conservation Management Strategy and central policy as demonstrated by the sample of policy references presented.

We believe the bridge site to be viable, no more of an engineering challenge than the proposed Trains bridge.
We believe the costing to be comparable to the proposed Omaru bridge even though the Omaru site is probably smaller. This is because a remote bridge costs more to construct. Note Humphries hut costings; "To include the cost of helicopter flying, etc. a multiplier of 2.3 is applied, " . Our proposed bridge has vehicular access within metres of it and so wouldn’t qualify for this surcharge.
The scenic Pungerahu rapids just below this bridge site along with the spectacular boulder strewn Pokeka river mouth across the river are an excellent Day Visitor site but the simple tracking required would need to be sympathetically done as this is a special place to the locals.
The track required to connect the bridge to the existing Pokeka Track would skirt the western edge of the private land. The majority of the track is on flat to rolling pasture through scattered trees and is extremely attractive. Most of the rest is in flat to rolling forested land leaving only the first short section presenting any sort of a challenge as it ascends the 120 metre foothill out of the river. All track is on public estate.

Approximately 2 km from the river is the Rotokohu wetlands which are a DoC " Recommended area for Protection " (R.A.P) and are considered " Best example of poor draining silt plains in the Matemateaonga Ecological District being undrained with intact native vegetation." by the Taranaki Regional Council. This would be a tremendous day tramp opportunity. This area would have to be one of the most scenic areas in the Matemateaonga region. In fact in 1881 one of the first surveyors in the area, George Allen described it in a report on the district as one of the most beautiful places he had seen.
The track would continue through the wetland on the western side of the stream on flat land until the Pokeka entered the Forest proper. The stream would then crossed requiring a bridge that has already been in part paid for by the Wanganui Tramping Club.
Staying on the western side until now avoids any confusion over private land and also has the significant advantage of better access to the forest adjoining the route.

The Rotokohu Scenic Reserve and associated wetland have had a long history of goat depredation and this along with unlicensed grazing has created the pastoral forest margin within the public estate. And now with a wild population of fallow deer being actively encouraged in the area the onslaught on the forest will only increase.  Note that the C.M.S. Land Inventory 70261, Rotokohu Scenic Reserve dated 1/06/94 does not mention fallow deer as a pest. The newly established deer population requires priority control. By merely supplying this bridged access a good level of pest control would naturally be achieved.
Being partway up the Trains track, our proposed bridge would create a credible Pokeka -Trains link of about 7.5 hours for anyone walking a loop track from either end of the Walkway (eg Kohi – Puteore – Tahupo - Trains – Pokeka – Maungarau – Otaraheke – Omaru - Kohi)

This bridge along with the Proposed Kurapete track are final links to complete what is already an ideally integrated series of diverse opportunities that introduce and transverse the Matemateoangas namely:
Four Day tramper opportunities, one in the southern and three in the western accesses.
Four "back country adventure" opportunities including the Walkway
Two "remote experience" routes
These BCA –RE’s combining to form a 7 day loop accessible from 3 different points of entry (Kohi, Wanganui River or Waitotara valley) and varying using the 3 networking tracks.
The addition of the BCA/ day visitor loop by clearing the Kurapete track.
The retention of vast areas of wilderness not serviced by hut or track. (Mangaio stream, Western Matemateonga range, north of Walkway, etc)



a kahikatea grove on the proposed route

an alternative track to Trains along this ridge


"farmed" Deer - on DoC land

a decent sized kahikatea tree

DoC land providing free grazing so why not an easier access too?

another view

Pokeka mouth