The Puhoi Track isn’t particularly intrepid but is a wonderful experience of New Zealand native bush and birdlife, less than 45 minutes north of Auckland an ideal ‘first time out’ on Te Araroa for those living in the big smoke.
Enter the track opposite Remiger Road and after crossing the swingbridge the route begins with a steady uphill trek then steps up onto the ridge, where you’ll encounter the first sighting of the splendid kauri tree. More than likely, a couple of friendly fantails/piwakawaka will also say hello as the track continues to climb to its highest point.
From there, meander downhill through clear native bush with mature puriri and totara commanding the forest. Reaching a small footbridge if you’ve approached quietly look up to see if you get a glimpse of the resident morepork/ruru that keeps watch.
The track continues through pine forest with occasional glimpses out into the valley. You reach another climb up steps, but hang in there, this will be your last climb for the day. At the top you again head through native bush and soon reach another close encounter with a number of kauri trees as well as stunning young forest.
Exiting the forest the track crosses farmland, with Puhoi in all its Bohemian glory standing out below. Another short bush section leads the track to join the Puhoi Lookout Loop Walk where there is a choice head left/ east for a gentler descent through the trees, or right/southwest to come down past the Arthur Dunn Memorial Lookout (though this is fairly steep and can be slippery at times).
The historic Puhoi Pub is a great spot to ‘debrief’ your walk, otherwise the Puhoi General Store, Puhoi Cottage Tearooms and Puhoi Valley Cheese Factory Café all have coffee and treats for all tastes.
A reasonable fitness is required to tackle the two uphills, and although the track is well formed underfoot, do wear good shoes and take care as it’s a little slippery when wet.
You’ll find plenty of parking in the Puhoi Domain turn right opposite the Puhoi Pub. A bit of organising may be needed to get to the far end of the track in time it is hoped a local shuttle service will grow.