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The lovely Centennial Track

Posted by SC Comments Off on The lovely Centennial Track

One of the most beautiful of Waitakere walks is the Centennial Track which runs from Anawhata Road to join up with the Piha Valley Track or Home Track near Piha.

Start at Anawhata Road about 2 kms along on the left from the turn-off with Piha Road. The Centennial Track entrance is just opposite the Cutty Grass Track that runs from Anawhata Road through to the Scenic Drive.

You can take a little detour at the start of the Centennial Track to visit McElwain’s Lookout, which is a high wooden structure allowing great views over the Waitakeres from a height of 354 metres. McElwain was an early settler in the area, and Anawhata Road was once called McElwain’s Road.

At the start of the track, you enjoy immense views over valleys thick with regenerating kauri forest, with the Usshers’ Farm near Piha on the horizon in the distance to the south-west.

Enjoy the views before descending steeply round a rocky bluff dripping with water. A narrow flight of rough steps has been cut into the rock and you will be glad of the wooden rail to hang onto on one section.

In some places I descended inelegantly on my bum. The rocky bluff you are climbing around descends down to the Centennial Stream

The whole first section of the track has wet rocky walls along the right side, which occasionally coalesce as small streams. These all flow into the Centennial Stream which is in the valley to you left as you continue downwards.

There are unusual mosses but the most striking vegetation is the great swathes of parataniwha, a land hugging plant that loves the wet. It has long oval leaves which are a rich purple on the underside, and the whole effect is quite magical.

Other downward stretches of the track feature kauri, not as immense as the kauri on Kauri Grove Track but there are some good specimens. Make sure you have scrubbed and sprayed your boots with Trigene to prevent the spread of kauri die-back before embarking on this walk.

A good way down the track, about the half-way point, you reach the Black Rock Dam, the only remnant dam structure from the milling era in the Piha catchment. There was once a bushman’s camp here. You can still see some of the huge beams that made up the cill of the dam. This is a good place  to sit on the rocks and eat your lunch. The stream you are sitting by is the Piha Stream, which has joined with the Centennial Stream just above this dam.

TheBlack Rock dam is named for a high rocky bluff on the north side of the Piha Stream. The stream below the dam flows into the Piha Gorge, an experienced trampers’ challenge, as the stream descends through the high-walled gorge at this point.

However, we are going to continue on the Centennial Track which crosses the stream at the dam and then ascends steeply up the southern side to take you out of the valley. There are flights of steps here which take you up to the junction with the Piha Valley Track. You could stay on the Centennial Track at this point which continues through the high hills to the junction with the Home Track. You can then follow the Home Track downhill to Piha

However, I like to take the Piha Valley Track which follows the Piha Stream all the way down to Piha. So I turn right at this juncture. This is a  pleasant easy descent and much of it follows the course of the Piha Stream, as it eventually widens on reaching the valley flat.  You come out at the end of Glen Esk Road, next to Piha Mill Camp. The whole walk takes about an hour and a half, or two hours if you stop along the way.

Apart from the rockface at the top, and crossing the stream, it is an easy track, and both those can be done if you take it slowly and carefully.

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