Bell Rock Loop Track sits an hour north of Napier in the Hawkes Bay. Isolated and rugged, this is a part of New Zealand that is often forgotten about.
Time 3 hour round trip
Access The start of the track is around an hour north of Napier. Follow State Highway 2 to Tutira, turn left at Tutira onto Matahorua Road then left onto Pohokura Road.
Difficulty while there are a few uphills, the track is not difficult to follow and is well maintained
How to get there
Bell Rock Loop Track sits down a dusty, narrow gravel road an hour north of Napier. The drive out is winding and beautifully picturesque. Look out for lake Tutira (you can’t miss it) on the way.
Drive to Tutira and turn down Matahorua Road then left onto Pohokura Road. Follow this road, be careful as it is a windy, narrow gravel road. You will eventually come to a sign for Boundary Stream Walks. Ignore this sign and carry on another couple of k’s to Bell Rock Loop Track.
There are other hikes in boundary stream area, however, none of these will take you to Bell Rock. For information on these hikes check out the Department of Conservation website.
Note: There isn’t much parking at the beginning of the track, you need to park on the side of the road which can get boggy.
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Walking up Bell Rock Loop Track
We took the track up the bush first. Straight up the hill, it was. The Bell Rock Loop Track is incredibly well-maintained, DOC (the Department of Conservation) have put in a lot of work. It has paid off as the birdsong was constant and enthusiastic the whole way through the bush.
There are little triangles of various colours pointing to tracks off the main track for DOC workers and volunteers. Stoat traps and poison baits are dotted along these tracks so make sure you stick to the orange triangles.
Along the way, we spotted various ‘Weta Apartments’ attached to tree trunks. These were long wooden houses that open up to clear plastic so you can view the weta inside. The first weta apartment was disappointing, only a spider resided in that one. The second apartment, however, had a big ole weta sleeping inside. A quick nosy was had then we shut the door to leave it be.
Back into the sunlight
After about half an hour we were back out into the blinding sunlight again. Dry farmland greeted us as we ambled up the farm track taking in the views stretching beyond.
It was a clear day with not a clown in the sky (when my 12-year-old was a wee tot he used to call clouds, clowns). I was a wee bit thankful we weren’t doing the loop in the height of summer. There isn’t much shade once you leave the trees.
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Out in the open
The track continues up the hill, mainly following the farm track. A couple of times we realised that after we had taken the long way around following the farm track, the walking track went up and over the slope. Ah well, less of a climb this way.
There were some amazing rock formations nestled in the side of the hill that reminded me a lot of when I used to hike in Dartmoor, England. Same old world feeling and utter rugged remoteness.
The stunning views called us to stop and admire them a few times.
To the right was the wrinkles of the land stretched as far as Mt Ruapehu. To the left, we could see the sea blending into the sky.
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After about 45 minutes from the junction, we rounded a corner and there sprawling in front of us lay the most breathtaking view. Below us sat the large rocks sitting on the cliff side. In front of us swept rolling hills stretching out to Mt Ruapehu on the horizon line.
I literally could do nothing but stop and stare for a good few minutes, unable to drag my eyes away from the sight.
There it was. The rock that looks like a bell. It is hard to picture the scale of it (look at the dot on the bell in the picture below. ‘Tis moi).
Another rock spends its days hanging out beside bell rock. They sit in companionable silence watching over the landscape. Honestly though, if there was anywhere to sit for eternity, this would be it. This rock towers over bell rock, protecting it almost.
We sat on this rock and just watched the landscape around us (whilst holding onto our bags. It was a tad windy) for a while. I wish we had thought ahead and bought a picnic along. It would make an epic picnic spot.
Bell rock was waiting to be sat on so what else could we do but sit on it?
It was a good sitting rock, providing ample seating, not entirely comfortable seating, but seating nonetheless.
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Back down Bell Rock Loop Track
Going down was much quicker. Isn’t that always the way though?
About 30 minutes after we left Bell Rock we ended up back at the junction again. Back through the bush or down the road?
We decided to carry on the loop on going down the farm track to the car instead of the bush. To be honest, if I did it again I would go back down through the bush again.
I got thoroughly bored going down the vehicle track. Granted there are some spectacular views, but it was saaame view the entire way down.
I have a much too short attention span for that nonsense.
It took about 45 minutes to get to the main road from the junction. By main road, I, of course, mean gravel track that was slightly more defined than the farm track. Another 10 minutes and we were back in the car again.
As we were meandering down the road a local farmer stopped and asked if we needed a ride. We declined (you can’t hitch a ride on a hike!). Luckily we did as literally around the corner there was the car waiting. It would have looked a bit silly if we had accepted then 20m later have to say, “Right, this is us, thanks for the ride!”
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Bell Rock Loop Track, though isolated and not easy to get to, is still fairly popular. There was another group already at the rock when we got there, one arrived while we were there and another group arrived just as we were leaving.
This would be a great hike for families, just make sure to keep a close eye on children as there are a number of steep drops and the rocks can be slippery after rain. The view is awe-inspiring and while there are climbs, they aren’t too steep or long.
A perfect hike to appreciate this beautiful country.
For more photos of Bell Rock Loop Track, check out that Kiwi Hiker’s Facebook Album.
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