With three whole days off work looming in front of me, it felt like the grown-up version of Christmas was here. I decided to make the most of my three precious days and head up to my favourite place. The Ruahine Range. No. 1 Line Track was awaitin’.
Difficulty The track is well defined and easy to follow. However, it is fairly steep in places and boggy towards the top.
Time 2.5 hours of walking time, including the side tracks.
Access From Pohangina (in the Manawatu region) head down No. 1 Line until the end where you reach the carpark, No. 1 Line Track heads straight up into the bush from the carpark.
Fitness You will need to be relatively fit as it is uphill nearly the whole way to the lookout.
Matanganui Stream Track
If you are after a quick warm up, this would be it. While it is only 10 minutes to Matanganui Stream, it was where I realised I had left my much-needed trekking pole in the car. Luckily the stream track starts at the entrance of No. 1 Line Track so it was easily accessible on the way back.
The track dips down steeply and quickly to the stream. Expect to clamber over and down tree roots which have cemented themselves in the track. The track has long been claimed back in parts, making the trek down to the stream difficult at times having to navigate natural, often slippery, steps and picking your way through roots inching across the trail.
Matanganui Stream is a pleasant surprise waiting at the foot of the hill, lazily meandering through the rocks and winding its way down the hill. A lovely pondering place.
The hike back up again is where you get your warm up in. There is not much walking up the hill. It is more pulling yourself up using branches and roots for footing and handholds.
The Giant Rimu
Once I joined back up with No. 1 Line Track again I had a quick detour to my car to pick up the trekking pole that could have come in handy and headed back into the forest again. The track is wide, well-maintained and gradually inclines here.
A few minutes in and you come across the giant rimu tree. It stands tall, dwarfing the other trees, leaving them sitting in its shadow. The giant rimu is visible from the main track but make sure you take the quick 20m path and stand under its shelter.
The trunk of the rimu is massive. I stretched my arms out as far as they could reach but they were still not long enough to go around even half of the trunk.
Trig Track Loop
After a couple more minutes after leaving the rimu, you reach a fork in the track. You can do the Trig Track Loop or carry on up No. 1 Line Track. I chose to take the quick detour to Trig Track Loop. To be honest, it felt like a bit of a letdown. All you get to is a seat looking over some farmland. It’s not particularly spectacular, if you moved the trees out of the way, the carpark is within eyesight. The view is much the same as it is from where you start as the track backs up on itself.
Nevermind. It got me some extra steps to go towards my step count for the day so it wasn’t all bad. Trig Track Loop doesn’t take terribly long and isn’t arduous so at the end of the day, it didn’t really take much of an effort to get there. Plus, you get to see the giant rata (what’s up with all the giants?) with its armour to stop those pesky possums from climbing up and destroying the tree. It looks like two trees but this rata is just being greedy by having a double trunk.
Up No. 1 Line Track
With all the detours out the way, it was time to head back to No. 1 Line Track.
No. 1 Line Track gets serious from here on out. Up the hill you go with a few flats to catch your breath. But then it’s back up again. The track is easy to follow, no getting lost for this chick (this time). However, (isn’t there always a however with the Ruahine Range?!) it does get very steep at times as you find that you are often using the tree roots as a ladder to pull yourself up the inclines.
The views over the farmland, out to the nearest towns (I want to say Feilding?) and across the valley are quite spectacular. More so than from the seat at Trig Track Loop. These views are different from the carpark views. More than once I found myself stopping simply to admire the view (and not just for a quick breather).
No. 1 Line Track gets quite boggy towards the top. The track is in shade and we have had a lot of rain lately so the water has sat on the trail and turned the track into lovely thick squelchy mud.
Approximately an hour after leaving the fork the lookout is in sight. I got there just in time to see the cloud rolling over. Bloody typical huh? Nonetheless, it was still rather lovely sitting up the top feeling quite satisfied with this first day of Christmas.
Back down again
As I didn’t do any of the detours and it was pretty much all downhill, it took me about 45 minutes to get back to my car again from the lookout.
All that lovely thick squelchy mud made for a precarious climb down at times. Especially difficult for the less graceful and perpetually clumsy hiker. Needless to say, I got to the car with the odd spot of mud on my tights. Mostly in the rear region.
If you want a shorter hike that still packs a punch, No. 1 Line Track is for you. At approximately 3 hours including stops, detours and backtracks it is a great length if you didn’t want to do a full day but still challenging enough to feel like you earned that view at the top.
For more photos check out my No. 1 Line Track Facebook photo album.
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