My Favourite Walk: Coromandel’s Long Bay Kauri Loop walk
The 40-minute Long Bay Kauri Loop walk on the Coromandel Peninsula also takes in the Tucks Bay Coastal Track. This walk is one of my usual morning routes. The walk’s beginning and ending is located within the Long Bay campground which is some three kilometres west of the Coromandel township.
There is a public carpark along the shore line which is clearly marked. A sign beyond the carpark warns the public that the area ahead is designated for official campers. Although the sign at the entrance to the campsite says to report to the office, walkers are not required to do so.
The loop track begins with either the coastal walk to Tucks Bay or with the bush track, which winds uphill through nikau, tree ferns, karaka, puriri, rewarewa groves of young kauri, passes a 330-year-old kauri, and other indigenous shrubs and trees.
There are a number of us who walk this track most mornings, and although my walk is solitary, I usually meet someone I know, accompanied by their dog or dogs. Dogs are not allowed on the kauri bush walk, but are welcome on the road and the coastal walk. During summer, dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
To begin at the bush track end, look for the fish cleaning area behind which is the boot cleaning station. Once my boots are clean, I begin the gradual uphill climb. Occasionally, I stop to admire the trees, listen to the stillness and the bird song.
If there has been rain, the small creek will be running and provides a background melody to the birds. After five minutes, the first grove of young kauri, or rickers – so called because of their use as spas on sailing ships – is reached.
Here a wooden board walk has been created to prevent damage to the surface dwelling kauri roots. The track continues to climb gently, crosses the small stream then ahead, to the left, is the ancient kauri. It stands solidly and majestically among the many young trees with nikau and tree ferns providing a green court.
Walkers can no longer hug this king, as a wooden platform and barrier has been erected to protect the tree. In the quiet of the morning, I lean against the
barrier and wish the tree health and longevity.
A few minutes later, I reach the highest point of the walk and the second grove of young kauri. Last year, a wooden walkway was erected with a memorial seat to the side, creating a rest place and lookout. I glimpse the Coromandel Harbour – with moored boats and the Ruffins Bay rocks - to the left beyond the trees, and the Hauraki Gulf to the right.
The track – still well metalled and two-person width - now begins to slope downwards and again the going is gentle. There are some slight ups and downs as I continue along the track, before glimpsing the second boot cleaning station and the gravel road beyond.
If I turn left, the road will take me beneath large puriri, karaka and tree ferns, back to the Long Bay motor camp. I turn right instead to head down the road to the Tucks Bay campsite, which has a grassed area, one cold water tap, and two compost toilets for the hardy campers that frequent this bay during the warmer months.
The grassed area is surrounded by tall pohutukawa trees and the little bay is ablaze with red when the trees are in flower.
Tucks Bay is a small bay with a little sand and grey pebbly stones. While it could be possible to launch a small motor boat at high tide, most campers in this bay, launch kayaks rather than motor boats. (Motor boats are usually launched from the concrete slipway in Long Bay.)
Once I have crossed through the camp ground, the coast walk back to Long Bay begins.
A new track has been forged at the
beginning of the coast walk as erosion has been severe over the past two years with hefty westerly winds driving heavy seas against the shoreline.
As the track winds slowly uphill, large pohutukawa block some of the view down to the water and rocks. The track is narrow here, and most of the metal has washed away during the numerous, heavy winter downpours the Coromandel peninsula is renowned for. Care is needed to avoid falling onto the oyster-clad rocks.
As I move further uphill, I spot the lookout site, again with a barrier, this time to stop walkers from falling on to the rocks. At full-tide, with a high sun and clear water, the oyster shells on the rocks, remind me of the submerged coral reefs of my childhood days in Fiji.
On mornings when the conditions are such, I spend long moments looking down onto the rocks, marvelling at the beauty below. When I raise my eyes, and look out across the water, a group of islands is visible, some bush-clad, others clothed in green farming pasture. Between the coast walk and the islands, are the black mussel floats of several mussel farms.
On a very still morning, music can be heard drifting ashore as the men work the mussel ropes. Each morning, I hope to see a pod of dolphins, or even an orca, but I am told these are more likely to be arrive around dusk.
From the lookout, I head down a slightly wider, mostly metalled path. Above, pohutukawa interspersed with radiata pine, cling to the hill-side and below me, pohutukawa dominate. I pass a track worn by hopeful fishers who cluster on the rocks below to greet the fish as they re-enter Long Bay on the incoming tide.
The path continues until it reaches a wild plum tree on the right and the camp site on the left. A low white, wooden fence keeps coastal track walkers to the grassed area between shore-line and
camp-site. When the tide allows, it is possible to climb down onto the beach and walk the final part of the track along the sand to the public carpark and the end of the walk.
Above: left: A diverted path. Below left” A solitary camper at Tucks Bay.
Coromandel’s Long Bay Kauri Loop Walk
Above: left: The track to Tucks Bay. Below left: The boardwalk through young kauri Below right: Joanna with her dog.
Above: The lookout showing island in the Coromandel. Below: A boot cleaning station
Above: left: The road between Long Bay and Tucks Bay. Below: The largest kauri in the bush.