Walking New Zealand
Branch Road Walkway
Before the settlers came to the valley wild cattle roamed the hills. Roadmen from Pohangina were kept busy clearing many slips.
In 1920 the Finnis Bridle track was widened to provide an alternative route surplanting the Branch Road as the main route into Pohangina. When you look at the rugged valley’s and hills you wonder how anyone could survive the trip that Willian Colenso and his two guides achieved in that very harsh era.
We started the walk through the farm gate (signposted) and down the track toward the farmland valley. As everyone was free to walk at their own pace and we were not in a guided situation were able to stop and enjoy the views and take photos without holding others up.
I must admit we were blown away by the beautiful scenery and the views of the surrounding valley below were nothing short of magnificent. It crosses hilly uplands giving views of the Tararua and Ruahine Ranges and on a clear day you can see Mt Ruapehu. As it was cloudy not visible.
Not far into the walk we passed a wooden seat called The loving Seat which had a layer of mould and damp on it due to the weather, certainly wasn’t living up to its name.
The scenery changing to a treefern gully, across more farmland into some magnificent bush consisting of cape ferns, tall ponga trees, silver ferns and different varieties of native trees, rewarewa, mahoe and many more species including a cacophony of bird song.
Further down a memorial seat which was too wet to sit on and time for a short break and a drink. The sound of birds again was a joy to listen to and as we made our way further down the track into the pine forest even that had a beauty of its own. There was a sense of silence, stillness and tranquillity in there. It was almost peaceful and soothing.
Further down we passed Skull
Corner, past a stand of lovely macrocarpa and onto a steep zig zag track, around the Silver Poplar Gully out of the pines which then joined a track across private farmland which was more or less toward the end of the walk as we had reached the end of the gully and back onto flat land.
We had to stay close to the boundary fence following the arrowed markers which eventually took us to the gate onto the lower Branch Road, then the Kuku Road exit where we crossed a small stream over the road and made our way slowly back to Finnis Road and to the County Fayre Cafe where we were greeted by a group of lovely local ladies with welcoming hot soup and buns.
We were more or less the stragglers as most of the other walkers had mostly been in front of us on the track and were already back at the cafe and enjoying the hospitality of the local people.
I must admit that the day out was most enjoyable, fine weather, the organized walk, the scenery, the friendliness of the locals and the whole experience was fantastic. I would encourage any of those who love walking and tramping to put this beautiful scenery changing walkway on their list. It took us approximately about three hours to complete the walk given that we kept stopping to take photos, admire the scenery and take our time.
This walk is open all year round except in the lambing season and I suggest that you do it with company or one other person, as you need to leave a vehicle at both ends of the walkway.
One at the start and one at the end otherwise it means walking back up the 6ks to collect yours. A good idea would be to leave the end of the walk vehicle outside the County Fayre Café in Finnis Road, then take the other vehicle to the top of Ridge Road to start the walk collecting the first vehicle using the one left at the finish.
I would grade the walk as medium due to uneven, zig zag, downhill, slippery, and steep grades. A walking pole may assist some who are not confident on downhill walks. The track is easy to follow and where needed there are stiles and signs. Probably not that good in wet winter weather.
Branch Road Walkway is approximately 40 minutes drive from Feilding. We used our G.P.S. to get to County Fayre, 976 Finnis Road which was a great help. The address is Ridge Road to get to the start of the walk and is located not far from County Fayre Café, which was until some years ago the offices of the Pohangina District Council.
No dogs permitted on this walk.