Stage 1 - Pipiroa Bay to Aucks Road
35 mins (1.3km)
Good fitness level and footwear required. Can be muddy.
Follows 600 metres along flat valley from Pipiroa Bay end then climbs steeply to Aucks Road.
Track commences 400 metres from vehicle ferry landing at Okiato. Follow Aucks Road up the hill and turn left into Pipiroa Road.
A few minutes detour along James Clendon Place, following “historic place” sign will bring you to the site of New Zealand’s first capital. It was here in 1840 that Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson established “Russell”, named in honour of Lord John Russell, the British Colonial Secretary. The settlement’s well remains visible through it's safety fencing on the reserve.
Return to Pipiroa Road leading down to the picnic area at Pipiroa Beach to the start of Stage One of the walkway. At low tide the mudflats are visited by shore birds and waders such as herons, oyster catchers and kingfishers.
Proceed across the boardwalk through the Raupo swamp where the well formed track follows the wetland along its margin. Fernbirds inhabit the raupo and though a secretive bird, can often been seen crossing the track or down low in the undergrowth amongst the reeds.
The mangroves growing from the foreshore to the flat wetland soon give way to a small group of Kahikatea. In 2006 the Russell Landcare volunteer group started a programme to restore this stand of kahikatea by collecting seed from these trees and with the help of the Kerikeri Shadehouse Volunteers undertaking their propagation have commenced replanting the valley floor with the young locally sourced trees.
The track then takes a left turn and enters native bush following a stream through mature puriri, kahikatea, kohekohe and nikau palms. Watch for native pigeon (kereru), tui, tomtit, and if it is early morning or evening you may be lucky enough to see weka. This is also a kiwi zone and dogs must be on a lead at all times.
At large Pukatea (marked) cross the stream before ascending steeply past the landslip caused by 2007 storm. Note a sign pointing to a single kauri before the staircase which brings you to the carpark at the crest of Aucks Road.