Meeting of the Waters scenic reserve is just 3km south of New Plymouth and from here you access the Araheke Track. The track itself is wheel and pushchair friendly but the wheelchair access to the start of the track is yet to be completed. Wheelchair users can access the swingbridge near the start of Araheke by picking up the key for the gate from DOC’s Taranaki Area Office.
Walkers parking at the Meeting of the Waters have a 20 minute stroll through tawa, kahikatea, matai and large totara trees to the swingbridge. You’ll begin with steps down along a path that borders a popular swimming hole.
Veer right around a concrete path and onto a track leading to a wooden bridge where the tailrace waters of the Mangorei Hydro Station rush underneath. Walk over the bridge and follow the fenceline and beaten track past a stand of totara trees.
Continue on, with the river to your left. A dip and climb and some small round rocks make this section a little bumpy. On your right is TOPEC, an outdoor pursuits centre that is well utilised by the schools of Taranaki.
Walk on to the swingbridge where a small springed gate opens on to the bridge. Turn right at the end of this bridge for a 30 minute stroll around a loop on a flat and friendly track and boardwalks.
While strolling under the canopy of the podocarp forest, admire the lush green tree ferns and coprosma, carpeted at their feet by mosses, grasses and exotic foliage. Native trees like tawa, matai and totara and smaller ferns also present a spectacular sight as the sunlight filters through.
The Araheke Stream is quite close at some points and it’s crystal clear unless in flood. Continue around the loop and back to the swingbridge.