The Sentinel Rock Lookout walk is a medium 6k walk that will take you around 4 hours to complete.

You will start the walk at the same car park for the Tuahu Track walk in the Kaimai Ranges, located at the end of Hot Springs Rd, around 8k from Katikati. You can enjoy the Kauri Loop Track along the way, then turn off again to Sentinel Rock Lookout. The very last bit of the track to the very summit of Sentinel Rock is actually closed, well you can still walk it but at your own risk, it’s very steep and dangerous, DOC recommends you do not try and hike it up there. Unfortunately, the best views are to be found at the very top at the summit, not before. 

Quick Facts about this walk

  • Location: Kaimai Ranges, Katikati, North Island, NZ
  • Distance: 6.00 kms
  • Time needed: 4 Hours
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Wheelchair Access: No
  • Route: Double back
  • Elevation: 536m
  • Wet Feet: No
  • Toilets: No
  • Dogs: No
  • Mobile Coverage: Yes
  • Last Updated: March 2022

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Summary points about this walk

Topo Map of Sentinel Rock Lookout and Summit

If you’re looking on the Topo map of Sentinel Rock it’s a bit misleading. The actual summit looks like it is much closer to Motutapere Hut, but it’s not. We have walked to the Motutapere Hut too. The summit is much higher than the hut. You can see from the image below the first red circle with the little tramper icon is where the Sentinel Rock Lookout Track stops. The rest of the walk is to the summit, this part is not recommended to climb. Hopefully, it makes it clearer to understand.

Topo map showing Sentinel Rock Lookout and Summit
Topo map showing Sentinel Rock Lookout and Summit

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Points of interest along the walk​

Start of the walk from Hot Springs Rd car park

The car park is on a sealed road just a short 8km drive from Katikati. It’s not a massive car park, but you should be able to find a spot. Be careful and don’t leave anything in your car at all, it’s not safe and you can be broken into.

Turn off to Sentinel Rock

You will start the walk on the Tuahu Walkway track. Walk through the gate at the end of the car park and onto an excellent six foot wide track. 10 minutes into the walk there is a good creek to dump your chemically treated town water and top up with real fresh water. The turn off to Sentinel Rock from the car park is a pleasant 20 minute walk. You should take the Kauri Loop Track walk, it comes out further down the original track.

Sentinel Rock Lookout

There is a little bonus in this walk, you will walk right past the giant Kauri tree – Tauhu. It is thought to be around 600 years old. The first limb is 12.8 m from the ground and the diameter at the base is a slim 2.7 m. Follow the track past Tauhu to the next turn off just minutes away, cross the bridge and take the track to the left. To Sentinel Rock Lookout the track is just the same as any other track in the Kaimai ranges. Lots of tree roots to trip you up and miles of damp thick bush. At an easy pace it took us 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach the Sentinel Rock Lookout.

Sentinel Rock Summit

Now the sign says the track up to Sentinel Rock is closed. DOC is recommending trampers do not climb to the top of Sentinel Rock as it’s very steep and dangerous. I did ignore the sign and the last 10 m of the climb needs a lot of caution, just take your time and get a secure foothold before taking the next step. So go and have a look, from the lookout to the top of Sentinel Rock will take you around 20 mins. The view from Sentinel Rock on a fine day is fantastic, on a cloudy day take a warm jacket so you can sit down and enjoy the view, a flask of hot coffee and a slice of chocolate cake would round off the perfect day. Return the same way.

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