The Water Race Tunnel Track is an easy 1.9 km loop track. The area was also heavily logged for the valuable Kauri trees. But in the last few years over two thousand kauri trees have been planted on both sides of the river. Take the Main Range Track off the Puketui Walk and turn left onto the Water Race Tunnels Track. This follows the old water race that took water from the Third Branch Stream across the Tairua River via three tunnels to drive the Broken Hills Battery. The original race was 3300 m long. At the southern end, the track joins the Water Race Link Track, where you can either drop down a stepped track for 15 min to the Puketui Walk and return to where you started, or climb up to the Third Branch Track and onto Collins Drive. Broken Hills was a gold-mining area dating back to the early 1900
In the map above, if you zoom in on the walk, you’ll see all the following track points and their location. Each point has photos along with a description about each one.
It is a 7km drive down to the end of the Puketui Valley Road. The last couple of k’s are on a narrow dirt road so take it easy. The DOC camp ground is on your right, you might have to open the gate to get in.
Right in front of the car was the start of the track, nice and easy. Fifteen minutes later we walked across a wooden bridge and on our right is the start of the track. It was just a short 20m walk to the start of the water race walk, we turn to the left and headed off for a very easy flat walk. In some places it was easier walking in the water race until I came across a very muddy patch. In one section we had to walk around a very wide slip, but the boy’s had built a good set of steps and hand rails to help you out so there was no problem there. As we walked across the slip, we could look up and down the Tairua River and catch a glimpse or two of the old Broken Hills Battery. Then you arrive at the tunnels, the high light of the walk. No you don’t need a torch they are only 6m long and dry to walk through. Just as you walk through the third and last tunnel you walk onto the next turnoff, how disappointing back to a dirt track.
All you do here is turn left keep walking down hill do not take the up hill track. Within minutes you arrive at the last turn off so turn to the left again and follow the Puketui track back to the car. At the last turnoff there was a river crossing, it looked like a tractor had driven across the river at one time. On the other side of the Tairua River was a farm house and the Southern end of the Puketiu dirt road, nothing to see at all. Back on the track again, the walk back down the Tairua River to the car park was very quick, it took just on twenty minutes and another five minutes to walk down the road to the camp ground.
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