Ferndown Track - Henderson Valley (West)
Walk status: Off-lead
We've had a run of bad luck lately, picking walks with a ridiculous amount of stairs or having to navigate some difficult tracks after the weather. Arriving at Ferndown I thought we'd made the same mistake, but thankfully this turned out to be a good one!!
Ferndown Track cuts through the native bush sitting between Opanuku Road and Grassmere Road. There are entrances at both ends, but Opanuku Road offers a small parking area and also starts the walk downhill. If you start from Grassmere you will be heading up hill for most of the way.
Heading up Opanuku Road, it branches off on a very tight corner to the left onto a gravel road. It does look like you're heading down someones driveway, especially when you discover there is only one property on this part of the road, but it does come to a dead end with a small parking area.
Ferndown Track starts off as a well trodden pathway through long grass. It was quite muddy through here, but don't let that put you off. The start of the walk is the worst part and I can imagine in the middle of winter it will be even worse. Soon enough you'll hear the sound of the stream and its time to cross it. I'd prepared myself to get wet after reading about this walk, as it was mentioned a stream crossing was required. Whether the rocks ended up that way, or someone strategically placed them, you can cross this stream without getting your feet wet at all.
After crossing the stream you enter the bush, and the track widens and in most places is easy to navigate. It was a really nice track to walk in comparison to some others we've done in the area. A bit slippery in places, but for the most part we were able to keep up a good pace. The track opens up to a large grassy area which George enjoyed hooning around in, before heading back into the bush. The track is well trodden through this open area so there's no issue with not knowing what direction you should head. After managing to keep my feet dry crossing the stream, I somehow managed to step in a rather large hole through here which was full of water!
You'll see from the photos that in some places the track was blocked by fallen trees. At one point I thought the track was blocked completely until I got closer and saw a trail had been made just alongside the main path to make it past. All the fallen trees or hazards on this track were avoidable. As you get further along the track you get glimpses across the valley.
It is approx 2.2kms to reach the end of the track. There are steps down to the exit onto Grassmere, which I decided not to do. Why do stairs if you plan to turn around anyway right?! We headed back following the same track, however on the way back you are walking mainly uphill. The hills are all manageable as they are a steady incline and the track is well formed to make it easy to climb up or down.
This was a really enjoyable walk and one we will definitely be doing again. It was 4.55kms and 1 hour walking in total.
Note: There are no restrictions on the council website for dogs on this track, although it does have a Kauri Dieback stand at the entrance. I let George off lead as he follows the same path as I do, so wasn't concerned he would be creating havoc in the bush and possibly damaging any Kauri. If your dog is not one to stick to the main track, then please consider walking them on-lead to help prevent spreading the disease.
Location: 120 Opanuku Road, Henderson Valley
Carparking is very limited. Approx 2-3 cars max and thats with some strategic parking to ensure everyone can get out.
Things to know:
There are no toilets here
Tracks can be muddy, especially in winter
There is a stream crossing required across stones
Tracks may be closed so check the council website for updates: http://regionalparks.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz