Huatoki Domain - Frankleigh Park, New Plymouth
Walk status: Off-lead
Another of New Plymouth's hidden gems in suburbia. Driving along the streets, you often wouldn't know what lies behind some of the well established trees. Huatoki Domain is home to the Huatoki Walkway, which you can start as far back as the Wind Wand in town before reaching the final stop at Huatoki Domain.
The walkway follows alongside the Huatoki River through residential housing, parklands and scenic native bush. As George and I love getting our feet dirty in the bush, we started our journey from the corner of Huatoki Street and Brois Street, at the entrance to the NZMCA Park. There is plenty of off street parking at this end, and allows you to create a decent loop through the NZMCA Park and then onto Huatoki Domain.
Entering just off the street, the walkway heads either left or right. We went right to start making our way through the picturesque park grounds. Head through the trees along the pathway until you reach a small carpark area, and cross this to continue to another large grassy park area. On this side there are steps heading up the pathway and you should spot a marker sign that indicates the walkway is in this direction. Reaching the top of those stairs brings you to a secluded little grassy area, perfect for summer picnics. Head back into the bush now, by the stairs on the other side and head down the track to the sign that gives you the option of continuing on Huatoki Walkway, or choosing to do John's Walk Loop Track.
In this instance, head down the hill to do John's Walk as this leads you alongside the river. Watch your footing as the bush paths on this entire walk can be a little slippery as they rarely seen sunshine in the wetter months. Follow John's Walk alongside the river until you reach the next set of stairs. A warning here, as you've now reached the end of NZMCA Park and are about to cross over to Huatoki Domain, which does mean crossing a road. If you dog is a poor listener, put them on lead at the bottom of the stairs before they have a chance to get to the top and across the road before you.
Huatoki Domain is marked by a large metal gate, with bush pathways either side. You can choose to just walk the road if you don't want to get your feet dirty, but where's the fun in that! George and I headed to the left side of the gate and headed into the bush, following the main pathway. At points there are times when the pathway does branch off. While we tended to stick to the main pathway, or at least the route I thought I wanted to take, at any point you can choose to explore the others. It's not a big enough area to get truly lost so you'll end up at the central road that runs through the domain at some point if you get lost. My aim was to stick left for as long as I could before knowing I wanted to cross the central road and head into the bush on the other side.
After walking the left hand side for a while, and note there are some hills to climb, although all were manageable, George and I headed to the central road and noticed there looked to be more to explore past the gate at the end. We walked up here for a short distance just to be nosey, but it does just lead to residential streets up here, so nothing really to see. Heading back the way we came, and re-entering the bush on the right hand side now we carried on following the walkway. There is currently an area that is very blocked by fallen trees, as shown in one of the photos. You need to be reasonably able bodied to get over this, so id avoid taking your 80 year nan for a stroll through here anytime soon.
Following this track on the right hand side eventually brings you back to the main road where you crossed over from the park, completing the loop. Follow your same path back the way you came through NZMCA Park to complete the walk and return to where you parked. Now you can just do Huatoki Domain if you wish, but there is very limited parking at the actual entrance here and limited street parking so it made sense to me to add the little extra walk. George and I can't wait to walk Huatoki Domain in the summer evenings, its one that I can see us enjoying a lot.
Sadly as seems to be the case lately, my GPS didn't capture the full walk again as it missed our first part of the walk. So I determined based on retracking the same way we came it was approx 45mins to an hour all up and around 3.5 - 4kms long.
Location: Corner of Huatoki and Brois Street (if completing the same walk as we did), or if you just want to walk Huatoki Domain, the entrance is located at 154 Huatoki Street.
Carparking is very limited here at Domain Entrance so best to find an alternative spot to park.
Things to know:
There are no toilets here