Walk status: On-lead (baiting in the area)
Hidden on State Highway 16 heading North is Omeru Scenic Reserve. Mum told me we used to take my dog Jessie here to swim under the waterfall when i was younger, but I couldn't remember so one weekend we headed off to walk down memory lane. Not so much memory lane for me as I didn't remember ever going there!
The entrance to the reserve is directly off State Highway 16, but there is a sufficient parking area to get off the main road. Watch out for the chickens that have made their home here. They seem very used to people, probably due to being fed so will follow you or head towards your car on arrival. Best to keep your dog on a lead if they aren't used to chickens and you're not sure how they will react.
At the main entrance is the sign explaining the walk options. Its not a big area, so its possible to do all tracks like we did on this particular day. Head down the gravel hill towards the toilet block. At the bottom of the hill you'll reach the water and a small bridge you can cross to reach the tracks.
Heading left across the bridge takes you to an open area of reserve and eventually to the main waterfall. The reserve has some large open spaces, and with us being the only ones there that day I let George off for a run and a chance for a paddle in the water. He was back on lead on the tracks due to the warning at the entrance about baiting. When you reach the open space head right to cross another bridge and wind your way along the pathway to reach the main waterfall. Be warned this pathway is incredibly slippery. We came in Summer, but after some heavy rains and it was very muddy and not easy to navigate. The waterfall isn't easy to reach either, its down a very steep slope and unfortunately the day we visited, I was slipping down the hill so chose not to attempt to navigate my way to the bottom. The water was also flowing rather quickly downstream and I was concerned George might get swept away. We cut our losses and turned back to head back along the track we walked in on.
There is no direct route to the other track that leads to the smaller waterfall so you need to head back the way you came. Crossing the bridge again back into the open area, if you walk along the edge of the tree line to the right you'll discover a spot where dogs who aren't super confident with water can get easy access for a swim. This is where George went in, and he could paddle at one end, or go down the deeper end and have a proper swim. Much safer than the waterfall option that day.
Making your way back to the first bridge you crossed, rather than crossing it, head straight up the other track. This brings you to the smaller waterfall and also a small picnic area. There are many options to be able to get down to the water here, but will depend on how adventurous you or your dog are. As George had already been for a swim by then, we didn't attempt any of the tracks down to the water as again these were too wet on the day we went.
This isn't a long walk so I wouldn't go out of your way to get here, but it's a good stopover option if you're heading along the highway to get to another destination and need a stretch of the legs.
Location: 1890 Kaipara Coast Hwy, Kaukapakapa
Things to know:
There are toilets here
There are chickens who reside at the entrance, and in some of the open spaces within the reserve