Mt Hobson is the highest mountain on Great Barrier Island, rising 621m above sea level. If you're spending some time in Great Barrier, climbing up to the top of Mt Hobson is a great outing. Once you make it up top, there are some spectacular views over the island and across the Hauraki Gulf and, if the weather is cooperating, you can even see the Coromandel Peninsula.
There are a number of different trails which lead up to the summit. We parked our dinghy and started off from the Bush's Beach trailhead which is in Kaiaraara Bay (one bay over from Port Fitzroy). From there, we walked along Bush's Beach Track which joins up with the Kaiaraara Track. The Kaiaraara Track starts at Forest Road near the Kaiaraara Hut where there is a whole "spaghetti junction" of tracks which meet up there. From this point it is 5.6 kms to the summit and is supposed to take roughly 3 to 3-1/2 hours. (We have found that the Department of Conservation is very conservative in its estimates and it shouldn't take the average person that long.) The track rises steadily until you get to the junction of Cooper's Castle Track. Along this portion of the track there are a number of fun swing and wooden bridges to cross over the stream.
At the Cooper's Castle Track, it is definitely worthwhile to take the short side trip down to the Lower Kauri Dam. This dam, along with six other ones lower down, were built in the 1920s. The dam was designed to be tipped once enough logs were slid down against it. Once the dam was tipped, the water would push the logs down into Kaiaraara Bay.
Once you get back on the main path to Mt Hobson, a lot of the track from this point onwards is made up of boardwalks and stairs to protect the environment, prevent erosion and keep pesky humans away from the breeding grounds of the Black Petrel birds. It also makes the tramping a lot easier. Which is good as the track becomes much steeper as you keep going. But the view from the top is well worth all those stairs.
|Carry your heavy dinghy up from the beach and park it by the picnic bench. Stop complaining about how heavy the dink is when Skipper Scott threatens to make you swim back in the cold water to the boat.|
|The walk from Bush's Beach to the Kaiaraara Hut. Deceptively flat. You foolishly think this will be easy.|
|The first bridge! While you're crossing, tell Skipper Scott to knock it off and stop jumping on the bridge which makes it hard to walk across.|
|Oh look - there is the stream you just crossed. Pretty!|
|Another bridge! This time you notice the "danger" signs. You can only have so much weight on the bridge at one time. I hope all those cookies and chips I ate last night don't push me over the limit.|
|View as we start to climb higher. I wonder if we can see our boat down there?|
|The Lower Kauri Dam. I wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of the dam when they tripped it and all the logs came rushing through.|
|People more intrepid then me bathe in these pools. Too cold for me.|
|Great scenery along the way.|
|The start of the steps!|
|Have another look and see if our boat is still anchored safely.|
|Stop and catch your breath. Pretend you are looking at the native plant life.|
|More great views!|
|Stop again to catch your breath. Pretend to be entranced by this spider web.|
|You made it to the top! Celebrate with some water.|
|The views are definitely worth all those steps.|
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