Setting off from the tree canopy-covered carpark at Wenderholm Regional Park, you’ll follow the enchanting, pebbled path to find yourself at Couldrey House where you can learn about the life of those who used to live there.
This historic home was built by Robert Graham who purchased the land in the 1840s – giving it its name – although for hundreds of years prior, Wenderholm’s natural resources and convenient location were used by Māori, who gathered fish from the river and coast, built settlements, and found food and medicinal plants in the forests.
Once you’ve absorbed the history and taken in the sites of the old homestead, your gaze sets upon the impressive headland of Maungatauhoro, cloaked in New Zealand’s beautiful flora and fauna. A carved pouwhenua marks the way to the start of several loop walking tracks.
You can do the short Couldrey House Lookout walk, 15 minutes one way; the Maungatauhoro Te Hikoi track, 1.5 hours; or, if you’re feeling a bit braver, you can opt for the full Maungatauhoro perimeter track, 2.5 hours. Whichever track you choose, you’ll be spotting wildlife such as kererū and tūī flying around the beautiful treetops of kahikatea, mānuka, nīkau, and rimu.
The perimeter track will take you over the headland to many lookouts and historic sights, not to mention breath-taking views of the Puhoi River, Hauraki Gulf, and beyond. Get ready to be mesmerised by the enchanting birdsong as you walk underneath a quiet canopy of greenery and sunrays.
Be prepared for a bit of a workout as you climb an ample number of steps to the top, but don’t fear as there are many spots to rest and gaze at the land and seascape, or set up a picnic for a bite to eat. The encouraging words written on the impending steps will also help you on your quest, and the view is well worth the climb.
The rich Māori and European heritage are what make this walk and regional park a must-visit. The moment you enter the gates, the deep-rooted native and exotic trees planted in 1860 give the area its sense of refuge and sanctuary today, making it a very special place.
Access: Trails start at the pouwhenua carving just beside Couldrey House. Follow the signs from the main carpark.
Distance: 0.5km-5km depending on which track you take. Allow for at least two and a half hours for the latter (perimeter track).