Saturday, 28 November, 2020
The Aongatete River flows northwest from the Kaimai Ranges, terminating in the Tauranga Harbour to the south of Katikati. Aongatete has a range of amazing walking tracks through regenerating native forest, and some awesome swimming holes.
I was privileged to be invited on a short hike in this part of the Kaimais with a group of Naturists mostly from the Bay of Plenty area, headed up by Keven and Joan Sampson. Some of you will have met them a few years ago when they ran the Katikati Naturist Park.
This particular walk started at the carpark at the end of Upland Road. It is a reasonably easy walk on a well-formed track, taking around 45 minutes to reach the North South Track, which runs almost the entire length of the Kaimai Range.
Turning southward onto the North South Track, it's just another 45 minutes to reach the river. The North South Track is slightly more challenging, although this section is pretty easy going. There are a couple of tiny streams to cross and the track has a few steeper sections, but anyone of a reasonable fitness will have no problems. The tracks in Aongatete Forest are of a good standard but can become muddy after wet weather and have exposed tree roots in some sections.
Arriving at the river, we sat around for a while to have lunch, laze in the sun, and take a few photos. This piece of unspoiled New Zealand outback is stunning, to say the least. It felt like a real privilege to be amongst it and share in the peaceful surroundings
I decided to wander by myself downstream a little way to explore the river. At this point the waterholes are not very deep. Further downstream the river takes in more tributary streams and becomes more substantial, giving rise to bigger and deeper swimming spots.
But at this point it was good enough for a quick dip to cool off. And "quick" was the operative word. The temperature of the water was not exactly what you'd call tropical! But I have experienced much colder at times.
I've found that the most comfortable way to explore streams such as the Aongatete, Kauaeranga, and others which comprise rocks and boulders, is to wear shoes or sneakers that you don't mind getting wet. You can navigate the rocks much quicker and in more comfort.
On a short hike such as this it's no problem wearing wet shoes for the short hike home. On a longer tramp you'd be best to bring a spare pair of shoes for river exploration.
Time seems to pass quickly in these restful idyllic surroundings, and all too soon it was time to head back. But the weather couldn't have been kinder to us and each one of us certainly had no complaints about the day.
Interestingly enough, we met nobody else on the track the whole day except for one guy setting out just as we arrived
back at the carpark But, like everyone else we normally meet on our naked wanderings, he was totally unfazed by our nakedness and chatted for a few moments before setting off.
If any members of Hauraki Naturally would like to experience a naked hike in the forest or a river ramble, put a comment in the box below with some details about your availability, what days of the week are best for you, and some idea of your fitness level, and we'll set something up for you. It's an experience you won't forget!