Note: Use caution when walking the first section of track between SH3 and the river. Beware of the sharp drop-off to the river.
This loop walk branches off the main Manawatu Gorge Track about 500 m into the walk, meandering up and around the southern edge of the reserve. There are some stunning views across Palmerston North from a lookout about halfway around.
The track eventually heads along the old NZTA accessway until it meets up with the original Manawatu Gorge Track. At this junction, walkers can view a carving of Whatonga. They can then either turn right to continue on towards the Woodville eastern end of the track, or turn left and head back down the main track to the Ashhurst carpark.
The track starts at the western end of the Manawatu Gorge Track. The Manawatu Gorge Track is located approximately 12 km east of Palmerston North adjacent to the old State Highway 3. Access to the track is from the car park on the right side above the old SH3 road, immediately before the gorge entrance. The carpark contains restrooms. The carpark is open from 5 am to 10 pm between October and April, and from 6 am to 7 pm from May to September.
The weather can change quickly. Carry sufficient supplies, such as warm and waterproof clothing, sturdy footwear and plenty of food and water. Know your abilities, give yourself plenty of time and be prepared to turn around or stop for safety.
The track is slippery in places.
Wasp nests and Ongaonga (stinging nettle) are on the track. Both can cause strong skin irritation and allergic reactions. Do not touch Ongaonga and stay away from areas of wasp activity, particularly in the open parts of the track. If you are concerned about allergies, consider taking antihistamines or other treatment with you.
Dogs are not permitted in the Manawatu Gorge Scenic Reserve.
Te Apiti has information on the Manawatu Gorge, including Whatonga.
These interesting short and overnight walks are great options for getting outdoors with children.
An adventure thousands of years in the making! Manawatu Gorge was made when the river carved out a route through a mountain range. Now it's a great place to spot kārearea, glow worms at night, and kōura in the stream. You might even find a perfect hiding spot in a hollow totara!