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 new car park on the right side above the old SH3 road, immediately before the gorge entrance.
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date and time to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.
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 – please use caution. Wasp nests and Ongaonga (stinging nettle) are present on the track. Both can cause strong skin irritation and allergic reactions. Do not touch Ongaonga and stay away from areas of wasp activity. Watch out for these hazards, 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.