The first part of the track climbs steadily through mixed forest with grass clearings that provide sweeping views of Otaki Forks and the Tararua Range. The highest point at Pukeatua (812m) is a good place to lunch. The track then descends down a series of bush clad ridges, passing through private land and pine plantation before joining a four wheel drive track and exiting at South Mangaone Road Car Park opposite the Mangaone Walkway.
The area adjacent to the pine forest is private land covenanted with the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust to preserve native forest. Walkers are required to respect the protected area and stay on the marked track (blue poles).
The Pukeatua Track starts at the Fenceline Carpark at Otaki Forks, 2km from Parawai Hut. From the DOC information sign, follow the Fenceline Loop Track for 700m to a marked junction to Pukeatua Track. The track takes a sharp left uphill turn to a southwest ridge.
Continue uphill for about 3 hours with a hard right turn just prior to exiting the bush before Pukeatua (812m). The track skirts the scrubby tops on the eastern side to Pukeatua Summit. From the summit the track follows the south side of a westerly ridge to a saddle and then northwest down a ridge to a broad ridge and intersection. Turn right at the fork, following the markers down to a stream. Turn right at the stream and cross diagonally just above the junction and then left on to a four wheel drive track leading to a metalled road.
Exit left and walk down the road, crossing the pedestrian bridge to the South Mangaone Road Car Park and track end. From here continue down South Mangaone Road (5km), turn right into Ngatiawa Road (1km) and right into Reikiorangi Road (5km) leading to Waikanae Village and SH1 Bridge.
Note: The Gorge road to Otaki Forks is narrow and winding and not safe for walkers.
The track can be accessed and walked from several locations.
North: Otaki Forks, Fenceline carpark
South: Waikanae River bridge SH1
A: Otaki Forks to Mangaone Sth Rd, 14km, 6 - 7hrs
B: Mangaone Sth Rd to Waikanae, 11km, 2.5hrs
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date 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.