3.3 km, 3 hrs one way.
Palmer’s Track to Mt Hobson Hirakimata begins at the top of Whangapoua Hill on Aotea Road and is the shortest and easiest of the three paths to the summit of Mt Hobson Hirakimata.
The track follows the ridge offering constantly changing vistas in every direction before climbing steeply to the summit, traversing steep inclines via an impressive system of steps and stairways. Healthy examples of the endemic plant prostrate kānuka can be seen among regenerating forest. On the ridge still stands the ‘wooden horse’, a sturdy H-frame used for winching logs from the eastern slopes up and over the saddle, before sending them plummeting down the other side on their way to the sea.
Mt Hobson (Hirakimata) is the site of several rare species. It is the favoured choice of the tomtit, black petrel and recently re-introduced North Island robin, and is frequented by kākāriki and kākā. The beautiful endemic Great Barrier tree daisy and tiny sun dews like it here as well.
Nearing the summit, the track leads into mature forest where logging was too difficult and fires on the lower slopes did not reach. Remnants of an ancient and precious conifer forest, rimu, Kirk’s pine, pink pine and kauri, can be seen here.
Keep an eye out for black petrel. Once widespread on the North Island, breeding colonies of these large, burrow-nesting seabirds are now confined to Great Barrier Island Aotea and Hauturu / Little Barrier Island. The main colony on Great Barrier Island Aotea breeds on the slopes of Mt Hobson (Hirakimata) between October and May each year. Mature birds spend months at sea flying as far as South America and only return to the island to breed. Watch out for them on the road at night.
Photos: Craig Sugden
Information courtesy of the Department of Conservation.
Detailed information including current alerts available on the DOC website.
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