Something we committed to doing when we moved to Taupō earlier this year was to explore all of the local walking tracks. That includes the Great Lake Trail which, despite being seen by many as a cycling trail, was originally envisaged in 2007 to be a shared walking and cycling route.
With that in mind, last weekend, lured by the promise of lookout views, we decided to walk part of the W2K (Whakaipo to Kinloch) section of the trail. This ended up being a muddy, sweaty, 20km walk that, apart from the exercise, left us feeling underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great track for cycling, but for walking… yeah nah.
Now it wasn’t so much the distance that was the issue. We’re not averse to putting in the kilometres just for the fun of it, and looking at the map beforehand we knew it was going to be a fair distance. But what we didn’t count on was the mud.
Now a little bit of mud is fun, but after several kilometres of slipping and sliding, the novelty does wear off after a while. Nevermind we said, at least our efforts will be rewarded with some amazing lookout views once we got onto the Headland Loop track. Below was the view looking towards Whakaipo Bay…. Ok, not exactly what we had in mind for a well deserved lunch stop.
However, the map also showed a lookout on the Kinloch end of the Headland Loop so off we strode. Not via the loop itself mind you, as that would have added another 7km+ to what was already going to be a fair distance, but via the main W2K track. So this was the view from that lookout.
To be fair, we probably weren’t in the best frame of mind at this point given how far we’d already walked, knowing too that we’d have to do it all again on the way back. But come on, if you’re going to walk 20km in a day (think Tongariro Crossing or Tama Lakes for similar distances), is it wrong to expect a bit of a scenic reward 😉
All of that said, the W2K is an awesome cycling track. And assuming you time it right (i.e. not after several days of rain) it’s also great for trail running, especially if you include the full Headland Loop track for close on 30km in total.
So can we recommend this to anyone as a walk in the area? Unless you just want the exercise, probably not. You’re far better off walking a section of the K2K trail from Kinloch to the Kawakawa Bay lookout. You won’t be disappointed by the view – we promise!
Above: back at Whakaipo Bay after our little ‘stroll’ looking towards Tahunatara Point.
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