Upper Nihotupu Reservoir and Dam

Upper Nihotupu Dam

In which a visit to the Arataki Visitor Centre leads to another dam walk, this time to the Upper Nihotupu Dam.

You can view the full gallery of 24 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

The Walk of the Week worked out for me the last time the weekend caught me with no plan, so I went back to the Arataki Visitor Centre to try again.  Unfortunately it was still the same as it was two weeks ago – the Waitakere Dam Walk.  Fortunately, a staff member was ready with another option.

I mentioned that I appreciated the fact that the Waitakere Dam Walk seemed to have been recommended for the fact that the track followed a gravel road, and so it was not at all muddy in spite of the wet winter conditions.  He said that while this is good for hikers, it also helps reduce spread of the kauri dieback disease that is killing the huge trees.  He was quick to recommend another walk, to another dam, the Upper Nihotupu Dam.

The start of the trail, at the edge of the carpark, is very inviting.

Start of the Upper Nihotupu Dam Walk
Start of the Upper Nihotupu Dam Walk

The trail was only a bit muddy at the start, with no steep hills to make things slippery and dangerous, and the bush is green and lush.

Upper Nihotupu Dam Walk
Upper Nihotupu Dam Walk

After a short time the trail meets the gravel road to the dam, which follows a stream with a couple of waterfalls.

Upper Nihotupu Dam Walk
Upper Nihotupu Dam Walk

Views over the Upper Nihotupu Reservoir reveal the dam in the distance.

Upper Nihotupu Reservoir and Dam
Upper Nihotupu Reservoir and Dam

The dam seems smaller than the Waitakere Dam.

Upper Nihotupu Dam
Upper Nihotupu Dam

The far end appeared to be a dead end, but a closer look revealed a small track with a sign recommending that only very experienced hikers take it.

Upper Nihotupu Dam
Upper Nihotupu Dam

There is an easier route available to extend the walk, leading down to a picnic area and service tracks to the dam itself, and steps up the face of the dam.  A sign at the top of those steps indicates that it is forbidden to walk down them, but walking up is permitted.

Looking down the steps up the dam face
Looking down the steps up the dam face

This track is also a gravel surface.  Near the picnic area is a small building that apparently houses a small service train.

Tracks to the dam
Tracks to the dam
Tracks to the dam
Tracks to the dam

From this point you follow the rails to the dam.  They meet with another set of tracks that emerge from a gated tunnel, along with the pipeline for drinking water from the dam.

Tracks to the dam
Tracks to the dam

It doesn’t take long to arrive at the base of dam.

Nihotupu Dam
Nihotupu Dam

You can’t miss the stairs.  They’re steep, but not bad going up.  When I turned around to take pictures though, I suddenly felt like I could be easily blown off of them, and I understood why it is only permitted to go up them.

Stairs up the face of Nihotupu Dam
Stairs up the face of Nihotupu Dam

The stairs are quickly closed in by vegetation as they hug the face of the dam.

Stairs up the face of Nihotupu Dam
Stairs up the face of Nihotupu Dam

The stairs move away from the dam at the top.

Stairs up the face of Nihotupu Dam
Stairs up the face of Nihotupu Dam

The Waitakere Ranges have many more beautiful walks, but this is enjoyable and scenic enough for a day when I had no track in mind.  It is also a good choice in the winter when conditions are very wet.  It was also interesting to see another of Auckland’s dams.

You can view the full gallery of 24 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.