Enjoyable walk at Limestone Roadend

Nina Mercer —  10/01/2015

With summer here we all start thinking about heading into the outdoors and enjoying the beautiful New Zealand forests, mountains and beaches.

Native New Zealand forest with tree ferns.

Enjoying the beautiful New Zealand forests

Recently I explored a beautiful piece of beech forest in the Western Ruahines.

In just on an hour’s drive from Palmerston North. myself and a friend reached the Limestone Roadend in the Ruahine Forest Park.

Blessed with a gorgeous day of sunshine we were feeling pretty lucky and set off across a short stretch of farmland to begin our walk.

Walking in the Western Ruahines.

Walking in the Western Ruahines

This is one of those bush walks where you get your feet wet right from the start, crossing the Makiekie (Coal) Creek soon after entering the bush.

After a short climb we reached a beautiful river plateau, home to tall ancient red beech, small cohorts of tree ferns, climbing rata vines, young drooping rimu, and a variety of low lying ferns and mosses.

On this plateau area we came across numbered posts dating back to the 1970’s when it was developed as an education site.

Number 11 pole alongside the track.

Numbered post dating back to the 1970’s

We wandered through this open forest for 25 minutes before reaching a junction leading onto the Deerford Track. Turning left we followed the open path, once an old tramline for logging in the area back in the 1920’s.  We then reached another junction, followed the sign to the left and went down to the edge of the sparkling Makiekie Creek. This creek makes a great spot for a picnic. It is possible to cross the creek and carry on up to the tops via Knights Track.

Makiekie Creek.

Lunch time at Makiekie Creek

We backtracked from the creek to the first junction and started uphill on the Deerford Track. It was a decent climb, up through the beech forest, with fallen logs covered with moss giving it a ‘goblin forest’ feel.

A more open area of regenerating horopito and the tall trunks of dead trees made us think, what had caused this? Perhaps a storm event?

Expecting to walk along a ridge for a while we were surprised to reach the sign at the top where the track branches up Shorts Track to the tops or heads downhill to complete the loop.

A view across the beech forest in Ruahine Forest Park.

A decent climb

Heading down the track we were delighted to see a beautiful bloom of native clematis and also enjoyed awesome views out over the farmland towards the Central Plateau mountains and Mount Taranaki.

Native clematis.

Native clematis

The descent was quite steep for a while as we headed back into the tall red beech forest before joining up with the old tram line, where we sat on a log for a bit of  lunch in the sunshine.

Soon after this stop we reached the junction back into the plateau forest and retraced our steps back to the car.

This loop took us three hours at a fairly leisurely pace including our lunch break, it was most enjoyable, a great way to spend a sunny day!

A DOC sign marking the way back to the carpark.

Heading back to the carpark

Nina Mercer


Nina is a Partnerships Ranger based in Palmerston North who has worked in conservation for more than twenty years. She has a passion for our natural environment and loves exploring the outdoors, especially with her family.