The Pipiwharauroa Walking and Biking Trail is open for public use. The track goes over privately-owned farmland and paper roads on the Wharauroa Plateau. Crossing steep to rolling terrain, the 18 kilometre return trip takes approximately four hours to walk or two hours to cycle. During August, September and October the sections of the trail on farm land are closed for lambing.
At 430 metres above sea level, the trail winds over the Te Uku Wind Farm site which affords outstanding 360 degree views across the greater Waikato, to include Raglan, Kawhia and Aotea harbours, and on a clear day, Mt Taranaki.
Access to the track is at the western end from the old Kawhia Road. Head back towards Hamilton from Raglan along SH 23. Or driving from Hamilton turn left a few kilometres past Te Uku. From SH 23 turn off onto the Te Mata Road and the follow the signs towards the Wairenga Bridal Veil Falls. Drive through Te Mata village and continue onto the Falls. Continue past the Falls to a quarry and just past that is the signposted access to the Pipiwharauroa Trail. Weather conditions are changeable and it is important hikers and cyclists prepare for potential changing weather conditions typical to this area. Cyclists and walkers are required to keep to the track which covers private farmland.
The track was opened at 9am on the 27th August. After an early morning opening ceremony, a group from the Raglan Mountain-biking Club were the first to experience the track over privately-owned farmland on the Wharauroa Plateau. The name, Pipwharauroa Trail was decided after the public were given the opportunity to submit a name for the track to the Waikato Times. From the 54 entries received, the name was chosen by a panel represented by the land owners, Meridian Energy- owner and operator of the Te Uku Wind Farm, Ngaati Maahanga and Waikato District Council.
The winning name was submitted by Brenda and Trevor George of Ohaupo, whose successful entry will be shown on a plaque to be installed at the site. The couple submitted the following wording to support their entry: Maaori used to travel this route to harvest pipiwharauroa, the shining cuckoo. They followed this trail in search of the bountiful supply of fresh food. The return of these birds from their winter migration indicated it was time to plant spring crops.
At the summit, a historic site treasured by local iwi, Ngaati Maahanga is known as Te Tiho o Tonganui. The site pays homage to three ancestors, Mahanga the eponymous ancestor and namesake of the tribe, Tonganui the warrior and Hone Waitere, the last Maaori owner of the Wharauroa block.
The formation of the Pipiwharauroa Trail over existing paper roads was made possible with the co-operation and goodwill of the landowners. The track winds its way over private farmland owned by the Vanhoutte and Jowsey families who have a long association with the area. The Vanhoutte family’s ties to the area date to 1897, when Maurice Vanhoutte’s grandfather, Belgian immigrant Benoit Vanhoutte, settled on the windswept plateau. The project is a joint initiative by Waikato District Council, Meridian Energy and landowners. The trail opened to the public on Saturday 27 August 2011.