This track climbs through tawa forest up a steep ridge to the summit of Mt Messenger (310 m). It then continues along the ridge through tawheowheo and kamahi forest. Rata are visible on the slopes below, and their flowers, in December/January, attract tui and bellbirds. The western slopes are damper, with tawa, ponga and the occasional pukatea tree.
Although the track follows a defined ridgeline it may be overgrown in places and navigation may be difficult.
Waipingau, the second highest point of the route, is reached approximately 1 hr 30 min after the start and is marked by an old iron survey peg. From here the track descends to the coast. Approximately 30 min before reaching Whitecliffs the track crosses the Maui gas pipeline. A short section through nikau forest leads to the Whitecliffs Walkway.
From Whitecliffs Walkway you can return to Mount Messenger, or with prior transport arrangements, follow the Walkway in either direction.
The track begins on SH3, 50 km north of New Plymouth and approximately 1 km from the base of the southern side of Mt Messenger.
Know before you go
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.