A great loop with varied terrain and scenery.
Park at Mt. Vernon Park Car Park at the end of Hillsborough Tce. There are several tracks (NZ term for Trails) accessible from here. The Valley Track takes you up through nice patch of native bush along the stream. The day I visited, the ground was still wet from recent flooding so I took a right at the start, run a few 100 meters uphill past a cave and joined the Marette Taylor Track
, which parallels the Valley Track before joining it at the gate about one mile up the valley
As always in NZ, leave the gate open or closed as you found it. Beyond the gate, the trail gets a little rougher. You can exit to the Rapaki Track
at one point. The track gives every indication of being designed and maintained by the sheep and becomes indistinct as it nears the Summit Road, but it is quite a gentle traverse to the road.
From the Rapaki Saddle on the road, head west towards Mt. Vernon. The Crater Rim Walkway: Eastern Section
goes up the fence line. This joint-use mountain bike trail offers an easier climb to the summit. Follow it around to the Bowenvale Saddle, and then it is a short climb up to Mt. Vernon back to the east. The Crater Rim Walkway then descends a series of zig-zags (switchbacks) before following the fence line back to the Rapaki Saddle.
The descent on the Rapaki Track
is easier on a wide packed gravel road. You can take the Rapaki Track
all the way down to Centaurus Road and loop back on Hillsborough Tce, or drop down the Rogers Track
to get directly to the car park. Just use caution, as Rogers Track
is a steep descent.
Mostly tussock grass land, but the advantage of taking the Rogers and Valley Tracks is the native bush by the stream. Cabbage trees, Kowhai, and even a Totora.