Location: Omeru Scenic Reserve, on SH16, ca. 5 km north of Kaukapakapa.
Access: Car park for site
Length: ca. 700 metres (one way)
Grade: Undulating, with some steep sections; informal path
Status: on leash
Cafes and restaurants: Art- stop cafe and others, Helensville, ca 17 km south
Though short, this walk is well worth taking for it includes a very distinct and well-preserved pa site, as well as a waterfall and good watering hole for the dogs.
The walk starts at the car park for the Omeru Scenic Reserve site, just off SH16. There's a cluster of chicken there to greet us, in return for some severe looks from the dogs ('we'll get you on the way back'). There also used to be a map and information board, telling us about the site, though this now has been stolen it seems (just the empty frame), so we'll have to rely on memory about its history. Some time ago, however, I found an informative document about it on the Rodney website (though this too seems to have been been whisked away and lost with the amalgamation of the area into Auckland), and from what I can remember the history of the pa is sparse, and no-one is too sure when it was built or by whom. But 16 kumara pits have been found on the west side of the site, in the spur of land between the Omeru and Waitangi streams.
After negotiating a tight revolving gate (just room for one dog at a time, if they co-operate), we head down the gravel path to bridge over the stream, and step out onto the grassy picnic area. The pa rises above us, 15 metres or so, constructed as four stepped layers. We scramble up it and stand on the small summit, wondering how many people ever lived or sheltered up here and what they did to amuse themselves.
We bum-slide back down the path and follow the banked terrace around the flank of the pa. On the far side, the pay descends to the stream beside the first of the waterfalls. This one doesn't have a name, which is ironic because in some ways its the prettiest of them all - nestling low between the trees. From there, we take another short path that climbs up and over a spur of land to a higher falls - Omeru Falls - a thin spray of water over a shoulder of rock, perhaps 10 metres high.
Back in the picnic area, we then go in search of the third waterfall - the powerfully named Waitangi Falls. To reach this, we cross the stream by a second bridge, and take a winding path through the bush for about 300 metres. This gives us a good view up the stream to the falls. The path does continue upslope, and takes us nearer to the falls, but be warned: it's rough and can be tricky when the ground is wet, and especially when two dogs are pulling on their leads, and tying you in knots, as they compete to get there first - or perhaps just to get the walk done and get back to those chicken.