Location: End of Wentworth Valley Road, off SH25 ca. 5 km south of Whangamata
Access: Car-park at campsite at end of Wentworth Valley Road
Length: 3 km
Grade: Undulating to steep; well-formed and graded track
Cafes and restaurants: None nearby; several in Whangamata
More information: http://www.doc.govt.nz/upload/documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/waikato/maratoto-wentworth.pdf
There are disappointingly few places in the Coromandel where you can walk with dogs. In most areas, the beach is our only choice - and sometimes, not even that. With a couple of exceptions, DoC land is entirely off-limits. One of the exceptions is in the Kauaeranga Valley,. near Thames; the other is the Wentworth Valley, about 5 km south of Whangamata.
The Wentworth Valley walk starts at the DoC campground, at the end of aptly named Wentworth Valley Road. It's a well-formed track, which was upgraded at considerable expense in 2009, and starts at a deceivingly gentle gradient. We're passing through an area of scrubby tea-tree - signs of the fact that forest here has been cleared in the past, and is still regenerating. Now, in early summer, the river burbles away amicably to our right, but there are clues that it isn't always quite so friendly; in places, there are strands of grass and clumps of debris in the lower branches of the trees, showing the height of the water during flood.
After fifteen minutes or so, we pass some old mine structures on our left, and soon after cross a bridge over one of the larger tributary streams. Another ten minutes, and the path steepens, and there's another bridge, and from there on the going gets notably tougher as the route zig-zags up towards the ridge. Soon, though, we reach a junction. Straight ahead, the track continues up to the divide but we branch right, down onto a lookout platform. This is the end of our route, for beyond here there's no dogs. But the view of the falls, glistening silver in the morning sunlight, is sufficient reward. And the walk back is easy.