Watts and Campbells Road loop

Did you know that there are an estimated 56,000 km of unformed legal (paper) roads in New Zealand? The public can legally use these roads, although it is not always practical to do so and users must be considerate of adjoining land owners [ref].

This 9 km walk includes two paper roads with impressive perspectives down the valley. It has a steep start, fences to cross and stock to avoid. I also had to adjust my route as it became overgrown. If that’s not for you then try the Campbells Road stretch from Pine Hill to the reserve and back – and you’ll get to enjoy the best views twice! Otherwise, do your own checking in advance in case things have changed.


Starting on North Road, climb up Watts Road from the valley. You’ll pass warehouses, the old quarry on your left and rural Normanby views off to the right.



The road curves right before you can follow the power lines up to a stand of trees.



Hop some fences, watching out for the one that turned my shorts into a skirt, and clamber up the scrub lined corridor to Pine Hill.



Enjoy a quick look over the rooftops to the northern motorway and then turn right on to Campbells Road.


Before long Campbells Road becomes an unsealed road. And eventually you’ll be able to turn around and see all the way down the valley to the stadium, harbour and city.



My favourite part of this walk was where Campbells Road becomes a paper road. After going through a gate (and a quick check that I was sticking to the right line / middle track) the route became a lush grassy farm track fenced off from the sloping lower paddocks and sheep. The views back down the valley to the harbour and city were spectacular, and the sun was starting to break through the cloud! Please be respectful of the adjacent land owners farm land – leave gates as you find then, avoid startling stock (stay away during lambing), etc.


Eventually you’ll see the Mount Cargill mast in the distance.


And it’s worth regularly pausing to take in the views back the way you’ve come.


This part of the track ends at a closed gate into Mount Cargill Reserve, and from there it was pretty overgrown when I did the walk.


The maps I’ve seen suggested the track followed the contours of the slope, slightly to the left, to join up with the Mount Cargill walking track. I couldn’t find that route so followed the fence line down the hill until I could just about make out a way through to one of the mountain bike tracks, which in turn joined up with the walking track. If you’re not comfortable bush bashing or following the fence line, then you could always do the return walk back along Campbells Road instead – I just wanted to do a loop! Note that there were signs of possum control along the edges of Mount Cargill reserve. Probably quite old, but be careful all the same.

Some notes from a reader who subsequently attempted the extension from Campbells Road to the Mount Cargill walking track with an experienced walking buddy: went through the gate and up towards the left via some gorse bushes. Did probably 50 to 100 meters through low branches, overgrown, awkward then got easier. There was an identifiable path for some way. We passed some pylons. Began to see red markers on the trees. After 800m to 1km [they think, taking about 40 minutes] we came to two yellow markers on a tree. [They tried the left uphill track initially but it petered out so they retraced their steps to the yellow markers] and took the downhill track (to the right). Came down steeply and rather slippery to join the real Bethunes Gully track slightly above the “Bethunes Gully Scenic Reserve” sign. The reader found it somewhat adventurous but decided not to lead their walking group on that route!


Mount Cargill walking track winds down to Bethunes Gully, from where you exit right onto Norwood Street to head back down to the start on North Road.