Nearest town: Collingwood, 28km away
Type of track: There and back, with a loop at the end.
Official distance: 10km
Official time: 3 hours
Jenny’s time: almost 4 hours
Toilets: at the Wharariki Road car park
Tips: Watch out for poo – sheep and maybe cow, especially if you’re going to sit down! This walk is easily combined with a visit to Wharariki Beach or a number of other walks in the area.
I huffed and puffed up the last few metres of the steep hill, turning my feet slightly sideways and tugging on tufts of grass to stabilize myself.
Upon reaching the top I didn’t even pause to catch my breath. I stood in one spot, slowly turning in a circle, admiring the view all around me.
In one direction there was ocean, stretching beyond the bush-covered cliff as far as the eye could see.
Just to the left of that, a huge table-like bluff slanted down towards the ocean on one side and led into waves of rolling green hills on the other. My eyes made out tiny white sheep speckling the landscape, munching on all that grass until the hills met bigger mountains, this time covered in dark green forest.
And back towards the way I’d come I saw more green hills, this time dotted with coarse yellow grass and a pond or two, with Wharariki beach in the distant background.
Despite the last very steep part, the Green Hills track was not difficult. An easy climb up over the hill from the furthest end of Wharariki beach*, it then led along a grassy road through Puponga Farm Park, a DOC managed property that acts as a buffer to ecologically-sensitive Farewell Spit.
Upon reaching Green Hills stream the track turns into a loop. After you cross the stream, turn right and enter the forest beyond the little building. Mud squelches under your feet as the track winds around quite a bit. It becomes very narrow in places, trees and bush encroaching on the path to the point where you’re not sure you’re even on the path anymore.
Keep going and the path turns left-ish, going up the side of a hill out of the swampy area. The trees here are different, spindly white branches stretching high over your head.
Suddenly the trail emerges from the forest and you’re heading uphill, looking behind you down the valley you just detoured around.
Around the side of the hill you go, stepping carefully along the edge of a steep cliff high above the ocean, until on the other side you go back into the fields and up, up, up to the viewpoint on the top.
And here you rest, having a snack while you gaze at the sight below you.
You can go no further, the sign warning you off of private land, so you head down the hill away from the ocean, descending steeply through the field and back into the forest, back to the stream and the little bridge across it.
Obviously you could do this loop in the other direction if you wanted to.
On your way back towards the Wharariki Road car park, look for the sign for Green Hill Beach on the left. It’s a quick walk to a beautiful beach with almost no one on it and some great waves! You’ll have to cross the stream at the bottom of the track but you were going to take your shoes off anyway, weren’t you?
The Green HIlls Track is very easily combined with a walk on Wharariki Beach, which is absolutely a must-do in New Zealand as far as I’m concerned! There are also plenty of other walks in Puponga Farm Park, at Farewell Spit, and the rest of the Golden Bay area, so I advise you to spend a while here exploring!
*note that this path is only accessible at low-ish tide, as it requires walking along the beach around some rocks. If the tide is in, you can walk through the farm on the way there and catch the beach on the way back!
Have you been to Puponga Farm Park? What was your favourite part?