I've never walked in this area before or really knew about it so it was a nice to visit somewhere different. It's an easy overnight walk only 3hrs each way so you really spend more time in the car from Auckland than actually walking but worth it all the same.
The track starts off at the back of Pio Pio just to the West of Te Kuiti in the Whareorino Forest on the way to New Plymouth. A gentle uphill starts the walk followed by about an hour flat then a gentle hour down into and across Leitch's Clearing. It's a nice piece of bush with some streams but no major features like waterfalls. The area is also home to a couple of native frog species.
Walking across the clearing to the South we came across the hut hidden in amongst the trees located in a beautiful little spot complete with a river and hills all around. Mr Sam Leitch originally bought the land because he thought it would be a bustling little centre between three towns. This never happened and DOC now administers this piece of New Zealand.
After finding the hut it was quickly off with the packs to scout around checking out suitable camping spots and the river. We were surprised to find that some creative individuals covered the river band with rock monuments. We added a few of our own whilst the wine cooled and downstream some had a swim.
Of course a walk this easy means one can go to town in terms of the evening meal and we certainly did that. By now it was dark so we surprised Mike down my the river with a chocolate cake complete with candles for his birthday. Happy birthday Mike!
The moon set (went down) at about 7:30pm leaving stars alone to light the clearing. For those that aren't used to these sorts of skies you can walk around and see quite well in the middle of the night with starlight alone.