This is a level, friendly walk in dappled shade under pines parallel with the west coast and about 100-200m distant, with beach access readily available. You'll need to take water with you. The large concrete tanks scattered about the forest contain water only by accident as far as I can tell, and I wouldn't guarantee the drinking quality if you can access it.
About a kilometre south of Helensville, take the Rimmer Rd turnoff and continue on tarseal until you reach the gravel road through the forest. (There is a gate here that is closed at 8.30pm overnight until 7.30am, with a $60 opening fee if you happen to know who has the key and where to find him.)
Continue for several kilometres until you reach a T junction at Inland Rd.
Turn right, then left about 150 metres down the road. Another kilometre or so will get you to the Rimmers Rd carpark.
Coast Rd runs more or less parallel with the west coast, north and south from the Rimmers carpark. It is an ideal walk for those who are sensitive to the subtleties of a route. In other words, it's an old gravel road, more or less straight and more or less flat, with pines on each side, and not much to over-excite one.
A late afternoon walk will be predominantly through dappled shade with occasional sunny open areas. Just occasionally, when there's an ocean haze, you get something like this:
We use the coast road for undemanding early season warmups, and later when we are trying to build up distance with a full 18kg pack before we start the hillwork. The occasional 4WD with horse trailer accesses this road from the south, but apart from that and a quad bike or two the road gets very little use these days. A locked gate bars vehicle access from the Rimmers carpark. To the north, a motor cycle park is fenced off from the road.
We'll look first at the south section, from the Rimmers carpark, down as far as Puketapu Rd where the Woodhill Forest Long Loop Track intersects.
The first kilometre or so, the pines meet overhead, and the road is covered in a combination of sand and pine needles. The road is bordered by small leaf coprosmas and muehlenbeckia and a variety of ferns, with occasional scattered specimens of this tree, Persoonia toru, toru, a member of the Protea family.
Muehlenbeckia thrives along the coast and under the pines and here it is using a pine for support.
In places the combination of fern and muehlenbeckia is spectacular.
We pass the Mission Rd Junction
and about a kilometre further on is Willets Rd, where the coast road intersects with the northern arm of the Woodhill Long Loop Track.
From here, there is a sandy track leading out to the coast,
and we head out for several hundred yards to have a look. We've been walking just under the hour, we've covered around 4 km or a touch more, and we take the opportunity for a packs off break.
We target a ten kilometre total for this walk so it's back to the coast road and still heading south.
Just down the way about a couple of hundred metres there's a young fallow deer grazing by the roadside, and shortly after, a rabbit races across the road. As Miranda comments, it's all a bit like Bambi at times.
The road stretches ahead.
We estimate a turning point to give us a total distance of 10 km, and head back the way we've come. We're starting to feel the weight of the packs now and take some time out for another packs off rest.
Miranda hunts for a bag of home-dried bananas and tosses me one.
I am starting to notice the side stabiliser muscles on both thighs. Miranda reckons there might be the beginning of a blister. We've judged the distance and terrain just about right I reckon.
We start off again with just under 3 kilometres to go. Soon enough, the car appears and we stow all the gear and head back home.