The Golden Stairs walking track takes its name from the spectacular display of the native Kowhai trees with their drooping golden yellow trumpet like flowers in spring.
The walking track is more correctly a tramping track and is suited to fairly fit people. It is not a DoC track and just who is in charge remains a bit of a mystery. As a result the track can be overgrown in parts, and signage is not always easy to see.
The track commences just past Pawarenga, a tiny settlement marked by a spectacular small church, along the eastern shores of the narrow fiord-like entrance to Whangape harbour.
You can drive to Pawarenga from Kaitaia mainly by following The Twim Coast Discovery Highway south. Travel west from Kaitaia on the road to Ahipara and turn left (south) at The Twin Coast Discovery Highway sign. Follow The Twin Coast Discovery Highway south, past Herekino Harbour(worth a visit).Turn right into Pawarenga Road just before you get to Pukemiro and Broadwood.
From Kohukohu you can follow the main road (Kohukohu Road) along The Twin Coast Discovery Highway north through Broadwood and Pukemiro and turn left at Pawarenga Road. . As an alternative you can head west from Kohukohu along West Coast Road to Panguru, then turn right (north) into Runaruna Road which leads to Pawarenga Road. Turn left at the Tee junction.
From there to the coast the road is metalled, is narrow in places and can be rough. Watch out for wandering stock and ‘cowboys’. Take time to explore Saint Gabriel’s church at Pawarenga and the interesting headstones in the graveyard beside it.
The start of the track, at the end of the beach where the harbour narrows, is not signposted but it is reasonably obvious. At low tide there is the option of walking around a rocky beach for the first ten or 15 minutes or alternatively taking a roughly formed all-tides track about 20m above the beach. Look for a track on your left which will take you up on to the ridge.
Shortly after crossing a gully with a waterfall at it’s head the track leaves the beach and climbs steeply to a ridge top which it follows along the spectacular harbour rim to the entrance. The point where it leaves the beach can take some finding although there is a small – and sometimes overgrown – sign just above the high tide mark. From there the first 20 metres or so require bashing through very abrasive three meters tall vegetation but once through that the going is mostly clear. The views more than reward the effort involved.
The track is easy to follow as it travels along the ridge, providing views inland and over the coastal slopes of the Warawara forest. Spectacular views up and down the coats are also afforded.
If you arrange transport to be dropped off at Pawarenga, you can do the longer tramp of about 20 Km south to Mitimiti, at the end of West Coast Road.