Thompson’s Track is located 12km south of Te Aroha off Thompson Rd. The track crosses the Kaimai Ranges between Manawaru and Katikati. It is a legal paper road owned by Matamata Piako District Council from the western side to the summit (approximately 6km) and Western Bay of Plenty District Council on the eastern side (approximately 7km).
The history of the track dates back to pre-European times but was opened up around the turn of the century. According to stories, the track was upgraded to a reasonable road standard during the Second World War as an alternative escape route should Tauranga be invaded. In later years it was used as a stock route and by local contractors to walk their bulldozers to Katikati to carry out land clearing work.
It has been used by motorbikes for many decades, but has only been used by 4WD vehicles since they became popular in the 1980s & 90s. The track is now used extensively by 4WD vehicles that regularly come from all over the North Island to tackle the track. This change in use has had a major impact to the condition of the track in the past 20 years. The track is also used by trampers, mountain bikers, hunters and horse riders. Usage during the week is normally only a few vehicles per day, however on a weekend it is not unusual to see a dozen or more 4WDs and motor bikes on the track at any one time.
Current Track condition
The track is currently open - but caution is advised.
A major rainfall event in April 2014 caused significant damage to Thompson's Track. There are still a number of slips across the track, which require a good 4WD vehicle/bike to cross. Caution is advised when using this track.