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Pahi Coastal Track – Hike and Bike
Wednesday 11th to 14th October 2023
The tramping club were lucky as Raewyn and friends had tried to do this trip during the previous season but it had been cancelled due to bad weather so when it came to re-booking they decided to offer it as a club trip.
“Pahi Coastal Walk is an incredible three-day, two-night walking experience with unsurpassed coastal views over the whole trip.” Thus saith the blurb on their web-site and I think all of us who made the trip would agree with that. It is also fully catered and the accommodation could not be faulted except perhaps by the ones who had a cold shower on the second night because the first bathers didn’t realise the Shearers Quarters were on electric hot water, and not gas, as the Pahi Retreat had been and were a bit hoggy with the water!
The group were: Raewyn Rush (organiser), Jenny Verschaffelt, Gill Tate, Christine Elmiger, Jean Caulton, Doug Papps, Carroll Robertson, Dave and Jill Wilding, Celia and Bryan Bockett and Elsie Skelton. All but Raewyn gathered at the Wilding residence, to load an excessive amount of gear into and onto the van (bikes), considering we didn’t need to bring meals. Raewyn joined us at Coromandel.
We drove north to Manawaru where we stopped for lunch at a very nice café whose premises is the old NZ Dairy Company Building. The food was excellent and the service efficient.
The water in the Hauraki Gulf was rather muddy looking close to shore but that didn’t deter a big flock of White Fronted Terns and Gannets diving into it in a frenzy to work over a school of fish. Many Terns and Shags kept company on a certain outcrop of rocks and were still in residence at the same spot on our return.
We spent the first night at the Top10 Holiday Park in Coromandel where Raewyn had booked out a very nicely renovated old villa whose ceilings reach heavenwards, my guess being by about 15 feet. The singles took up residence there and “marrieds” shared a Motel Unit. We dined at the Top Pub just across the road, huge meals at reasonable prices. An early to bedder locked the rest of the crew out – oops!
On Thursday morning we packed the van again, reattached the bike carrier and bikes and set off for Colville with Raewyn and Jenny coming behind in Raewyn’s car. We had no sooner turned out onto the highway north than a frantic tooting and yelling from Raewyn and Jenny had us pulling into the curb side pronto. The bike carrier hadn’t been secured properly and had tilted backwards, a scary moment for Bryan and Celia. Fortunately, the bikes were securely fastened to the carrier so didn’t fall to the road so no damage was done. The carrier was clicked firmly into place and we were off again. The road to Colville has certainly taken a battering with big slumps dropping away from the road, and the scars where slips have come from above and swooshed over and down into the sea below giving pause for thought. An engineer’s nightmare!
We were early for our shuttle pick-up in Colville so put some shekels into the local economy by enjoying coffee and cakes at the café.
We found the Hike and Bike place after a false start and those who intended to bike on the last day signed their lives away on the paper work then we were off up the coast to Jackson’s Bay being entertained all the way by a very interesting commentary from the shuttle driver.
We and our day packs were duly delivered to Zander and Cath Ward’s home where a tasty morning tea and briefing awaited us. Those formalities over, we up packed and set off out their front gate at 11.45a.m. for a 10 km walk over their farm, working our way from sea level gently up and up on farm tracks till we crossed the Colville Road and after a steep pinch, plonked ourselves down on the ridge at 1.00p.m for a lunch break. We were overlooking the Hauraki Gulf to the west and to the north, through the haze, we could see the outline of Little Barrier Island.
Onwards and upwards through the only bush of our two day walk. The bush is open to the farm stock so the understory is non-existent but it was pretty with Clematis, Taurepo and Puriri all in flower. On up towards the Vodaphone Cell Tower which had seemed so high above us from the house, but here we were now, right beside it. It was exceedingly windy on the ridgeline, with the gusts causing us to stagger like drunks at times, as the wind tried to topple us back down the hill. Another small patch of bush held a surprise, a Giant Puriri tree, it dwarfed all others around it and we wondered about its age. Another stand of trees had us scratching our heads as to what they were, quite upright with thick leaves. Jean’s Naturalist program told us it was Beilschmiedia taraire, now get your tongue around that one!
A little further on, the track forked, and those who didn’t wish to continue up on the blustery ridge could start their downward trend towards Pahi Retreat from there, with the others continuing to battle the wind to reach the Lookout at 550 metres above sea level. To the south Mount Moehau brooded over us but in all three other directions we were “the conquerors of all we surveyed!” Fabulous!! Not so fabulous for Carroll who came out of the wee patch of bush below the summit, sporting a gory decoration to her nose and leg having been leg tripped by some flax.
Now it was time to go down, and down, and down some more! How those thigh muscles complained! We weren’t frisking like the heifers we passed in the top paddock, or moving swiftly around stock tracks like the Big Billy’s, Nannies and Kids, or skidding down the ridges like the cows and calves or staying still like the ewes and lambs. We had to keep on plodding, as delicious snacks, dinner, and showers awaited us down close to sea level again. We reached Pahi Retreat at around 5.00 p.m. and a joint effort soon had the pre-prepared meal cooking, the snacks being devoured and finally the clean up afterwards before a well-earned soft, comfy bed.
Oh dear, the sound of rain pitter pattering on the roof during the night and early morning was ominous. Those who had cell phone access checked and rechecked the hour by hour weather report – showers clearing by lunchtime, all fingers crossed. After a hearty breakfast we donned wet weather gear and were on our way by 8.45a.m. along a farm track with a very steady trajectory upwards. An hour and a bit brought us to a set of cattle yards where we sat sheltering on the catwalk, on the leeward side of the yards, out of the wind. The tops were obscured intermittently during the morning, and skiffs of rain came scurrying through on the still gusty wind. A few metres above the cattle yards was a parting of the ways again, with the choice to go high or take a less elevated route for the rest of the day. The wind was
blowing, the rain was stinging our faces and many were in a quandary as to which path to take with a 50x50 split, then suddenly the sun came out and the upward bound numbers swelled with just three choosing the alternate route. What a difference a little sunshine can make!
This farm has two cell towers and we were working our way steadily towards the second one but cut left just below the tower to follow the farm tracks towards the east where the track levelled out on a high plateau where stock, camped in groups, kept a wary eye on us. Three climbed to the highest point on the farm, while the rest followed the track. A stile took us onto the Pahi Cycle Way –wow!! What a Cycle Way!! You’d have to be nuts to ride that! I see the info says “Advanced” – surely not for the faint hearted. It took us ages just to pick our way down on foot as the exposed papa and clay was slippery from the night’s rain.
The sun came out. The sea turned from silver to magenta and the atmosphere cleared so we could see down the coast to Cuvier Island, and later as far as the Mercury Islands – fabulous. We stopped at an old fencer’s cottage to read the story of a young lads’ first job. We sat outside the hut to eat our lunches before continuing our downward trek to Fletcher’s Bay to the Stony Bay Track which we followed down to the Fletcher’s Bay camp ground. We opted to walk the road until we reached the Muriwai cliff path instead of climbing again up the cycle path through the farm. We learned later, the others had taken the “up” track.
We all just loved the Muriwai Cliff track and it was one of the highlights for Christine and Elsie. We were high above the sea, above the diving Gannets. The early group had seen them flying in V formation. We watched tiny yachts sailing across the channel between Great Barrier and the Coromandel and later a trio of motor boats stormed out of the Hauraki Gulf headed for the Barrier for the weekend, or so we imagined.
Today’s walk finished with a flight or two of steps, both up and down and then a lovely stroll along the Port Jackson Beach where Dotterels in breeding colours strutted about, Oyster Catchers called, a pair of Caspian Terns stood at the waters’ edge ready for flight and sadly, a dead Blue Penguin lay at rest on the high tide line.
We reached the Shearers Quarters at 4.00. Celia and Bryan had been in for a swim so, not to be out done, several of the newly arrived group also went in for a “Tea Bag” swim as well. We were soon relaxing with nibbles and drinks before consuming a delicious meal of kebabs, salads and, Doug’s trip highlight, “Mile High Berry Pie”.
As we sat around the table that night we reflected on the highlights of the trip thus far.
For Jenny it was being out tramping in open farmland and being with members from the club again.
Celia and Carroll both commented on the privilege of being able to have two wonderful days walking over private farmland with magnificent views and magnificent stock. Also being able to see views from both sides of the ridge line, east and west.
For those who had been to Great Barrier Island recently seeing the view in reverse was a treat i.e. Great Barrier to Coromandel and now Coromandel to Great Barrier.
Gill found the wind a challenge, bracing herself against it and winning.
Jill loved having a great tramp with a hot shower and comfortable bed to end the day. She enjoyed walking amongst the farm stock too, ewes and lambs, cows and calves, and nannies and kids.
Bryan had a serious moment being “eye balled” by a cow.
Jean was impressed with the variety of bird life both land and sea birds: Kaka, Grey Warbler, Kereru, Turkey and those sea birds already mentioned.
Dave was happy that the big walks were over and found the cuisine to his liking.
He also found a kindred spirit in the Shearer’s Quarter’s friendly grey cat.
Raewyn made mention of the education our most senior couple had given we young ones as to the delights of a “bushy”. And so to bed.
On the last day eight of the twelve chose to cycle from Jackson Bay down the Coast Road back to Colville. The other four would do an hour walk close to the Shearer’s Quarters and then be transported down to Colville by shuttle. Five of us had hired our bikes so we had a little trial run before setting off. I found mine rather up right and felt I should have a basket on the front filled with flowers like Mary Poppins. After the initial climb up from Jackson Bay to the ridgeline it was a superb ride. The atmosphere was the clearest we’d had with Waiheke Island and the Whangaporoa Peninsula being very clear. At our first stop we looked back up to the heights we had climbed the past two days and felt elated that we’d conquered them. We kept a sharp lookout for any sign of Whales, Orca and Dolphins but were unlucky today. We stopped at Fantail Bay to check out the camping ground. We stopped at Lindsay Garmson’s workshop where he has a collection of teapots and coffee mugs made by many different potters. Jenny’s happy place. Not long after, vehicles could be heard sneaking up on us. Christine decided to cross the road to a wide shoulder on the other side of the road. As she did so, a Ute came towards her from the opposite direction, causing her momentary panic as she escaped from its path. The bike pedals ripped up her legs leaving a couple of bruised graze marks. The scare leaving her with a pounding heart!
We stopped at the Paritu Granite Wharf from where loads of granite were taken across to Auckland and other places for the building of early New Zealand grand edifices.
A huge,1000 year old Pohutukawa tree had our cameras clicking as did the huge Charolaise Bull snoozing beneath. We sloshed our way through a ford and a couple of very muddy puddles then cruised onto the sealed road at the junction with the road to Waikawau and raced on quickly back to the café at Colville for refreshments before taking our steeds back to Hike and Bike. The others arrived sometime later and we set off South to Taupo all well pleased with our efforts over the past few days.
A wonderful tramp, with great club members, in mostly good weather, with amazing scenery, first rate food and accommodation. Our thanks to Raewyn for all her organisation and to Dave for all his driving.
Wangapeka Track 5th to 9th November 2023
Trampers: Raewyn Rush, Christine Elmiger, Sandy Clark, Trudy Haringa.
Huts: King, Stone, Helicopter, Taipo, Belltown
Rivers: Wangapeka, Karamea, Taipo, Little Wanganui
Over the Ford, thank the Lord
Saved 8 kms to walk and talk
High slippery slips
Chains to help
Beech, moss and fern. Green, green rainforest
Dripping water, lichen hanging
Bird song glorious – Whio Forever trapping
Robin, bellbird, kereru. Pesky weka!
Rushing, falling water far below
Tricky track, watch your feet
Heed the warnings
Be sure McHarrie Creek is not too deep
Over the saddle in the mysterious mist
Little lakes hiding up here
Where’s the hut?
Bugger, it’s been moved a further K away!
Another 30 minutes on our nine hour day
Our minds are soaked with the bush’s beauty
Our legs are tired, bruised and sore
Are we really going to walk some more?!
Lake Matiri and 1000 Acre Plateau November 10th to 13th
Huts: Lake Matiri, Poor Petes, Larrikins
Trampers: Raewyn, Christine and Sandy
Off we go again, food restocked
Wine drunk and bodies washed
Bivvy bags and tarps at the ready
Up to Matiri Hut nice and steady
Truly grunty climb to the plateaus
Here the pace really slows!
Slippery rocks and bashed knee
Then tussock as far as the eye can see
Across the mud to Poor Pete’s little hut
Lying in the sun, our eyes begin to shut
Over to Larrikins and back
A long day to see the Needle and The Haystack
Limestone creeks, more tussock and mud galore
Time to go home and our strength restore
Down to our last skerrick of food, gas and paper
So proud of ourselves and this challenging caper!
Matemateaonga Tiki Tour 24th to 27th May, 2023
Bernie Hammersley, Dave and Jill Wilding, Jean Caulton, Gill Tate, Jenny Verschaffelt, Raewyn Rush, Russell Watts and Elsie Skelton climbed aboard the club bus at 8.00 a.m. on Wednesday 24th May, westward bound with stop offs for coffee and dry firewood in Taumarunui - (Bernie had been told that there was no firewood at the hut) and toasted sandwiches or homemade lunches in Whangamomona.
The turn off to the track is reached a further hour and a half on from Whangamomona off SH 43 near Strathmore, east of Stratford, where the signpost indicates the road connecting to Upper Mangaehu Road. The track entrance is at the Kohi Saddle and is well marked. We reached that around 2.00p.m.
The firewood was distributed between us with the admonition that one could only share the fire’s warmth if one had participated in carrying some wood in. Well, that stack of firewood disappeared into packs in short measure. A few groans accompanied the hoisting of packs onto backs as the legs adjusted to the weight. There were two stiles to negotiate, requiring a careful balancing act, before getting onto the track proper. We set off along the old dray track which descended gently through regrowth Manuka and young Rewarewa. The track was wet in places and the exposed Papa Mudstone looked slick and slippery so there was a lot of careful foot placement to ensure safe passage. We were making good time till we reached a freshly fallen tree. We ladies were in the lead and tried climbing above the windfall. The men arrived later and looked at us askance saying “the track is down here” only to have to swallow their words a moment later and try to figure out a way through too. Russell chose the downward end of the fall and was soon through and on the track on the other side, followed not too long afterwards by the rest of us all sporting dirty bottoms or dirty knees and some adorned with hook grass spangles in their hair.
We stopped for a rest and drink in an open area. Jill realised that she had lost her “Fitbit” and we assumed it would have been as we scrambled around in the windfall,so we planned to look for it on the return journey. A corner or two later was the perfect
stopping place where a fallen tree had been cut to make seats but we didn’t dilly dally as we’d already lost time and the sun was sinking lower towards the horizon.
Jean’s firewood was determined it wasn’t going to end up as a fiery sacrifice so it kept leaping out of her pack hoping to end up in a stream and thus become too wet to burn, but it was retrieved each time and it kept us nice and warm later that evening.
We reached Omaru Hut before 5 p.m. We were pleased to arrive in the daylight but it wasn’t long before dusk descended, the fire was cranked up and the gas cookers were pumping out their cheerful song with interesting smells emanating from a variety of different meals.
Someone suggested that a prize should have been offered for the dirtiest trousers but it was deemed too close to call.
Omaru Hut is a “Serviced” Hut. It is well appointed with a big area of bench space and has an upper and a lower sleeping platform with five mattresses on each. The fire worked well and “yes” there was still some dry wood left by DOC to go with what we’d brought in.
It was very dark in our bush clearing even though the sky was clear and shining with trillions of bright stars. The moon was only a little fingernail arc. There were no Kiwi calls during the night. Russell said he heard a Ruru (Morepork) when he got up later.
It had been a long drive, there were no packs of cards on offer so everyone was in bed at Rest Home time of 8 o’clock and conversation ceased not long after.
Day Two: We woke to a clear, crisp, bluebird morning without any wind, just perfect. Today we planned to walk about half way to Pouri Hut where the track to Mount Humphries branches off.
It was a lovely, easy walk, certainly as family friendly as the DOC literature mentions.
There were some beautiful big Rimu, Totara and Kahikatea with an under story of Horopito and ladder fern and on the wetter banks, or where streams crossed our path, New Zealand Begonia (Maori name – Parataniwha) were growing in abundance.
Not far from the hut a “Trip Wire” of young Rata vines seemed to have been cunningly laid to slow the leader down. Hmmm…. there had been much upping and downing during the night…..I wonder who??? One of the men had brought a folding saw with him so the offending vines were quickly rendered harmless after not one, but two, of the group had done a face plant. The saw was used on another couple of smaller windfalls and we were wondering how many more we would come across. There was only one more, a big one, that we had to climb up the bank off the track to get around and then it was clear the rest of the way.
We could smell “Billy Goat” in many places and we saw their foot prints embedded in the soft mud with any low growing Keikei being well chewed. Piggy Poo piles and tell tale signs of fresh rooting told their own story. We heard North Island Robin, Kereru, Piwakawaka, Miromiro and Tui - we were not alone in the wilderness.
Once we reached the ridgeline “windows” between the trees showed scenes where islands of hilltops floated above a sea of fog. A couple of wider sections of trail appeared where other tracks joined the Matemateaonga, one at Kurepete and another at Whakaihuwaka. We stopped for morning tea just passed the former. From here on we had wonderful scenic snapshots of Ruapehu in its half winter white, Ngauruhoe’s perfect volcanic cone and Tongariro’s sprawling bulk all standing proud and clear against the horizon to the East.
We reached the turn off to Mount Humphries around 11.30 a.m. The sign said it was a return trip of an hour and a half to the trig. We were aware of the time knowing that we needed to be back to Omaru Hut around 5.00p.m. so as not to have to use our torches. It was not an easy climb. It was steep and slippery with few markers. The track was overgrown with Horopito and Ladder fern so it was hard to see. We passed under an overhanging cliff face where there was the pungent smell of “Goat” giving testament to their ability to find good shelter, although there were big drops of water falling off the stalagmites that had been formed by the water permeating through the shell bearing rock. We stopped for lunch in a sunny north facing spot high above a forested valley which looked out to farmland in the distance. With lunch over, and some looking to relax a while. The “Mountain Goat” got itchy feet. We weren’t at the summit and the summit was calling, so a deal was reached that a couple could go on for a further 10 minutes, so off they shot like a rocket and low and behold only five minutes later burst out of the bush at the trig and onto a stunning view. The others were within calling distance and were soon at the trig enjoying the amazing vista: From East to West – Mount Taranaki looked so close it felt as if you could reach out a hand to touch it. Taranaki wore a thin belt of cloud around his hips. To the north Mount Hikurangi, Taumarunui’s landmark, stood a head and shoulders above the surrounding ranges. The Hauhangaroa Range was covered in cloud but the distinctive curves at either end, up onto its top, were visible. To the west Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu still clear. Between us and those distant land marks a sea of varying shades of green, lush forest, farmlands, hills and valleys, just beautiful.
Time was of essence, we had to drag ourselves away and set our course back to Omaru Hut. It took us as long to climb back down to the Matemateaonga Track as it had taken to climb up. Jean found a native orchid fallen from its Widow maker perch onto the track and we also saw the distinctive green “bullet” like fruit of the Keikei plant.
It had taken us about three and a half hours to walk from Omaru to Humphries junction. It was two thirty by the time we reached the junction again, so if we kept our mornings’ gentle pace we most certainly would be in the dark getting to the hut. Instead it would have to be a route march, no sight seeing, no photographs. We had a drink and a bite to eat, then we were off at a brisk walk and the kilometres churned out under our boots at a great rate. The sun was shining right on the tree fall that we were hoping to reach before dark so we were able to skirt it with no trouble at all. We walked into the hut clearing at 4.30p.m. having cut a good hour off our outward journey.
We were elated. We’d achieved our goal for the day and what a superb day it had been, clear skies, fabulous views, and summiting Mt Humphries. Fantastic.
Dehydrated meals never tasted so good, the dry wood we’d carried in had the hut cosy and the boots drying. Rest Home hours were observed and the candle was snuffed at 8.00p.m.
Day Three: Friday. We’d all had enough of hard mattresses and snoring companions by 6.45a.m. even though we could have had the luxury of a lie in as leaving time was programmed to be 9.00 a.m.
The men set about cleaning up the rubbish left by previous trampers, numerous empty gas bottles, vape bottles, mouldy food and spent tea light candles. Somehow they managed to stash them all into their packs to take out with us. Others cleaned the benches, swept the floors and tilted the mattresses up.
We were up packs and off by 8.45a.m. for the leisurely uphill walk back out to Kohi Saddle. The day was overcast. Gone were the blue skies of yesterday. We kept an eye out for Jill’s “Fitbit” as we clambered around, under and over the windfall. A fat black and white goat had been breakfasting on the newly fallen choice leaves and took off like a rocket when we approached.
We had a brief stop for “Sawman” to deal to a tangle of bush lawyer that had earmarked a few of us as we passed. We marvelled at the threads of supple jack vine that were pausing the fall of broken branches on their way to the forest floor or the sight of fairy swings of vivid green lichen. There were fungi in shades of red, orange, fawn and black. Walking at No 7 in the crocodile, an Eagle eyed one, found the “Fitbit” and presented it to a surprised owner who had thought it lost and gone forever. We had morning tea at the van.
We drove passed a local entrepreneur’s farm where two fallow deer, numerous black pigs in varying sizes and goats in many colours watched our progress with wary eyes even though the fences were festooned with signs saying “No Shooting”.
Bernie had a Tiki Tour planned for us. Instead of turning left onto SH43 and driving on towards Stratford we turned right and drove back towards Whangamomona. We turned into Junction Road to follow part of the Kopiko bike trail down through the Purangi Valley where we marvelled at the tenacity of the Pioneers and subsequent farmers to break in this steep country and indeed the women folk to live and rear families in this isolated area. Junction Road took us through to Tarata Road where the hillsides were being denuded of their pinus radiate cloaks and the road was turned to mud and pot holes by the logging trucks. We turned into the little community of Tarata and commandeered the seats outside the community hall to have our lunch. On again through the Tarata Tunnel (Date Constructed: 1904 The Tarata Tunnel was originally dug by hand in 1904 at a cost of £315. In recent years the historic tunnel has undergone enlargements to allow larger vehicles accessing the farmers in this area). The further west we went the better the farm land became from steep brown top and ring fern clad hills to choice rolling hills with rich green pasture. The road was improving too. Once we drove passed the Todd Energy production area we had a white line again and “shoulders” on the road.
We reached a road with a “Road Closed” sign at the turn off, but down it we turned and continued right down to the Waitara River where an old suspension bridge spans the river. There are bollards at either end of the bridge to discourage big vehicles from crossing but Dave knew from past experience that he could sneak the club van through with about 5 cms of space on each side. We automatically pulled our tummies in and through we went, just!! The information board beside gives a detailed story of the bridges’ origins summarised as : The original suspension bridge over the Waitara River, linking the Tikorangi and Huirangi communities, was built in 1897. In 1927 the bridge was replaced by one of similar design, which was closed to traffic for safety reasons in 1985. A private trust raised $630,000 for its restoration, and the bridge reopened for light traffic in 2006.
Now we were off in a speedy van to the Fitzroy Motor Camp where hot showers and a few home comforts awaited. We patronised the local R.S.A. at dinner time. Then “home” to bed to luxuriate in clean sheets for the night.
Day Four: The beach was calling and I think everyone got out for an early morning breath of fresh air even if it was only to walk as far as the handy coffee cart. At least a dozen hardy souls (not us though) were out swimming, dogs raced the black sand to greet their doggy friends as their owners passed the time of day.
To the south the sky was inky black and ominous looking but to the north the sky was lighter even though it was streaked with pink.
We were all present and packed into the van ready to leave at 8.30a.m. The first stop on today’s Tiki Tour was at the “Wave” cycle bridge. We walked it end to end. We scanned the stream below for any sign of the Cape Baron Goose but didn’t see it and we didn’t have time to hunt.
Off north again up the coast to Uruti where we turned inland up passed the “Last Samurai” stage set pagoda shaped, building and up some more till we passed through the tiny Moki tunnel then down and down to the Moki Stream flats on Kiwi Road till we found DOC signs for the Rerekapa Track.
A bakery visit before leaving civilisation made sure morning tea and lunch stops today were a gourmet treat. We enjoyed the former all together on the road side before we left Bernie to move the van around to the Mangapapa Road end where he would walk in to meet us.
Today’s walk started out across very soggy farmland before crossing a wee stream to a fence line beside the bush where the remains of another old dray road formed the base for the day’s walk. A stile hurdle took us from the farm land into DOC reserve. We climbed steadily up to the saddle where a stand of Nikau Palms took the eye. Many different types of lycopodium (club moss) and banks covered in whole swathes of N.Z. Begonia gave us plenty to enjoy.
We reached the Waitara Boys Brigade Hut at 12.30 where we made use of their outdoor dining suite before continuing. From here on, the track and the bridges had been widened to take a quad bike. The bush had been extensively logged in the not too distant past with Manuka now the dominant species and all the other natives were just regenerating young ones.
We met Bernie on this stretch of track – he had been communing with a family or two of choice, fat piglets along the way, none of whom seemed too disturbed by his presence. There was plenty of evidence of little pig snouts learning to turn over the soft soil. Another stile brought us out into farmland which Phillip Donnell’s book, “Into the Wilderness” says belongs to the Irwin Family. We checked out the Rerekapa Waterfall. Pretty but pretty insignificant as far as falls go.
A nice herd of “blue” weaners milled hopefully in front of a gate hoping we’d let them through. Further on a new set of galvanised iron cattle yards and a small woolshed as well as a bulldozer and two sets of discs showed this to be a busy working farm. A cottage, sporting an innovative “Spa Bath”, gave us pause for thought and amusement. From this hub of activity out to the road end was a slog along a well maintained road with the only light relief being a delightful wee lagoon with perfect Rimu reflections and the welcome sight of the bridge over the Waitara River Headwaters.
We didn’t take long to load into the van and drive out to Ohura Road and then East and East and East again to Taupo, arriving there at 6.30p.m.
After saying a big “Thank You” to Bernie for his organisation, and to Dave for all the 708kms of perfect driving, we dispersed to our various parts of the country hoping to meet again out on the track for another adventure soon.
Great Barrier Island March 26 – April 1 2023
12 of us gathered at Auckland Airport to fly to Great Barrier. Our van awaited us for the drive to Tryphena House. Kayaks and paddle boards along with a swim were the main activities that day. Some enjoyed a bathtub soak up on the knob overlooking the ocean.
Monday morning 10 of us set out to do the Aotea Track. We started first with a short walk to Station Rock followed by a drive out to Windy Canyon to commence the Aotea Track. Up to Mt Hobson (temp of 29 deg) then on to Mt Heale which has amazing views and a wonderful sunset.
With track damage the planned route of Kaiaraara was changed to go down South Fork Track to Kaiaraara Hut. This hut sits beside a stream with great spots for a dip.
Our last day, the plan was to follow Forest Road then Tramline Track North finishing at Kaitoke Hot Springs where our wonderful van movers would meet us. However, our leader with island knowledge had an alternate plan that appealed to all. Contact with the van movers was made for them to meet us in Port Fitzroy and we would have an easier day and walk out towards them. Yeah right!
At this point we joined Raewyn’s boot camp and she walked our boots off our feet. First up Warrens Waterfall track out to Port Fitzroy then lunch at Glenfern Sanctuary carpark. Up Old Lady Track and back down the road followed by the Glenfern walk which has a giant Kauri tree that can be climbed into. View out over Port Fitzroy and beyond.
Thursday we climbed Te Ahumata followed by a 45 minute walk into Kaitoke Hot Springs for a soak.
Friday morning, we headed over to Whangaparapara Harbour for a boat cruise to Port Fitzroy. Along the way, Russell and Helena both braved cool conditions to swim into a cave. Further on, a boat had been washed up, firmly lodged and suspended between rocks. This due to Cyclone Gabrielle.
Our skipper pulled into Motu Kaikoura Scenic Reserve and sent us of for a bit of exploring with our return to a lovely lunch and more of his morning tea cake that he’d baked. We headed back to Whangaparapara having seen a blue penguin then dolphins in this harbour. A highly recommended day trip.
The tracks on Great Barrier are very well maintained by DOC.
Trips like this can only be done with grateful thanks to our van movers Celia & Brian and our ever-ready driver Dave. And yes, last but not least our Leader/Organiser Raewyn.
Saturday we visited the local market and awaited our flight back to Auckland.
The participants were Raewyn, Dave & Jill, Celia & Brian, Doug, Jean, Trudy, Christine, Russell & Helena & Jenny.
Cape Runaway (Whangaparāoa) Trip 22-25 January
The TTC hiking year started with good resolutions, one of these morphing into the reality of Christine Elmiger’s brilliant trifecta of day walks on the glorious East Coast. Given that this is her playground, she was superbly equipped with knowledge and local contacts to structure the trip.
Eight of us left Taupo on Sunday morning stopping for a mandatory smoko at the very good Palmer’s Garden Centre café before driving on to Lake Rotoiti for the first exertion of the day. A gentle walk through pretty bush along Hongi’s Track, took us to the Wishing Tree, also known as the Sacred Matai or Hinehopu’s Tree named after the Maori chieftainess who lived in the area circa 1620. Calamity struck when poor Jenny’s cell phone rang to summons her home as Gary had fallen off his bicycle sustaining injuries that merited hospitalisation. We drove her back to Rotorua Airport where she was collected by her good grandson to return her to her car in Taupo and the long drive back to Waipukurau.
Our destination was Waihau Bay, sweetly situated on the slinky curve of the East Cape, the sun smiling diamonds onto a madly turquoise sea. Like most places in New Zealand, I felt that it would be yet another choice place to own a bach if Lotto were to grace one’s bank account. Christine met us at the newly completed St John’s Ambulance station. She spearheaded this project from conceptual start, through fundraising, to an eventual opening ceremony, a slow and challenging gestation spanning a decade of some almighty hurdles. It’s an impressive asset for this small and remote community, an invaluable contribution that Christine deserves to feel enormously proud of.
Christine had organised comfortable accommodation for us in two adjacent sea-facing Airbnb homes which worked a treat. The hum of the sea over the road soon triggered that calming internal ebb and flow that being coastal seems to do.
Kind Christine took us under her culinary wing that first evening and arrived with a wonderful ‘meals on wheels’ that she had cooked for us all to enjoy. For those of us who are ‘cooked out’ after a few decades of feeding families, this was a treat indeed.
Our big walk was on Monday, up 700 meters of an unmentionably steep hill to the Tikirau Trig and then down its equally testing descent to the Cape Runaway lighthouse. Thighs and knees were in clench mode (screaming mode for some) as we braved these gradients, but the distraction of magnificent views was our reward. At lunchtime, we sprawled around the short concrete block that houses the fully automated lighthouse. An essential swim at the beautiful beach on our way home cooled our molten inner mercury. Nobody summarises topographical details as well as Austin Hutcheon so further details may be pursued here.
On Tuesday, Christine gathered up the keen and the slightly crippled of us to walk to the spectacular cove that is Lottin Point Bay, reached after another intimidating haul up and over a saddle. First prize to our able leader for orchestrating the superb setting for the culinary service that followed outside the rustic shed where we ate our lunch. No word of a lie, as our photographs are the evidence, but she had organised local farming friends to drive chilly bins of crayfish, fresh tuna sushi, sausages and bread, (and tomato sauce) over the saddle in quad bikes. Kai moana of the highest order to be chased down with chilled cider and beer followed by marshmallows that we toasted! A precedent has been set which may remain unattainable ever again.
As Christine is a fisherwoman of note in these parts, so much so that she has earned the respect of local fish one imagines, a meal at the local fishing club was organised for our final night. We walked the few meters from our AirBnB’s across the lawns to the Waihau Bay Fishing Club where we were served truly wonderful meals. If it wasn’t a four-hour drive for us living in Taupo, I would be first in the queue to book a table here weekly. High on good cuisine, stimulating conversation and the mushed muscle satisfaction that comes of a good leg stretch, the verdict was unanimous: East Cape rocked!
Wednesday morning dawned with bright promise as we carefully folded ourselves into the van for our drive home. My marshmallow thighs were not unhappy to ‘sit and stay’. We paused for a cuppa and muffin/croissant in Opotiki before wandering through the lushly treed beauty of the Hukutaia Domain. This 4.5-hectare area was set aside as a reserve in 1918, mainly to safeguard Taketakerau, the Burial Tree. This giant Pūriri (Vitex lucens) thought to exceed 2000 years in age, was highly tapu. It was a repository for the distinguished dead used by the local iwi, Upokorehe. It’s a massively girthed tree, its stature commanding respect as one views it from behind the protective railing.
A final walk through Onekawa Te Mahwai Regional Park located near the Ōhiwa Spit, sealed the day and we ate our lunch here before heading home.
A big salute to Christine for gathering us up and guiding us in good shepherdess style up, up and over some beautifully challenging countryside in her backyard. For five (of the original six) of us, it was an impromptu reunion after last sharing the track during our Nepal trekking experience three months earlier with Trudy able to join us.
How fortunate we are that we are able to enjoy these fabulous ‘getaways’ through our club.
Bernie Hammersley, Dave and Jill Wilding, Jean Caulton, Jenny Verschaffelt (half of day 1) Lindsay Brown, Christine Elmiger, Casey Bainbridge, Sarah Hart, Trudy Haringa, Claire Furniss.
Sunrise Hut 4 November 2022
I met the club van beside the Tikokino pub and we drove to the Carpark to tramp into Sunrise Hut in the Ruahine Ranges.
It was a cruisy start having had lunch at the carpark. We started wondering how many choices we would have for beds given our late start. I was imagining I would be in the heavens again on level 3. This trip is advertised as an easy family trip and indeed, we have encountered primary school groups on the track before. However, it is still a push in with two steady climbs resulting in the walk taking a little over three hours. Towards the top we encountered very strong wind. Incredibly we were the first at the hut. Wahoo! A choice of booked bunks. Having quickly got ourselves organised and one member choosing to tent, it was very apparent there would be no going up onto Armstrong Saddle. Denys gave Dave a lesson in getting a difficult fire going then out came the cards and in between having fun, a weary eye was kept on the tent to make sure it was still there. More groups turned up as the evening wore on with the latest at around eleven pm. A very windy night ensued.
Sunday morning, bright and early, we waited for the sun to rise and were not disappointed by the display. The wind, if anything, was worse so we headed down to the carpark, after a small detour to look at Triplex hut, and onto Waipawa for a lovely brunch. A huge thanks to Dave for his driving over.
Participants Gill Tate, Dave & Jill Wilding, Denys Gayton, Donna Gordon, Jenny Verschaffelt