I awoke at 7.0 a.m. to spy a grey drizzly sky, necessitating a change of gear arrangements.
Meanwhile, at 7.0 a.m. in the bus garage the organisers, led by Elizabeth Kinnell and Ian "Shorts" Morris were stoically preparing gear for a good day out.
At the Strand, eleven stalwarts were gleefully transported to Army Bay where four other trampers had arrived. Raincoats were donned over Christmassy clothing (but not Imogen's antlers!}, then all except organisers set off through the new predator-free- fence's double gate, and traipsed around the Point. Coats were soon off and everyone enjoyed the freshness of the air, the white newly-shorn sheep, the red and green of the varieties of Pohutukawa, and the convivial company. Funny that the swimming was mentioned, but only in passing.
As ordered, we arrived back at the bus just after 12.0 p.m., perfectly timed, as then the rain started and stayed. We settled under the canopy for a delightful shared barbequed sausages, lunch and drinks. Twas a typical Kiwi party - boys in the "kitchen" and girls sitting around the food. Still, can't complain - they cleaned up too.
The journey home was a bonus too - no traffic queues on the wet Sunday motorway, so back to the Strand around 3.30 p.m. A really worthwhile picnic, thanks Elizabeth and Brian.
(At least there was no snow!)
The day started as it meant to go on, right from leaving Takapuna! Only 11 of us prepared to braved the elements, but I'm sticking to the theory it's near to Christmas and everyone is busy racing around.
Arriving at Karekare everyone dons their raincoats, and boy we will need them today! Both groups head up Ahuahu Track, and our group of 5 head up to the gate on Log Race Road, to admire the view of the rugged, dramatic cliffs, but they were behind a blanket of rain blasting its way across the valley. Back down to the junction to head into the Mercer Bay Loop Track, normally, I do say normally incredible views. Even Coman's Track which normally offers stunning views over Mercer Bay and back down to towards Karekare Beach, you guessed, was saturated. We managed to find a big Pohutukawa Tree with massive limbs to attempt to shelter under to devour lunch.
We knocked off the rest of Ahuahu, then headed up the road to link into Taiaire Track. The Karekare Falls surprisingly wasn't as vigorous as one might expect given the weather conditions, it still would have made a lovely photo, if I'd have been brave enough to exhume the camera from my pack. A waterproof camera is required for days like this! No loitering, and up the hill under the canopy of trees, providing us with a bit of cover. A couple of impressively sized boulders one being held in place by significantly large Pohutukawa roots, the other absolutely covered in native lilies clinging to the face. We reach the La Trobe Track junction, expecting to have to retrace our footsteps, as La Trobe was currently closed due to Kauri Dieback trial. But to our surprise, it's only the upper section of La Trobe that's closed, so we complete the loop down lower La Trobe Track back to the bus.
We were very grateful of our raincoats today, both as shelter from the wind as much as from the rain. Although it's been a sodden day in the boots, rain literally dripping down your legs and making the insides of your boots wet, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day and virtually no mud! Rough weather just puts a different spin on things. Everything is gleaming, raindrops on the leaves, trees, tracks, water dripping off everything, sheer cliffs, native lilies and orchids in full bloom everywhere, not to mention moody skies. So if in future you plan to do a particular tramp and the weather is inclement, come and give it a go anyway, you never know, you might actually enjoy the variation.
The first day trips of the year have been well supported – 15 on Dora’s Takapuna to Long Bay trip and, on 15th January a huge 33 for Ian Bumper’s trip to Muriwai.
For the Muriwai trip we had it all – the gannet colony, the beach walk, an interesting walk through Houghtons bush and magnificent views from the Pulpit rock.
The Tararua trip was also successful and there will be more information on this in the March.