John, Pierre and I had been beavering away for months before this event, investigating ways of letting the public know about the NSTC Open Day. We ended up with multiple radio slots, newspaper, stuff.co.nz, flyers at Bivouac and even a mention on wildernessmagazine.co.nz, plus a few other avenues. Creating a solid spike in hits to our website!!! Excellent!!!
About a week out from the event, I started receiving a healthy volume of calls from prospective trampers. Many and varied tramping experience, from a fair bit, to absolutely none, but keen to join in.
We'd been eagerly watching the long range forecast. Knowing that if the weather decides not to play ball, we might be lighter on numbers than we hoped for. Sunday the 6th of May, duly rolls around, and we're granted a perfect cool morning, devoid of any dark imposing clouds, thankfully!!!
Committee members there early to greet the newbies. The parking fills up fast as club members and newbies arrive. All present and correct, with 25 newbies in tow, I do the usual sort of pre-amble, and we break the sizeable group into 5 teams with a leader. Each team heads off onto the newly re-aligned, re-gravelled, 2 lane highway, or it is as far as Dacre Cottage. If you haven't been on the walkway in the last few months, next time you visit, you'll understand what I mean.
Only a small separation between groups, but enough to keep tabs on the groups. My group cope well with all of the new steps. As soon as we reach the ascent to Karapiro Bay, we're blasted by a brisk wind. All groups meet up at Dacre Cottage for a quick morning tea. No loitering though, so each group heads off around to Still Water for early lunch.
Not long after we arrive the Auckland Tramping Club walk past en masse! I counted 27 of them.
Lunch devoured, we head back around, on the sand this time, with the ideal low tide at 1.04pm. Reaching the sand bar, we head back into the sheltered bush for the return trip.
A very successful event, with a delightful bunch of newbies. We hope they return soon for other tramps!!
Just a few kilometres north of the Karangahake Gorge and just over halfway down the Thames-Paeroa highway Maratoto Road heads eastward into the Coromandel Ranges from Hikuwai.Three quarters of the way along this no exit road we stopped to view and take photos of Mount Maratoto,a very steep rock thrusting up at an angle that looked way to steep to climb to the top.
There is a way up via a relatively okay unofficial track that could take you a long time to find unless you knew where to start. Fourteen trampers made their way up this track to re-group at the three quarter mark. Nine decided to take the final very steep section to the summit. Stunning views from both points of the Coromandel Ranges and the Hauraki Plains. Also a view back down to the end of Maratoto Road where the club bus looked like a little yellow spot on the landscape. Back down again to have lunch at the bus before tackling part two, the out and back tramp through to the former Golden Cross Mine.
Between 1895 and 1920 the mine produced just over two and a half tonnes of gold. Seventy years later the mine was re-opened both underground and open pit and produced a further twenty tonnes of gold and fifty two tonnes of silver before it's planned closure in 1998.The government of the day held a $12million Bond from the mining company that ensured the area was rehabilitated back to it's pre-mining state. The area is now used for grazing, wetland and native habitat.
The route mainly follows the course of the Maratoto Stream and we criss-crossed this several times as we climbed up and over the bush clad hills to emerge into farmland with lots of sheep grazing on the slopes. Time and light dictated that we did not stay to long here but most opted to go as far as the very picturesque tailings lake for another photo opportunity.
This area can also be accessed via the road-end at Waikino so we had done this in the only fair way true trampers should.
Up to this point we had all stayed together as a group, however ,now there was some familiarity with the route, a fast group led by Roger took off for the return journey whilst the remainder took a more leisurely pace back with me.
A great day out in the bush but worth the four hours of driving to explore an area pretty much new to everybody. The weather was very good which assisted in successfully summiting Mount Maratoto as bad weather usually means having to abandon this climb.
Overall tramp time was close to six hours, however,the pace was not fast and no one in the group had done the route before apart from Imogen and myself. When we do this again it maybe possible have fast and medium groups dependent on whether we have some trampers returning from this or the time we did this in 2011. Berhard did a sterling job of driving us both ways and had us all safely back at The Strand around 7pm.