Now it's Winter, the weather patterns aren't on our side. Upon arrival to greet everyone at Cornerstone Drive (the bus wasn't required as it's so close), we had generous amounts of liquid sunshine! The precipitation proved to be somewhat of a nuisance to start with whilst I was trying to sign in 14 hardy club members, using the boot of the car like a trap door spider with the sign in sheet shielded inside!
Throughout the Albany area tracks, there are no topographical maps, and somewhat of a maze of tracks, so we moved as one
group for our 9am departure. We cross Oteha Valley Road and head along the path with the stream on our right, and past the Kawai Purapura centre (the old Centrepoint grounds). Today I elected that we wouldn't do the old grounds area as the decent down is almost vertical, and you swing from tree to tree to descend, and after last night’s deluge, best not to.
We pass along the bush path noting how much of the bank has disappeared after last night’s flash flooding, with the stream level still about 1 metre higher than normal. We head over the bottom end of Gills Road and up the eastern side of the regenerating tree clad hill of Gills Reserve. Breaking out of here and a brief road bash heading up to the Albany Scenic Reserve, having
mostly stopped raining. Albany Scenic Reserve is only 1.2kms long, but it's worth the visit, as it's very pretty, if you don't mind steps and at certain times there are native orchids and lilies. At the bottom of thefirst descent there is a significantly large Kauri (fenced off), that is still looking reasonably healthy given the number of deceased Kauri trees that line the track, along with the healthy specimens. We complete our second ascent, depart the forest onto the road track to complete the loop that takes about 45 minutes and head back down Gills Reserve.
The western side of the Gills Reserve still has many substantial trees & Nikaus remaining that managed to escape the handsaw. Rendering it quite the rainforest today, with everything dripping and seeping with diamond coloured raindrops.
Working our way down the hill, walking parallel to Lucas Creek to see Albany Falls in raging in full roar looking rather spectacular after the torrential rain during the night!
Across the road interesting signs explaining Albany's history going back to 1838, mostly tied in with Kauri logging when the area was still known as Lucas Creek up to 1890. Reaching Kell Park for lunch, where at the end of summer the old orchard trees are in full fruit! I think I picked the wrong time of year for this walk! Nothing nicer than a fresh apple, pear, grape or plum from the original orchard to nosh on whilst walking.
No rest for the wicked, over the Kell Park western bridge so the others know where to go to for the Three Streams track off Twin Court, just off The Avenue. We didn't have time for this part. Back tracking over the parks southern bridge over Lucas Creek, and we're parallel to the creek again, for about an hour on the mixed grass verge and gravelled tracks. We reach one of the roads off Bass Road, and then head along. Reaching the Albany Highway intersection, half of the group peel off and head back to the cars. The remaining 6 of us, head to bush behind the Massey University MTB tracks. Somewhat of a relief reaching the stream we must cross to gain access to this entrance to the tracks, as I suspect the narrow concrete ford would have been impassably submerged if we'd have been 2-3 hours earlier!
This time we're running parallel to Oteha Stream. Reaching one part we climbed a bit due to the wash that had been through. 3 of us elected the fun of scrambling back down the muddy, sparsely clad bank to reconnect to the stream path, and the other 3 elected to head upwards through the Supplejack to find a track and meet us at Bush Road. We hotfooted it back along the stream path, reaching Bush Road, 150 metres up the road, and across the stile onto track again, hearing rustlings in the bush the other 3 appear! We disappear into bush wending our way along the muddy, slick tracks, finally descending back down to the other end of Oteha Stream again, and along. Reaching Albany Highway again, I slightly stuffed up and headed us back to Albany Village past Albany High school, whereas we should have gone left 100 metres to head back along paths to Kell Park! Oh well, the others didn't mind, as the lure of coffee was calling, as they were suffering withdrawal symptoms not having had the traditional caffeine fix to commence the day with!
in all, about 6 3/4 hours and if the weather had been good, or dry we could have
easily done 9 hours plus! There is a lot of accessible bush around
Albany. Most of the group were staggered how extensive bush and
Our group of 18 trampers headed north from Takapuna at the appointed time on Friday night. The weather forecast looked promising so our spirits were particularly high. The bus trip north was uneventful with a comfort stop at Whangarei. Along the way we picked up Viv, Eileen and Rob, As always most of us dozed off during the later stage of the ride only to be woken by
twists, turns and bumps as we neared the end. The quiet and scenic Rawhiti.
With so many on board, the bus was a bit cramped for sleeping so Helen took the cab while two slept in the sin bin and two tented. At about 4am I was rudely awoken by a wretched rooster who didn’t know rooster conventions. After a short burst
of crowing there was silence but not for that long! Typical male, he had to remind the world who was boss about every half hour!
With everyone awake by the time it was light and being able to use the facilities at the Marae campground, we were well under way with breakfast followed by tramping preparations, in plenty of time. Very efficient.
The hard party, which would be walking for 6 to 8 hours, had left by 8.30. The remaining 9 of us were to be picked up by the water taxi around 9.30am. We were ready in plenty of time so wandered down to the beautiful beach to enjoy the peace and tranquillity there. We needed to remove our boots in order to wade to the boat and climb on board.
We were treated to some amazing scenery during the journey by water taxi to Deep Water Cove. The sea was glassy and calm, making the step from boat to land relatively easy. Once on land we made our way to the sign marking the starting point and organised ourselves.
A big uphill to begin with, which had our hearts racing. There were a lot of steep ascents and descents, with a couple of high, narrow, short ridges to walk along. Steep drops are common along this track as are the fantastic views.
Finally, with a glimpse of the light house, we knew we were near the end. There was our target, the Lighthouse Keeper’s House, at the bottom of a long hill. We decided to take short cuts across the corners rather than wending our way in zig zag fashion. There was the usual race to the door to get the best bunks first. My route was impeded by some bricks and other rubbish that I hadn’t noticed when I chose my track. L. It took first three of us two hours and ten minutes. Lynda and Rob were next, the first of the long party, taking just over seven hours. The others all drifted in at various times by 4.40pm. Initially we were the only ones at the hut. Later a young, solo girl arrived as well as a young couple.
The afternoon was spent in various ways, partly depending on arrival time. The views were awesome and there were places to walk, sit and relax in. Phil and Anthony went fishing and caught some fish. So delicious freshly caught. There was much socialising throughout the afternoon and evening.
Quite a few had brought tipples to share. Lynda’s port was superb and Michelle’s feijoa liqueur was delicious (we have the recipe), as was the chocolate cake. Thanks, Michelle. As we had no need to take tents, mattresses, gas stoves and canisters we were able to take those little extra treats. Packs were no lighter than usual! There were not so many dehy meals in evidence. The water was fine for cooking.
A hint; be careful whereabouts under the spouting you place your boots. One of our party put hers under a hole which dripped condensation leading to wet socks and boots! Wouldn’t have thought of that one! Katie decided the best place for her socks was the gulley trap. I know “what happens in the hut stays in the hut” but……if you want to keep secrets the thing is to write the trip report.
My lips are sealed. Come on the multi day trips to experience the camaraderie.
The next day, Sunday, was a lazy one with people doing a range of activities. A few went for a longer tramp of several hours while others were content to walk the immediate area, read, snooze and fish. Bernhard, Phil and Anthony went fishing from the rocks during which time much interest was shownby a small shark and a seal. Anthony caught a couple of fish which he cooked and shared. Along a section of the rocks were many veins of quartz running at right angles to the land. Some were quite open.
In the hut is a lot of written and photographic information about the lighthouse, houses and keepers. Very interesting. Some amazing photos of waves sweeping over an extremely high point. There was one folder about a surprise wedding that had taken place there too.
Up by 5.30am on the Sunday with the communal water on to boil for breakfast. We left earlier than we had planned, at 6.45am. A track with steep, abrupt inclines and fantastic views of islands and sea.
The first of us arrived back at the bus at 12.30pm, with the last group coming in at 2.10pm. The first people in had time to have a quick shower using the Marae Camp Ground facilities. The hot water urn was turned on so that everyone could have a hot drink when they arrived, before the trip home. The weather was perfect for tramping; dry and overcast so it wasn’t too hot. Then a burst of sunshine once we all had arrived. We were fortunate that it was dry, as some parts of the track would be tricky when
wet due to the steepness and muddiness.
The bus left Rawhiti at 2.55pm, much earlier than anticipated due to the early start in the morning. We stopped at McDonalds in Whangarei for an early dinner then continued to Takapuna with a clear run traffic wise.
An awesome trip thanks to Helen the organiser and to Helen and Bernhard for driving. A tramp not to be missed!
Great that nineteen trampers took off for Cape Brett. Meanwhile, reviving an old club tradition of having a day walk while the others were away for the weekend, eight of us met up at the Strand for a coastal trip. As it was low tide it was a good day to walk the coast into Devonport, then up North Head and Mt Vic where we had lunch with a million dollar view. It was so clear you could see for ever- but not quite as far as Cape Brett!
After lunch we headed to Ngataringa bay and looped back to Takapuna taking the coast again from Hauraki. Plans had to be changed a bit as the council is re doing the bridge at the Bayswater cemetery- now shut for five months.
A good long walk – thanks to those who turned up to keep me company. We reminisced re the evening trip we did with ATC some years back – walking into Devo and having food at the Masonic. The Masonic is sadly being converted into apartments now but there are lots of other eateries for a similar summer trip!
Mother’s Day produced magnificent weather, and on a day where many club members would no doubt be spending quality time with their mothers, I expected and got about the number I thought I would on the day.
Fourteen of us started from the end of Anawhata Road and went a short way down the road towards Anawhata House before going up to the rocky lookout that gives great views of Anawhata Beach, Anawhata Stream, and Parera Bay beyond .Also of Anawhata House snuggled in the bush hillside.
After crossing Anawhata Stream where it flows to the sea we made our way up the sand dunes and along a 'not on the map' track that started out well maintained but was a bit grown over by the time we reached Cannibal Creek. From here on until we reached Kuataika Track later in the day it was a bit hit and miss and bordering on bush bashing in parts as there are no real defined tracks. A matter really of not straying too far from the creek and later from the stream, however, there were one or two small bits of backtracking as we determined the best way to go forward. The sort of tramp you take at slow speed so as to not get lost.
However, this is all part of the challenge and interest when you do a tramp like this.
We eventually made it to the Cannibal Waterfall where I promptly managed to fall off a slippery rock and give my right leg a bit of a battering. Some significant swelling that subsided later in the day but at least I gave a good demonstration on what not to do in these sort of areas. Thanks, Peter, for breaking my fall.
Backtracking then a short way before making our way up and around to a nice grassy area near the top of the falls for lunch on a gloriously sunny cloud free autumn day.
A great southerly view from here with the Kuataika Trig clearly visible on the skyline.
More backtracking after lunch and part way back down Cannibal Creek to where it splits to the left as Kuataika Stream. We slowly made our way south not straying too far from the stream and with minimal backtracking we eventually broke through to intersect with Kuataika Track. The intersection point left us with just over half of this quite lengthy track plus Anawhata Farm to tramp back to the bus.
We split into two groups here with Garry and Trish heading up a fast party of six and the remaining eight a medium party with me.
Kuataika Track has some quite steep sections and at the end of this track walking back across the relatively flat Anawhata Farm was a rather pleasant way to end what had largely been an off track experience to an area that was new to most.
Our thanks to Helen for her back to back driving two weeks in a row.
Friendly Kaipo Robin
Orange Kaipo River
Kaipo River Bottom
Prologue: “NSTC. 31/3/13. party of 4 to OAMARU VALLEY 10.0AM-returning today. Looks like there are 3 bunks available in southern bunk room. “ indistinguishable signature here.
After the usual long haul from Takapuna, those of us who were asleep were woken by the long time bumping and twisting of the bus, as we neared our destination. What good luck. An ablutions room! Well in reality, the usual DOC type toilet.
After breakfast the next morning, the five participants of the medium party were sorted and rearing to go. Our first journey of 4 to 5 hours was from Clements Mill Road to the Cascades Hut. There were some hills to get our heart rates up as well as some flat tracks to lull us into a false sense of “yeah, this is great”.
Beautiful bush with a thick carpeting of beech leaves underfoot made for a very pleasant tramp. The tracks were easy to follow and walk on. Many photographic opportunities of awesome bush and river scenes slowed the trip a “little”. J. Care needed to be taken towards the end of this day; a certain member of our party who had been reasonably restrained until now, decided to show his true colours. All of a sudden Garry and I were shoved out of the way as this person ( a male member of the club for some time with his name beginning with P) decided that to get a bunk, preferably a bottom one, was his “raison d’etre”. No holds barred apparently!
The Cascades Hut is an older, smaller hut. Very smokey smelling inside; particularly at a short distance from the ceiling which Viv and I discovered. The distance party was already ensconced in the hut and around it. A couple had pitched their tents with two of our party doing likewise.
There was the usual finding out about the other party’s tramp and who had what, especially regarding new equipment. There are some very light tents available; at a price. Following a delicious meal, the making and consuming of which was the main highlight, we went to bed.
The next morning; breakfast, packing, discussing who were the snorers and cleaning up. The distance party left, with our party following a short time later. Roger (distance party) decided that carrying his polar fleece was far too much weight so left it behind. We did go flat tack to try to catch up and Pierre bellowed out a lot but to no avail. So Garry was the good Samaritan, carrying it until we met up with them on day three.
The second day’s tramp involved a lot of going down stream in the Kaipo Valley, through shallow water, over slippery rocks, and under, over and around quite a number of windfalls. Fortunately someone keen on chain sawing had passed by making the trip an easier one, as there were many windfalls. We came across several hunters with dogs, throughout the day and had a quick chat with each. The hunters not the dogs!
One of the photographic opportunities we passed was what would be, when the rains came, an amazing set of rapids. The rocks seemed to be carved into sleek curves reminiscent of Maori weaponry. They looked as if a huge boulder had been dropped straight down and shattered into many pieces, keeping to a jig saw like arrangement. The photos don’t do them justice. Worth walking up from the Tikitiki Stream Junction just to see them if the trip didn’t lead past them.
The afternoon was wearing on so we decided to begin looking for a camping site. We passed a very promising looking one but decided that as the junction was only a few minutes away, we would continue and camp there. However, the best site was already taken by hunters so we returned a few hundred metres to the one we had passed.
A lovely site next to the river so washing was the order of the day. After pitching tents and getting organised we did a little social interaction followed by the evening meal anticipation, preparation and consuming. No guesses as to what was on the menu. Some had the gourmet version of dehy meals with a mixed reception as to taste. Sachet hot chocolate is a comforting end to the evening before bed. Could be made with hot milk in winter too; using milk powder.
With day three came the odd moment of light rain. Tricky trying to pick the best time to pull down and pack up the tents. After breakfast we set off towards Oamaru Hut. A lovely tramp along the river and through beautiful bush. An easy walk through undulating forest. Upon arrival at the hut we met three people who were staying there, having been helicoptered in. They were walking out the same way as us the next day.
We also found, on the table, a cryptic note. Hence the prologue. What was the meaning of this!?
Luckily there were plenty of bunks so no need to pitch tents, although some did put theirs out to dry. As Garry and I were getting organised the distance party wandered up. The usual who did what, when and where. Oh, and of course, the reclaiming of lost property. This was quite funny as once the distance party had left the rest of us were checking to see if they had left anything behind again. Next minute Lynda came racing back up the track, grabbed her raincoat and took off. I don’t think she will live that down in a hurry. Lol.
The rest of the medium party had arrived before this, in raincoats, which the rest of us had managed to avoid. The easy party arrived as well, having enjoyed an explore up the valley. The medium party walked down to the river and participated in such activities as skimming stones and trying to hit a large, floating, pumice rock which was being swept slowly downstream. After this Pierre and Viv decided to explore up the valley too.
The rest of the afternoon was given to chatting and socialising. Odd references were made to bottoms, mush…. and l…l… Can’t put too much in here cos “What happens in the hut, stays in the hut”.
It took a lot to distract everyone ensuring that dinner was not going to be eaten at 4.30pm! I had to be very firm and authoritarian but even so some began boiling water just before 5.30pm!
The next day we set off a bit behind the easy party. A lovely tramp across the river flat, through the forest then along forest roads. We caught up with the easy party and had morning tea. A bit of confusion at one point regarding which way to go. Although either would still get you to the correct place in the end. Also the easy party misplaced one of their group. I will leave it to them to tell that story. J
After a long road bash we saw the colour yellow. Yay. Clothes changing, billy boiling then on to collect the distance party. It was great to see Ian and Marilyn Morris on the trip.
An awesome tramp, thanks to Roger for organising it, Garry for leading the medium party and the drivers Bernhard and Ian. Thanks heaps.
EASTER KAIMANAWAS Roger
A keen group of thirteen trampers set off on Thursday night for the rugged hills of the Kaimanawas. And the dry summer weather continued.
Our distance Party - Ian G, Lynda, Roger and Phil started from the end of Clements Mill Road and climbed over the hill to Cascade Hut for the first night. We arrived in good time and some of the party set up their tents. Almost an hour later the Medium Party arrived in dribs and drabs. Pierre was a drib and raced to get a bunk in the hut. No hunters so lots of room for everyone. Peter distributed a medicinal toddy and Pierre lightened his 24kg pack with some light refreshments for all.
Saturday broke fine and we set off at 8.30am up the valley and then climbed slowly up the 800 metres to the Mangaorungi high point at 1435 metres , just above the bush-line. The morning mist cleared and we had our lunch admiring the full extent of the Kaimanawas and the distant Kaweka
It was downhill after lunch - well not quiet. Ridges always have their ups and downs and ours was no exception. It seemed like more ups than downs but that was impossible. DOC had marked the track well and there were no navigational problems. After almost 8 hours we finally dropped down to a beautiful camp-site in the Oamaru Valley.
The third day was a easy walk down the valley. We meet the slow party midmorning on their day excursion. Once out of the bush a light rain set in and we donned our raincoats for the only time on the trip. Oamaru Hut had half the Medium Party in residence so we stopped for lunch. ( Thank you Gary for carrying my fleece- left behind the previous day at Cascade Hut, "Beyond the call of Duty". ) It was an easy stroll up the lower Kaipo Valley to a camp site at the confluence of the Kaipo River and the Tiki Tiki Stream.
Another restful night under canvas and we set off up the gently graded Te Iringa track, past the old hut site and down to the waiting bus.
A lovely break and the Kaimanawas at their best.
Thank you to the drivers Ian G and Bernhard. And to the leaders Brian, Gary and Ian.
This was the usual trip to this area – with a twist due to having to plan around track closures because of kauri die back disease. From North Piha we set off along the beach to Whites beach taking in the magnificent views from the lookout en route. Down the ropes to Whites Beach then up the unofficial track to the site of the old Auckland university hut burnt down long ago and featured in the book Hut and Headland which we have in the club library. A fascinating account of trips to the Waitakeres in the past and the long walk involved in even getting to the Waitakeres- visits by notables like Lucy Cranwell the botanist who has a track named after her. The site is marked by a plaque.
Then on to the Anawhata road and back down the Rose track. We didn’t stop in the usual spot by the stream for lunch – the one before the Nikau grove. This should have alerted me to the fact that Roger, our intrepid leader, was pressing on as there was a lot of ground to cover………………
Up and down, on and on via the Maungaroa ridge track to Usshers cross (eventually) and out to the Piha road where the bus was waiting for us. There were a few other tracks we should have done but Roger had mutiny from the ranks who took a short cut to get back to the bus by 4 o’clock. A good natured mutiny, of course.
Peter’s GPS told us we had covered over 16 km over some reasonably demanding tracks so it had been a good tramp. Thanks to Garry for organising the 25 trampers who turned out and to Campbell for driving us and leading the slow party on a good adventure. Phew! A hot day too……………….
On Saturday 16th March our group of 20 people all made it through the DOC biosecurity check at Warkworth and down to Leigh Harbour for the trip across to Little Barrier or Hauturu. Cyclone Sandy was kind to us and we had a slightly bumpy but otherwise successful hour-long passage. Light drizzle kept the island hidden from view but this cleared after landing at about 10.30am. A rubber dinghy ferried us to the beach composed of large rounded boulders and fringed with pohutukawas. We were welcomed by the resident ranger Richard and his wife Leigh and given a second quarantine check inside a special hut on the beach.
Lyn Wade of Little Barrier Supporters' Trust was our guide for the walk and pointed out all manner of flora and fauna. The bush was teeming with singing bellbirds and tuis. We also heard and saw saddlebacks, kakas, fantails, robins, whiteheads and the rare yellow-crowned parakeet. Recent dry weather had brought some of the island's brown kiwi out to feed during the day and we disturbed one of these on the track much to our surprise! The forest was full of Kauri - largely untouched except the lower slopes that were logged in the 1880's. We continued on a soft carpet of moss to the highest point on Thumb ridge for lunch and then came back down another ridge to a breathtaking view from sheer cliffs across clear water to the boulder beach. We then followed a dry stream bed down a valley filled with very large lush nikau palms and came out on the flat again.
Then past an array of solar panels back to the ranger's house where we were treated to a feeding round at the baby tuatara enclosures. The island's tuatara population reached such a critical point a few years ago that a breeding program was established with great success. The ranger's son Liam showed us his museum which included a fascinating collection of rocks, kauri gum, bones and shells found on the island. At 4:00 pm we re-loaded our gear and were shuttled out to the waiting dive boat. Our fellow passengers had been diving whilst we tramped and had caught quite a few crayfish. The trip back was smoother and faster thanks to a following sea. We arrived dry, happy and content with no seasick passengers at about 5:00pm ready for the drive back to Auckland.
Another brilliant day as we set off, in the bus, to Pararaha. Sitting up front with Campbell the driver, helping with the navigation (yes, I was making sure that the navigator gizmo was error free), was much more comfortable than in the back benches. The twists and turns of the road to Piha and down Lone Kauri Road made for some interesting experiences due to some of the other road users not comprehending the complexities and safety in driving on this narrow, winding road.
After arriving at the car park, we split into the 3 groups. Some of us didn’t realise, to our slight detriment, the implications of the word “wet”. It doesn’t pay to take a mobile not sealed in a waterproof bag, as Phil soon found out. Also the phrase “none or very little rock climbing involved” is very much depending on the individual’s interpretation. In other words there was a lot of both of both wet and rock climbing.
We headed off up then down the lovely and relatively easy track. It didn’t take long until we began to get very hot. At this stage we were grateful that we were heading to the water. A snack when we reached the shelter before heading up the stream. It was very refreshing walking through the water. We made good time following the stream which still had enough water in it to make it interesting and cool.
Vision into the water was tricky as there was a lot of sun reflection and shadow but we managed to navigate over the underlying surface with little bother. Only rarely did we walk alongside the stream. This was usually due to a waterfall that we were unable to climb up
We had lunch at a beautiful spot in the sun, beside the water. After this break, which warmed us up, we were initially strangely reluctant to get wet again. That is apart from “Waterman” who made a beeline for the deepest water every time. We waded through varying levels of water ranging from ankle to shoulder depth. Deeper than that and we swam. Something which we did on quite a few occasions. So refreshing but a little unnerving with boots on.
We climbed up quite a few rock faces beside waterfalls. Some a bit difficult and requiring the climber be rendered some assistance. Thanks to those who did help even if it was simply taking a leki pole out of the way during a climb. I didn’t realise that Lynda was in training for weight lifting at the Olympics! And I am not meaning in taking a pole out of the way! There was one gap to climb up which was almost like a chimney. Luckily there were many hand and foot holds to use.
There were many others on the tracks mostly coming down. Quite a few people were making the most of the cool, deep pools, swimming and jumping in from, what seemed to be, great heights.
If anyone is going to walk this, keep an eye open for Campbell’s watch and Phil’s sunglasses. Both expensive items for which I am sure there would be a reward. J
A different tramp with enough challenges to make it an interesting and enjoyable day, through a beautiful and scenic area. How lucky we are to have this on our doorstep!
Thanks to Pierre the organiser, Campbell the driver and to Lynda who took up the role of overseer of our group.
This walk took in the biennial sculpture show on the Headland near Matiatia- and was the final part of our walk. 24 trampers took part in this little expedition enjoying the coastal views and art. I took the shorter group and we arrived in Oneroa at 11.30 – perfect time for either swimming or coffee. Some of the group had never walked the lovely track via Island Bay via the vineyards to Oneroa and seemed suitably impressed by the great views over to Rakino and beyond.
Lunch on Blackpool beach then on via the well marked track up to Church bay road via the trig to Pio Rehuatai reserve then heading back to the coast at Church bay for the final stretch to Matiatia and the art works.
In spite of my dire predictions of huge crowds it wasn’t too bad getting tickets – thanks to those who turned up very early at 8 am to the Fullers ticket area This was actually shut for some time- you were good company for coffee anyway! As there were huge crowds in the week when I explored the route I was taking with the slower party I can only observe that human behaviour is most unpredictable!
The morning was overcast with a very fine misty rain but that did not deter 29 trampers ( including 14 non members ) from fronting up to do this interesting route in and around Muriwai.
First up the cliff steps at the southern end of the beach to take a look at the gannet colony. A couple of good sized viewing platforms looked out over the cliffside and the banks were full of 100's of birds all cheek to jowl with virtually no free spaces left.
After this great photo opportunity we climbed up through Quarry and Edwin Mitchelson track's to Oaia Road. Northwards along this road was the compulsory road bash that provided the link to Houghton's farm, via Houghton's Bush Camp where we sprayed our boots as a kauri dieback precautionary exercise and had a quick drink stop. We then headed out the back of the camp and down Houghton's Bush track to the farm. Access through this privately owned farm had been pre-approved some months earlier and it is fitting to note that Glen Houghton has a reputation of freely allowing various groups to walk through his very picturesque farm.
After crossing a short swampy area we stopped for a group photo with Lake Okaihau as a backdrop. This is a rather beautiful lake with large areas of colourful water lilies around the perimeter, again providing further photo opportunities.
The route took us past the seaward side of the lake and shortly after leaving the farm we stopped for lunch under a large tree on the banks of the Okiritoto Stream. By now the weather had changed completely with fine sunny and humid conditions replacing the morning mist.
After lunch we split into two groups with Roger taking a fast party of seven on ahead and with the remainder staying together with me.
We basically followed the stream as it meandered north westwards to exit at the northern end of Coast Road and the southern end of the Woodhill Forest. A road bash along unsealed forestry trails eventually brought us to the base of Pulpit Rock so named for it's similarity to a church pulpit particularly when viewed from the trail below. A very distinctive skyline rocky outcrop.
Not wishing to let the group off too easily we took the direct route to the top, bush bashing and scrambling our way up the very steep side, to be rewarded with magnificent views across the pine forest tree tops to the beach, surf and Tasman Sea beyond.
Roger's group had summited some time before us and went exploring further norwards into the forest before returning back along the beach to the bus.
Heading south back along the beach we encountered a rather welcome cool breeze.
After setting a departure time some 30 minutes hence a few trampers decided on a nice cold swim whilst others took advantage of the local cafe to get cold drinks etc.
Our driver for the day Bernhard had us back at The Strand at around 5 pm.
A January tramp that had a bit of everything and one that has proved to be very popular for the last few years and will no doubt most likely become an annual fixture.