North Shore Tramping Club
We set off early on Friday night leaving Takapuna by 6.30pm and arrived at Karapiro Domain sometime after 9.00 pm, to settled into our well-appointed chalets for the night.
Saturday morning, when daylight broke, we were up early and organizing our breakfast in a slightly undersized kitchen given the size of eighteen attendees for this marvellous expedition. A quick look around the Domain for some of us, we could see what a large set up they have there to cater for all sorts of water sports and accommodation. We were on the bus and on our way to Maungatautari mountain before 8.30 am, the weather was a mix of broken cloud, fog, and sun, arriving at the mountain in no time at all we were greeted by a rather cold wind from the southwest. This did not cool our spirits any as we were excited to rip into it.
Our mission, the short party, was to climb Mount Pukeatua and return to either the café or continue to the Sanctuary Mountain bird enclosure. The distance party were to climb Pukeatua and carry on and climb Mount Maungatautari before returning to Big yellow. Interesting Maungatautari, consists of three volcanos, rock sample taken from Maungatauari matches the same DNA as Mt Ruapehu lying some 140 kilometres directly to the South of Maungatauari. There is also forty-seven kilometres of predator fence surrounding three thousand four hundred hectares, which makes it one of the biggest pest-proofed fences in the world.
It was a few minutes past the hour of 9.00 am with both parties leaving together, however it was not long before the distance party put some distance between our party of twelve. The track initially followed the predator fence along an access metalled track, before we were diverted off and into the bush, it was well-marked, muddy, and hilly in some places required scrambling, in general this was a rough track in places that would give us much fun and a good work out. The mountain was bush clad with areas of Kareao (supplejack), Kawakawa, Kapuka, Pungas, Totara, Kamahi and interesting, Pukatea a large tree that can grow to about thirty-five metres in height, identifiably by the base of its trunk which has plank-like buttresses.
We had managed to slip into our raincoats just before the summit, as we had sporadic showers visiting us as we neared the summit at about 11.00 am. On our arrival at the summit, we were protested by the call of a Saddleback warning all that we had arrived, by which time we had a fair bit of cloud cover, and the distance view was a bit clouded from the rocky outlet which was the summit. We could just see to the west of us the small Mount Kakepuku which lay between us and Pirongia. Being a bit early for lunch we retreated from the summit to have a short lunch stop at the base of the summit, and the turn-off we were to take to complete our loop.
The track we would follow was again a metal access track used for maintaining the area. We arrived back shortly after 1.00 pm and about ten and half kilometres later. While some of us retired to the café some of us visited the southern enclosure bird sanctuary the time of the day was probably not the best time to visit as the birds seem to be a little inactive from previous reports earlier in the day.
However, we did manage to spot the odd saddle back, Kaka, north island Robin, white heads and in the creek some Koura (freshwater crayfish).
The track was well maintained, easy and had lots of information, feeding stations and a lookout tower above the forest canopy. We manage to cover nearly five kilometres within the enclosure and by the time we got out the distance party had returned, and we were on our way back to our lodgings after a great day tramping.
Being the night of the All Blacks versus the Wallabies game, some of us went into nearby Cambridge for dinner and watch the game, with a small intermission before half-time because of a fire alarm at the local going off. I think that was the big event for Cambridge that evening?
Sunday morning found some, scrambling to arrange breakfast as we had a malfunction because of our undersized kitchen, which poor Roz had to try and sort with management. We had cleaned the kitchen and chalets and Roz had it all ticked of from management by 9.00 am and we were on our way home via the Te Tapui reserve about twenty kilometres south of Morrinsville for another delightful seven-kilometre loop track, the weather was gloriously fine, and we climb to the summit which had a lookout tower.
This was an easy little tramp, and the bush settings were just superb, truly a hidden little gem. It was one final coffee stop at Morrinsville before we were back in Takapuna in no time at all.
A Special thank you to Roz, for her hard work organizing this fantastic, memorable fun weekend before level 4 lockdown got us. HOW LUCKY WERE WE?
Thanks also to our drivers to Arletta and Colin.
It was a weekend that would promise us a fair bit of rain! It was the weekend that Westport copped the flooding.
We left Takapuna under a grey cloud covered sky, and headed towards the Whakamarama road carpark, on the eastern side of the Kaimai rangers, arriving in rain at about 11.30am. The forecast was for rain to ramp up at about midday and ease about 4.00pm, so we decided to have an early lunch in the shelter of the bus before heading off at 12 pm.
The distance party destination for day one was heading for the Mangamuka hut, and day two complete an outer loop back to the bus, the Te Whare Okioki hut party were to do the inner loop with day one staying the night at the new Te Whare Okioki hut. Both parties headed of along the Ngamuwhine track and on to the Leyland O'Brien tramway track, which was flat and straight, being an old tramway track. It allowed us to cover a great deal of distance quickly.
We passed the odd tram wheel along the way and saw visible signs of the tram track itself. The Whakamarama sawmill was established in the area in 1912 and had several owners and names until 1947, and then Ngahere sawmills of Greerton in Tauranga relogged the area from 1962 to 1975 when the forest park was finally established. By then, I would think it was well and truly deforested.
So, you can imagine today's bush is a lot of regrowth which is well established with Red and Silver Beech, mosses, fungi, flaxes, pungas and several species of ferns. It was fairly constant rain by the time we got to the Ngamuwhine stream crossing which we crossed without any problems, a short time later we were climbing very gently up passing through man made cutouts where the tram line passed through, there was a fair bit of surface water by this stage flowing down the track and in places, as we got a little higher a bit of mud and tree roots to navigate over but nothing hard, generally pretty easy terrain to tramp in and the track well defined.
It was about 3pm when the rain had stopped, and we were at the intersection to head on to the Mangamuka hut, just another one hour fifteen minutes away. The track to the hut from the intersection was again easy and well maintained, in fact it had recently been re cleared in the last few weeks of us arriving and slightly dryer under foot than what we had previous. We arrived at the Mangamuka hut about 4.15pm, some fifteen kilometres and four hours later from our departure.
The hut was a rustic four bunker, occupied by two friendly hunters out for a weekend hunt from farming in Dargaville. As there was not enough bunks and some of us were damp, we erected our tents while the rain held off before returning to the hut to cook dinner and some of us having ago at keeping the fire going, before heading to our tents for the night.
We awoke the next day to what would be a relatively fine day, packed up and set off about 8.30am. Heading down the Te Tuhi track and onto the Ngamarama track, the track again was undulating and easy going, mostly downhill all the way. We passed lovely clearings that would be ideal for camping, the sky was becoming clearer as we went, but the lower reaches of the track were becoming very muddy in some places. It was a short sharp drop down some stairs, and we were into the open and soon arriving at the bus to be greeted by the Te Whare party and sunshine. A total of twelve Kilometres in a time of three hours fifty.
Special thanks to our drivers Craig and Bernhard.
Arriving at Shakespear lots of cars already there in the tree planters zone, even through we were quite early. Once we'd been checked in and signed off the pre-registered list, we head over to the shoe dipping station and to our planting zone up the hill and back down into the gully. It was a bit of an adventure getting to the planting site, up over a large temporary turnstile and along temporary boardwalks over the reeds in the wetland and up the hill to the planting site! This adventurous entry due to where BBQ tents were set up, in the shelter on the flat away from the forecasted weather, that thankfully we were graced with sun and a clear day, bar a couple of brief raindrops! Super lucky!
The angle of the photo doesn't show how steep this tree planting site at Shakespear Regional Park actually was. Being good trampers, we headed straight up to the top of the hill with our spades.
4.5k trees planted in about 2 hours, just over 200 people. So many trees planted, they'd only expected to get just under 3k trees planted, but we busted through the ceiling in tree planting efficiency! I know our group got a very serious number of trees planted between our NSTC team! Well done!!!! Lots of people from the community as well, with lots of kids with their parents learning what it's all about.
Then of course we went for a couple of hours tramp around this spectacular park. Spotting all sorts of awesome native birds and a Kohekohe tree in full flower. They're a bit unique as they flower mostly on the stem of the tree, not at ends of branches like most trees. Another absolutely epic day out with the North Shore Tramping Club. Walked away feeling very satisfied that we'd done something so good for the environment, the community, and the gorgeous native wildlife and birds that inhabit these gullies. Cheers, Imogen
You have to love it when Big Yellow meets the organiser at the destination, and they say.... do you know about the waterfall!!?? Did you say waterfall! Here we were thinking we were in for a strut along the beach, but our organiser had this surprise for us. Waterfall first or last? First definitely!
We head north for a short distance, and then you spot the almost amphitheatre shape of the land and there's our waterfall! Very pretty! He moves up the well-worn, narrow sandstone track. And wow, you had to be there! You'd almost swear you'd transcended countries to Utah! The colour of the extremely wind beaten sandstone was just incredible and the shapes! So striking! But wait there's more! Way hay! Off we head up the weathered tracks to the lookout, sitting at probably 60-80 metres above sea level. A nice easy climb and the view, breathtaking! Mt Taranaki in the distant background, despite the haze and glowering cloud cover! Enjoying the views, all of a sudden one of the group lost their cap in the breeze!
Track that hat! The boys took off down the cliff into the scrub after the hat, spotted and retrieved! Enough excitement, the clouds still dark and foreboding, we bear south towards Port Waikato. Always lots to look at along the beach, fisherman and their catch, 4x4 clubs zooming around the dunes, motor cross bikes pulling stunts, plus a few small dead Sharks and Lemonfish. A bit more of a workout along the sand today, as there were quite a few soft spots! Much amusement for us all.
Arriving back at Big Yellow, all happy that it didn't rain, other than a few spits, after another totally awesome day out with the club! Cheers Imogen.
We had intended to do the Tawharanui Regional Park tree planting for the club day trip yesterday whilst the others were away at Tongariro, but due to dire forecast and driving up to Tawharanui, we decided that we'd do Birkenhead War Memorial Park tree planting for Arbor Day, seemed so appropriate. It was awesome to return and see the trees we'd planted last year absolutely thriving and to get lots more baby trees again this year.
Only 30 people at this planting, and 1000 trees planted! Good going considering there were quite a few kids. After scoffing a few hot sausages, naturally being a tramping club, we headed straight into the bush tramping afterwards on some really nice tracks with epic towering tree canopy above.
It might have been a bit of the liquid sunshine variety, but who cares, we didn't melt, due to good raincoats. Great atmosphere, doing something positively beneficial for the environment, community and creatures. If you missed out, come join in next time, you'll be hooked and go away buzzing! The even bigger buzz, is when you return next season to see how big your baby trees are! A few weekends ago the club bus was up at Tangihua up north, so we made the most of the opportunity to do the first tree planting of the season at Long Bay Regional Park, Birkenhead being the second. The Long Bay team were reasonably well organised, despite not having enough signage put up to locate the planting site, very quickly rectified with a few helpful comments. A good turnout of maybe 60 people and heaps of trees planted in a flat area and the obligatory bbq'd sausies afterwards. And you guessed it a walk up and over the always gorgeous Long Bay clift top walk. Cheers, Imogen
Thursday night and twenty club members climbed into the bus for the long weekend away on the mountain. The weather forecast was not encouraging…wind, rain and tempest….may be even a little snow. We got to our comfortable lodge by midnight with lots of room for everyone.
Our party of eight led by Peter Wortman (and John H., Alan, Kate, Keith Roz and Roger) had an early start to get up in time to catch the shuttle to Mangatepopo at 7.30am. No rain, a little wind and Tongariro and Ruapehu peeping through the cloud. We set off shortly after 8.00am. I was impressed with the upgraded track heading up the valley. It is many years since I had done the crossing and my memories were of a rough track scrambling over the rocks climbing up to the plateau.
Now it is mostly smooth and graded. And none of the crowds for which this track has become so famous. We only had a few hardy souls braving the weather. We set of at a steady pace up the hill with short stops for photos and water. At South Crater we needed another layer of clothing as there was a strong chill factor in the wind. Red Crater loomed ahead of us with a light covering of snow.
Part way up we stopped briefly for another layer of clothing. It was possible to climb up on the exposed rock and avoid the icy snow on parts of the track. More height and more wind. But what a dramatic landscape. The drama of the gash in the earth that is Red Crater always amazes me. Add in the wind and the cold and the mist ….. and you have the mountain showing its winter character. Just below Red Crater we hunkered down out of the wind for a little food and drink.
Then the fun run down the loose dirt to the Emerald Lakes. On past Blue Lake and down to the site of the old Ketetahi Hut for a late lunch. We contacted the shuttle firm and got a ride home shortly after 3.00pm. Our trip had taken 6.5 hours plus half an hour for lunch. What a great winter adventure. Our thanks to Peter for leading our trip, and many thanks to Roz for organising our weekend.
The weather forecast for this one did not change much over the Queen’s birthday weekend. Showers and gale force wind from the Northwest in exposed places. Saturday was always going to be the best day weather wise over the three days, and indeed it was.
Our trip plan was day one start from Whakapapa to the Tama Lakes, on route to Waihohonu hut. Day two, Waihohonu to Mangatepopo hut. Day three Mangatepopo hut return to Whakapapa and return to Takapuna.
Four of us keen and excited set of early on Saturday morning for our first destination, the Tama lakes. We started at the road end of Ngauruhoe terrace, which gave us a clear view ahead of the impressive 2287-meter, Mount Ngauruhoe. It was not long before we passed through a small enclave of beech tree forest and onto the tussock covered, vast looking open central plateau of Tongariro national park. The track to the Tama Lakes, as you can imagine was a very well-maintained benched track, of about 7 kilometres to the Tama lakes.
Arriving at an elevated view above the lower Tama lake. The catchment area, looked as if it was low on water, but it was at its normal level with a vast flat dry lake bed in the foreground, some of it in shade. The alpine plants on the banks surrounding the lake, were of red rustic and sporadic tinges of green colour’s bathed in the early morning rising sunlight. Stopping for a short time would make you cold, so we put on extra layers and made sure we had the appropriate gear, dumped our packs, as it made little or no sense to take them on the climb to the upper Tama lake.
It was not long before we had walked the first and steepest part of the ascent, before we were on a ridge with great views on either side, and just one more small climb to the top, and there we were elevated once more but this time it was the upper Tama lake that we had fixed our eyes upon. A somewhat bigger lake than the lower Tama, it gave us views of Mount Ngauruhoe, Mount Tama and hiding itself in the background under cloud, we had the tiniest peek of Mount Ruapehu’s summit intermittently. The Tama lakes interestingly occupy six craters that were created 10,000 years ago in an explosive period. It was getting windy and cold at the upper Tama, and it was not long before we were vacating the lakes before the main body of day walkers were arriving.
We headed back to the Tama lakes junction and soon were off the benched track heading to the east on a well-marked route towards Waihohonu hut. On the way we would drop into small gulley’s, that I would have guessed were formed by lava flows from Ruapehu long ago, the colour’s and numerous types of alpine plants and succulents in these small gully’s were like demarcation lines in the vast plateau, some areas we come to were of river sand like a desert and bare of plant life altogether and the odd small splattering of beach forests.As we pressed on further in the far distance, the Kaimanawa range came into view. We were nearing Waihohonu hut when we had to make the short detour to visit the old Waihohonu hut, the oldest hut in the park, built in 1904 there she was a red corrugated iron clad hut sitting nostalgically in a small clearing, one could just imagine it could tell a numerous story of times past, at one stage the stagecoach used to stop there. Looking at the graffiti carved into the front door, I could see some dating back to the 1940s and as far back as 1917. Ten more minutes on and some twenty-one kilometres later we arrived at the new and spacious Waihohonu hut at about 1.45pm in time for a late lunch, and to get a bed for the night. It did not take long to see why DOC had built a spacious hut, as other trampers started to arrive in large numbers, so much so that soon there were no more beds left and noticeably short on floor space to sleep on, we counted at least fifty odd people in the dining room, lucky we had grabbed our bunks early on.
The next day we awoke to a clouded morning and drizzle with no improvement on the latest local mountain forecast. We had to decide whether to push on further or abandon our original plan and return to Whakapapa. We had a few different alternative scenarios in mind, but they would involve a rather big last day and a late departure for the bus’s return to Auckland. With our safety at the forefront of our decision and the fact that we were not going to see too much at a higher altitude, we decided the thought of a hot shower and the company of the other parties at the lodge was very appealing.
So, we made our way back at a rather splendid pace via the Taranaki falls for a quick visit and admire the impressive volume of water coming over the falls from above. When you have a rainy and clouded day in Tongariro national park there is always something to do and sitting in the local hotel for lunch we were starting to feel very cosy and settled. We knew we had to vacate it and do a little extra trip, or we would have been self-incarcerated for the rest of the day.
So, we were off to view the Silica rapids. It was a return to the lodge to gear up, and we were off power walking ourselves toward the silica rapids and what a great trip it had to offer, into the beach forest we went and up to a boarded track over a large wetland and follow the stream onto the silica rapids. Absolutely a fine and most interesting site, rainwater and snow melts sink though fissures deep in the rocks and magma below, and basically picks up escaping gas from below, and now buoyant rises along a fault or large crack and absorbs minerals of silica and aluminium, then bubbles up to the surface through a spring at the base of a lava flow. It coats the surface of the rapids with a creamy white alumino-silica deposit up to three centimetres thick, giving it a look possibly like the pink and white terraces? But on a much smaller scale.
It was then a return to our lodgings for a hot shower, fine dining, and a comfy bed for the night before the journey back to Takapuna the next morning. In all a great adventure. A big thank you to Roz for organizing such an epic trip. Our expert drivers, Arletta and Craig.
Really quite excited we all loaded on the bus, finally getting the chance to go check out what the council track re-surfacing looks like on the Omanawanui Track! Excitement because the views from this track have always been nothing short of spectacular! Views across the lush Whatipu valley below, across the Manukau Harbour to the cliffs of Awhitu and the Lighthouse and out to sea over the treacherous Manukau Bar that has been responsible for the demise of many boats.
We drop the distance party off at their start point up the lovely Karamatura Track following the stream up the steep valley through to Whatipu to meet us.
Big Yellow arriving in the Whatipu Beach carpark we head off to start our accent up to the undulating ridgeline of the Omananui Track. The steps are well graded and sized about 15-18cms tall, not hard on the knees as some other new flights of stairs elsewhere that are well over 20cms. First track junction, and the others in my group have never visited Whatipu, so the Signal House Track views was a must do! Needless to say, they might have been a wee bit impressed with the views at the end of the track! Back tracking, and keep climbing! 3 people sitting at the first summit taking in the view. We find the first bit of boardwalk before gliding down the next flight of steps. Having a laugh about the joys of digital photography being just as well, given how many photos we'd already taken! Not all are goin' to be keepers. So excited to see that one tiny chain climb over a rocky outcrop has remained, just the way it's always been. Lots of fun! Yeehaa! Heading up the next flight of steps to the trig point at 241 metres, was a real wow moment as a really bright rainbow lit up the dark clouds, arching over the track with one pot of gold in the valley and the other disappearing into the sea. Nearing the end of the Omanawanui Track, we see what this particular track re-surfacing is about, a grove of reasonable sized Kauri. Pleased we'd done our bit for gear/boot hygiene to help protect the Kauri, we cleaned and scrubbed at the exit station as well.
Despite hearing from many people how gruelling all the new steps are, and there are a massive number of steps, the muscles were pretty chilled. One foot in front of the other, marching down to the black sand beach, the clouds brooding, looking more threatening we find a cool raised lump of sand to sit and enjoy the view, even though we shallow waded through the tide to get there.
Munching happily through our lunch, we started to pack up and those aforementioned brooding clouds burst in style! Not just rain, but hail! We're sitting on this bar of sand with no cover. Scrambling to get raincoats and laughing our heads off. Good times! Wading the tide again, onto the beach, and beach track towards the famous caves. https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/western-leader/74151776/whatipu-caves-buried-dance-floor-reveals-forgotten-history
The caves have a lot of history, including a wooden dance floor which is reputed to still be buried below the sand that is gradually filling the cave. It's still an amazing cave, and big, with some interesting air vents around the entry from many thousands of years ago when Waikatere was still an extremely large mountain.
Geologically, the Waitak's are extremely interesting. Our fill of caving, we work our way back along the wetlands track to Big Yellow with perfect timing, as the other group had just arrived. Another stunning recently re-opened tramping track completed!
Saturday early morning drizzle cleared to a fine, mild day to begin a great weekend away. Arriving at the gated entrance to Tangihua Lodge, we met Eileen. The farm track to the Lodge was somewhat wet and boggy and was a test to Chris’s skills to negotiate the bus up the steep slippery slope. After several attempts it was conquered.
The Home Party enjoyed the luxury of Tangihua Lions Lodge and in the afternoon completed the climb up to Horokaka Receiver station before returning for a Pot Luck dinner with entertainment provided by Peter.
Next day the tracks around the Lodge were explored, including the Kauri Grove Walk.The Out Party experienced the rugged Te Haua Uru Track linking up with the Northern Tangihua track to arrive at the classic Tangihua Hut. A side trip over an old route towards Mt Tanigihua provided more spectacular views with steep drop-offs on either side.
Challenging bluffs and dwindling daylight prevented further progress on reaching Mt Tangihua. Next day we returned over the Northern Tangihua track to the Tangihua Main ridge track, then across to the Horokaka Receiver station.
This section of the track had several steep banks to negotiate and a scrabble up a slipping cliff before reaching the Horokaka Receiver station. A fast trip down the Horokaka Track to Tangihua Lions Lodge had us arriving at our scheduled ETA of 1pm, follow the Te Haua Uru Track to the junction of the Tangihua Main ridge track and the Northern Tangihua track.
From the Northern Tangihua track we will continue to Tangihua Hut with option to do a side trip to Mt Tangihua. Saturday night Tangihua Hut: An 8 bunk, back country Hut. Sunday: Return over the Northern Tangihua track to the Tangihua Main ridge track, then across to the Horokaka Receiver station. (3 1/2 hrs). From there return via the Horokaka Track to Tangihua Lions Lodge (1 1/2hrs)
You will need to take plenty of water and good warm clothing, as the ridges can be very exposed.
So about now if you haven't done the big loop we do around Chatswood, Birkenhead and general environs you're thinking to yourself, what the heck, there's no decent bush or forest around there ..... and indeed this was what a few of our group were thinking when they started, even some members. Haha did we have a surprise for them!! We boost off into the bush straight down a steep, rough, bushy steep track and straight up the other side, equally steep. Which is much the theme of the day, most of the tracks around here are an excellent training ground for steep ups and downs, although none exceeding 100 metre climb
The third surprise for most as we drop down into the local gem, white sanded Fitzpatrick Bay looking across the water to the Te Atatu Peninsula. Most unaware that pretty bay was there. Heading over the hill and over a mangrove area, that's accessible in lower tides and thankful that the lumps of rock are there, so we don't need to sludge through. Arriving at a cute bridge made by the locals. Certainly does the job to connect us to the next steep grind up through established native forest. General theme of the day, up and then down again through many forest escarpment tracks, especially around near Kendall Bay. Excellent work out and the odd Pa site along the way, and awesome views on many of the points, including our lunch spot! Cheers, Imogen