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  • 6 Jun 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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

  • 3 Jun 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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.


  • 3 Jun 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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.

  • 30 May 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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.

    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!

    Cheers, Imogen

  • 15 May 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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.

  • 9 May 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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

  • 24 Apr 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There was only eleven of us signed up for this trip, which made for some comfortable travel and accommodation in Big Yellow. We decided that both the short party and long party would be combined into one party. Setting off from Takapuna, the weather looking over towards the Coromandel Ranges looked a bit showery. The forecast for the weekend was for showers and maybe one fine day out of the three.

    As it transpired, we were blessed with three days of good weather. As per the norm there was the mandatory coffee stop at Thames and a bus refuel as where we were heading, running out of fuel was not a good idea. From Thames we headed up the west coast of the peninsular before crossing up and over the big hill to Te Kouma and on to the small township of Coromandel, for a quick comfort stop. From there we passed the township of Colville and headed over to the east coast of the peninsular, for our first overnight camp at the extremely picturesque bay of Waikawau. We arrived in the practically empty campground at about 1.00pm in time for lunch and to set up camp.

    Once we had our lunch, we set off on the Matamataharakeke track which starts at the back of the Waikawau campground. This was an 8-kilometer loop track, which began by crossing the Matamataharekekek stream several times before climbing up a ridge into open farmland to point 344. This gave us great views of Cuvier Island, the Mercury island’s and to the north, the 892-meter mount Moehau, as well as our campground below us.

    As the days were getting shorter, it was time for us to complete the three-hour loop by heading down the opposite ridge to our camp. This track was well marked and in places had an exposed clay surface which did prove to be a little slippery but gave us all a good stretch out. Appetites and dinner were upon us in no time, and out came the branded cooking systems, the not so branded cooking systems, and Craig's gadgets, add-ons and salesman talk.

    With dinner out of the way by 6.30 pm it was getting dark and much too early for bedtime stories. So, the team under a near full moon decided to take a short evening stroll along part of the expansive Waikawau beach. The moon had influenced Garry somewhat, that would cause him to scare the living daylights out of some of us for fun. We were unsure if it was for his own entertainment or for ours but finally, it was time for us to return to our bus and tents for a bit of reading before a night’s sleep. Having the luxury of sleeping on the bus I found it to be very unentertaining as there were no snorers to listen to when I lay awake, but there was comment I may have slept through the real entertaining solo act of the night.

    The following morning, we were ready and aboard the bus by 8.00am, heading towards the beginning of the 10-kilometre Coromandel walkway. But first we had to negotiate the road from Waikawau to Stony Bay. This was an epic twisting, narrow road, so much so that the trip organizer sitting in the back began to worry if we would even make it to Stony Bay! Once we had committed Big Yellow to this section of road, there was no turning back, as there were no areas to turn her around any time soon.

    We passed Port Charles and a little further a beautiful bay called Sandy Bay, with all the locals waving to us with big smiles. I am not sure if it was with amusement that we had managed to get the bus this far? or surely, they will not go any further? It is at this stage I must say our club is so lucky to have such a pool of very skilled drivers, both Arletta and Craig for this trip, we thank them dearly for their fine display of driving skills and patience.

    After about fifty minutes driving from Waikawau we arrived at Stony Bay. This is as far north on the eastern side of the Coromandel peninsular that you can drive, the road stops at Stony Bay which serves as a doc campsite. We were out of big yellow in no time at all, to commence the Coromandel walkway to Fletcher’s Bay for the night. The track starts with a gentle incline to about 100 meters height and is well graded, which made it easy going. After about 20 minutes we were at our first lookout at the southern end of Shag Bay, we were able to see back towards Stony Bay and the northern end of Shag Bay where our next look out point would be. It was an idyllic coastal setting, blue sky with puffy clouds, clifftops lined with Pohutukawa, Manuka and Pittosporums, the rocks below surrounded by clean clear blue water, it was a real delight.

    Onwards we went with another small unnoticed gain in height to the northern end of the Shag Bay lookout. From here we could see further north to where we would be heading Poley bay, and further still the iconic Coromandel walkway promotion shot of Sugar loaf rocks and the Pinnacles, and out to sea the Island of Great Barrier, where our last club trip had been a fortnight previous.

    Onwards we progressed to about the 6-kilometer mark where we would descend into Poley bay, some of the team would elect to have their lunch here while the rest elected to get the climb out of Poley bay done with before having lunch.

    From there it was out onto open rolling farmland with mouthwatering views of the peninsula’s rocky coastline and numerous lovely small beaches, and not extremely far out to sea Great Barrier, Little Barrier, and the rugged wind-swept little Channel Island. We only had a few more kilometres of farmland before we would reach Fletcher’s Bay camp, some 3.5 hours and 10 kilometres later. Fletcher’s bay is also the furthest north you can drive on the western side of the peninsular.

    We just about had the whole camp site to ourselves; it certainly was not too hard to find a place for your tent. Once settled in and after a light snack with cups of tea or coffee, we ventured down to the beach for a look, and for those brave ones amongst us, a swim. As it was getting late in the day and a bit windy, it did not seem very appealing but for the brave, once in the water it was just divine. With daylight hours on short supply again it was not long before we were thinking about dinner and a night’s sleep as the next morning we would be leaving early and retracing our path back to Stony Bay and a return to Takapuna “all in a day’s work” as the saying goes.

    Of course, we were fed, packed up and on our way by 8.00am. It took us 3 hours to return to Big Yellow and then we were on our way back to Takapuna. This time we chose to return to Coromandel township via Kennedy Bay and up over the hill to Coromandel for a lunch stop. It was at this stage I decided to try out a famous Coromandel, Mussel chowder pie.

    Yes! I can strongly recommend these tasty pies and say, it would be worth the drive to Coromandel just for a mussel chowder pie alone. It was not long after that, and we were back at Thames and waving the Coromandel peninsular goodbye. Heading toward the southern motorway, thinking of what traffic congestion we would encounter at the end of a long weekend, thankfully proved to be a non-event, and we were back at Takapuna before 5.00pm.

    Looking down from point 344 at Waikawau beach and campground. If you look hard, you will see big yellow in the campground, it had turned a little yellow looking from above.

    Evening walk under a near full moon, southern end of Waikawau beach.

    Our five-star accommodation on wheels, big yellow awaits us.

    The easygoing and well graded Coromandel Walkway track.

    The money shot! From the northern point of Shag Bay looking north, Sugar Loaf Rock and the Pinnacles, Great Barrier in the background.

    Last few kilometres of rolling farmland to Fletcher’s Bay. Channel Island and Little Barrier in the background.

    A small break after the climb up from Poley Bay on the return trip. Cuvier Island looking east in the distance.  Great Barrier in the background.

  • 16 Apr 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    8 keen members travelled down on the Friday night to the Aongatete Road end (located off SH2 near Katikati) ready for an early start on the Saturday morning. Early drizzle on the Saturday morning cleared as we set off for the first part of the trip to set up our camp sites at the river before the North–South Track ascends to the saddle.

    Our enthusiastic track clearers made excellent progress and with the new track clearing tools provided by the Kaimai Ridgeway Trust short work was made of some dense foliage overgrowing the track. ~1.5kms of track was cleared up to the top of the saddle, meeting the Wairere Falls track. This trip marks a 5 year milestone with track clearing now completed from the Aongatete side up the North South Track to the top of the saddle near the Southern end approached from Wairere Falls track.

    This epic result represents 838.5 hrs worked since the first Club Track Clearing Party in October 2016.

    Almost 90% of the track has been cleared, and only one section is left to clear from the Southern Side of the saddle. It is hoped the Kaimai Ridgeway Trust will be successful in gaining DOC approval to build a hut on the top of the saddle. Kevin. 

  • 2 Apr 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This tramp was scheduled for Easter 2020 but had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

    As on our last trip to the island three years ago, we chartered two boats from Hauraki Express, each with a capacity of twelve passengers. We left in calm, fine conditions and anticipated a fast passage but encountered a heavy swell from Cape Colville. Two eight-seater vans were ready for us at Tryphena and carried the out party to Okupu, on the west coast of the island.

    We had lunch on the grass overlooking the beach – an idyllic spot. A brisk breeze blew in from the sea, and the angle of the surrounding trees indicated that this was probably constant. We then walked up the road for a kilometre or two and turned left onto the Te Ahumata Track.

    There was a steady climb in warm, humid conditions and when we came to the turn-off for Te Ahumata peak (398m) only a few of the party chose to walk to the summit which seemed to tower above us. They reported that the climb was easier than it looked, with outstanding views. We reached the Whangaparapara Road, walked down to the sea and for a couple of hundred meters along the Old Mill Track to the Green campsite. This was a lovely spot, right next to the sea; when the tide came in, in the middle of the night, it sounded as if the waves were breaking only inches from our tents.

    Next morning, we set off northwards along the tramline track, which has been up-graded to Great Walk standard. Here I had a reminder that it is always wise to refer to the most recent maps available. We were looking out for the Pack Track on our left and were surprised to reach the Forest Road. There have been many developments on the island in recent years, some tracks have been upgraded and others – such as the Pack Track – have been abandoned. It did not make much difference, we followed the Forest Road to Maungapika (280m) – this time everyone made the ascent – and turned off to the left, following the Kiwiriki Track.

    We dropped down to Kiwiriki Bay and had our lunch at a picturesque spot where Pohutukawas leaned out over the sea. To reach the next bay we had to walk over two hills, each of about 200m. This was no great height, but the steady uphill climbs in warm, humid weather tested our fitness.

    Several boats were moored in Kaiaraara Bay and when we saw a small zodiac heading towards us, some of the more optimistic spirits speculated that they might have been bringing us a case of chilled beer – alas, a fantasy. It was late afternoon when we reached the Kaiaraara Hut – apparently a second bunkroom had been added to make a total of 24 bunks, but there was no capacity to enlarge the cooking and dining area which became very congested.

    Next morning – Easter Sunday – we crossed a high swing-bridge – right for the most direct route to Mt Hobson (Hirakimata), left for the coastal footpath to Port Fitzroy. Our hopes of enjoying coffee and croissants in a café there were dashed – everything was closed. One of the party decided to transfer to the home party; we were struggling to make contact with the other party when most of our cell phones were displaying ‘no service’ when, with excellent timing, the airport shuttle happened to pass by.

    We walked about two kilometres up the road and turned right onto the Coopers Castle route – one track which has not been upgraded, but still perfectly satisfactory. The initial climb was not too brutal. We followed a ridge line, ascending a series of small peaks then dropping down again before climbing up the next.

    At last, we reached Coopers Castle (465m) itself, with extensive views over Okiwi and Whangapoua Beach to the north. It was not a place for those prone to vertigo – we were on the edge of a vertical drop of a couple of hundred meters. We had lunch there and spoke to Imogen, whose group was enjoying their lunch on the summit of Mt Hobson, two kilometres away.

    Mt Hobson is only 150m higher than Coopers Castle but it was not to be so easy – we had a precipitous descent of perhaps 250 meters before we started climbing again. At least we dropped far enough to find a stream which was good news for those whose water bottles were nearly empty. We passed a kauri dam, and then started climbing. We soon reached the bottom of the notorious stairs, which seemed to go on forever. How many are there? Perhaps two or three thousand.

    There is a track junction, where the Kaiaraara Track meets Palmers Track coming from the left and South Fork Track on the right – from here it was only another five minutes to the summit. The summit did not disappoint – there was excellent visibility and a faint breeze which was refreshing but did not freeze us. One or two people even commented that it had been worth all the pain. 

    Our fourth and final day began with an easy walk downhill of about two hours to the Kaitoke Hot Springs. This is the perfect way to relax after the strenuous activity of the past three days, and we soaked there for more than an hour. Another 45 minutes’ walk through the wetlands brought us to the end of our tramp.

    We were fortunate that both our vehicle and our boat came earlier than scheduled – we left Tryphena at 2.30 pm rather than 4 pm, and had a very rough ride back to Auckland.

  • 28 Feb 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    So we're well into our New Year's resolutions for 2021.  With a good group of keen newbies and clubbies, Big Yellow arrives in Piha to maximise the few tracks that are currently open in the Waitakere Ranges despite the possibility of showers.

    Groups split, our group makes a beeline to enjoy the tranquillity of the 80 metre Kitekite Falls whilst it's still early and most importantly quiet before the herds of people arrive. Scrubbed and dipped as we enter the track, a quick stop and team photo op inside a massive old Kauri stump inside the entry.

    Cruising along the track, immersing in the serenity with water trickling gently down the stream beside and substantial rainforest canopy above.  Bliss!   Working our way up the valley, the first lookout to the falls with recent rainfall, it's looking good!   Standing by the waterfall pool, the 6 tiered fall as impressive as always.  Just as well we don't have to pay commission for all the photos and selfies!   Haha!

    Keen for some hill work, we set off up the track steps lined with groves of Kauri to the top of the waterfall.  Most our group hadn't been up before, so were quite excited when we reached the top and the infinity pool!  If you go to the side of the first pool, there is actually another pool on a lower tier that a few people were already enjoying.  Our young teen tramper decided that the top infinity pool needed to be swim tested.   Talk about a big beaming smile!   Think the pool passed! Crazy number of photos and noting that there had obviously been a log dam them in the past.   The mostly rotted wooden beams and cuts in the rock eluding to the history.

    Returning down on the other side of the stream, true right of the stream this time, just as enjoyable.

    Reaching Piha Beach we nestle ourselves in a clear viewpoint spot on top of the dunes for lunch.  Always a room with a view for feasting time.

    Making the most of the low tide, we stride along gunmetal sands below the Tasman Lookout Track lookout and between Taitomo Island, with incredible conglomerate rock geology the Blue Pools.  The tide was coming in, so not ideal to climb up Taitomo Island to view the waves crashing and rising around the island base so we strode up the valley to the The Blowhole.  What a great move that was!  Tide out enough to walk along the damp sand to explore the large Blowhole cave.  When the tide is in, the water rushes through and right through plumming through the Blowhole!  Quite spectacular.

    What an amazing day so far!  Not over yet, the council has finally made the southern end of the track, a proper cliff top track with a few steps up to the lookout. More photos, even on the overcast day it was, the vista across to Lion Rock and Piha Beach are awesome in a misty way. On our way back to the bus a quick stop for ice-creams, ice-blocks and coffees. Epic day!   Epic group!   Another adventure clocked up, so many more to complete & more mileage knocked off! Cheers Imogen

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