North Shore Tramping Club
Sitting here writing this post-walk my legs are aching, but in that “satisfyingly tired” way.
This was my first tramp with the group and after a week of rain I expected another wet day. However, Bernhard managed to turn on the sun and navigate a 19km walk through Riverhead Forest for us in great weather.
It was certainly a muddy one with my personal highlight being a half face-plant. Good news, mud is soft! There were plenty of ups and downs - literally - but a really good work out. Great to meet a lovely bunch of people who all made me feel very welcome so a big thank you to you all and especially to Bernhard for organising and navigating the tramp. Much appreciated!
So it's mid winter now, the forecast was pretty rotten for today's tramp, but thankfully the weather decided otherwise, and it was fine this morning. So a bumper crop of club members and good bunch of newbies rolled up ready to tramp and off we set out to Karekare in Big Yellow.
Upon alighting from our bus up high at 270 metres on Log Race Road, we're blasted with reasonably strong wind gusts whilst enjoying the amazing views straight away. Breaking into our different group speeds we head via the boot station and off down hill, with views across Karekare and the Mercer Bay Loop below us and the Tasman Sea to our right. And the vistas become even more beautiful, especially as we're standing looking down to the dramatic dark sands below.
Ahu Ahu Track still under going re-surfacing, so we happily head down the very scenic Comans Track that was re-surfaced a year ago. The track is holding up reasonably well so far. Being another cliff top track, with many lookout spots along the way, there are plentiful options for amazing photos.
Dropping down into the valley, we head up to Karekare Falls, that even some long standing members of the club had never visited before! First the little "Spa pool" as we call it, then the big falls, certainly didn't disappoint, with plenty of water flowing over the top into the large pool at the base, making it a perfect spot for early lunch. The normally omni-present Eels, are elusive today. As we leave the falls, discussing and hoping that maybe one day Taraire Track will be re-opened so we can walk up to the top of the waterfall again and make a nice loop.
After lunch we walk along one of the dune tracks out to Karekare Beach to follow the stream to the northern end of the beach. Stopping to admire some gorgeous, rather confident little Pipits.
Weaving our way up the dune track the other side of The Watchman (massive nog of rock) the weather still holding out, but the skies looking as dark as the sand! The odd tiny droplet of rain, preparing for the 270 metre climb back up to the bus, many relegating jerseys into packs before boots being scrubbed and sprayed for the third time to help eliminate the spread of Kauri Dieback.
The one bonus of going back up a track you've done, especially such a scenic track is you see things from a different angle and take different photos, either with your camera or to keep for ever in your memory.
Two thirds the way up we stop at the big lookouts and the view of the sheer cliff face, that boasts the tallest sea cliffs in Auckland at 270 metres. A few more photos at the last big lookout above, and we enjoy the last of the progressive track back up to Big Yellow.
All groups back on the bus, and no rain to speak of, and we're on our way, very thankful that the forecasted weather held off.
Another amazing day out with the club, and awesome to be able to share a few areas of track that others hadn't done before.
So what made this tramp different, we blasted our way through 8 Reserves in one day, and staying mostly in the bush and forested areas, quite a number of tracks the club hasn't done probably for ever.
Meeting out front of Chelsea Primary School, Big Yellow resting up in it's garage, a good number of us and some fit newbies headed straight across the road to the first tracks skirting alongside the high barbed wire Military fence. Surprisingly this fairly steep downwards track was still pretty dry bar a couple of vaguely slick small areas. But we all know, what goes down, does invariably go up!!! A fairly short, but definitely sharp uphill and then we head into more bush tracks heading towards Fitzpatrick & Soldiers Bay, that are lined with a mixture of exotic (non-Native trees) & native Tanekaha, Kanuka and many more towering above us. These tracks give a really great, being in the bush feel, then all of a sudden, you start dropping down, and through the almost Japanese oversized Bonsai looking Pine trees, the sea appears again and the very peaceful and pretty Fitzpatrick Bay.
We quickly blast through a wide gravel path and land on Soldiers Bay. I tried to find about some history of the bay, but one would assume that it maybe something to do with the base that occupies the cliffs above. Thankfully it was low tide, so we're able to work our way across the very carefully placed large stones through the mangrove swamp! Many, many thanks to whomever put those there, or it would have been mud central!
Heading up out of Soldiers Bay another really massive group of 42! Before long, we pop out onto Rangatira Road, connecting us to our next park. The area of tracks we'd just done were awesome, for the fairly natural tracks and the tree canopy above us, and the good sharps and downs, great training. Similar to the climbs we used to have at the old Okura entrance.
We scoot through the Birkenhead War Memorial tracks, checking out the tree planting we did the previous week. Again, these are fairly natural tracks and really quite enjoyable with a cute bridge. With a boot station at either end. A little sad to see that the boot stations aren't well maintained, with empty bottles (two weeks running).
Next reserve was the very beautiful Kauri Glen, with a thorough scrub and spray of footwear on entry. If you've not been through here before, it's definitely worth a visit. It's like a little forgotten world right in the middle of suburbia as you drop into the Kauri lined gully. So impressive! Massive number of ricker (younger Kauri) & many whopping great big multi hundreds of year-old Kauri. You immediately have that feeling of walking through a gorgeous Kauri forest. On one of the tracks that's half closed, on the open half there is a neat tree canopy lookout. Pretty wicked to see so many Kauri.
More reserves to conquer, we cross to Le Roys Bush. Although there is track maintenance happening currently, we still have some brand new board-walked tracks to enjoy. Initially we thought we might hang our feet over the side of the boardwalk for lunch, but then had a better idea a spot at the end of Tizard Road, out of the brisk wind, and room with a great view up the harbour! Pretty interesting, as some Birkenhead'ers were saying that the site has been bare for a number of years, with a couple of quite tall lookouts on the site. Haha, na, we were busy noshing to climb up to check out the vista.
Dropping back down onto the path heading to Chelsea Sugar Works. Yeah, we know what you're thinking......... the trampers stopped for a coffee and nibbles at the café ..... I think we must have all needed our temperatures taken........... we walked straight past! Can you believe it! Haha. Ready for the boost up the hill into the bush tracks again! Again here, we did a couple of tracks we don't usually do, one to a historic Maori fishing point. Quite interesting seeing the old Pa sites still quite evident. The tide right out now, we head down a different track, and actually walk along Kendall Bay! Absolutely gorgeous!
No rest for the wicked, we head up the very steep steps up to the point, and a few more ups and downs on the awesome tracks there, oh and one and the only really slick muddy downhill bit all day! Thank goodness for the odd tree to grab onto on carved muddy steps.
So what made this day different from what we normally do in this area, that was so enjoyable, mixing up the tracks and with our variety of organisers creating a different tramp! Who doesn't love different and new to a lot of us tracks! A solid 17kms of undulating tracks, yay!!!
Yay!!! Another absolutely awesome tramping adventured with the club, fantastic group and great newbies, who commented how friendly and helpful everyone is. Aaaww.
Only five clubbies rolled up to participate in the latest community tree planting. Selecting our preferred spades from the selection of brand new decent planting spades, we headed down to the bank planting site, which is nestled between regenerating bush and a big stand of old Gum trees.
All the trees were laid out ready in place where they were to be planted. Quite a mixture of Flax, Coprosma, Titoki, Kanuka and Manuka and a few Puriri. Surprisingly again, given it's the middle of winter, the ground was fairly dry, so no muddy, mucky feet and gear. Super rewarding planting in so many trees, in a short space of time, under 2 hours, and we were done and off for walkies.
We headed up towards the swimming pool complex to start the bush tracks at the top, and beetled our way through these nice, fairly quiet tracks, chatting away happily as we walked. Once you get near the MTB/BMX tracks there's a boot station, quick scrub and we head into slightly more forest type environment, Tanekaha, Kauri, big Rewarewa and more. Also, at the track end, another boot station, do our thing and head on a very brief road interlude to hook into Ridgewood Reserve. More very freshly made boardwalks and steps greet us, as we're happily gazing up at the massive, towering tree canopy of Puriri, Totara above us. They are impressively large. This gully is just magic, Tui zooming around everywhere, singing their hearts out and many Wood Pigeons. All enjoying the ample fodder here.
Popping out of the reserve a family out walking, one of their little girls comes running up excitedly to see where we'd been walking. Neat to see young ones, so keen on being out tramping.
A quick stop across the road at one of the historic Cemeteries, to enjoy the harbour views whilst we tuck into some lunch. This cemetery was fascinating and houses the well known Verran family, of which one of the busy local roads is named after, amongst others.
As we started this theme, we stopped at the next cemetery along. Some history and stories in both of these is amazing. So many well-known families dating back to 1896. A long time ago in NZ history, and when this general area would have been covered in beautiful large Kauri before they were logged for housing.
Before heading back to the cars, we wander back into another forest track, to see how some large Kauri are doing. Reaching the gate, we respectfully look through the fencing, if not a little sad, as there is more resin oozing out of some large Kauri the council is trying to protect here with the track closure past the fences. Here we had an impromptu discussion about Kauri dieback and the theories and what's happening currently to try and halt it spreading. All the more valuable when you can see trees looking reasonably badly affected.
Another amazing day out with the club, with the very satisfying feeling of having given back to the community and environment, and having chatted lots of the other tree planters.
Big Yellow departs Takapuna, loaded with a bundle of keen planters, upon arriving at Silverdale the bus suddenly becomes fairly full! Bumper crop of planters loaded on there.
As we arrive through the main entry of Shakespear Regional Park, we follow the "planters" signs to the southern end of the park at Te Haruhi Bay. Alighting our club tramping bus, we're greeted by more keen NSTC tree planters! Yay, what an awesome group! Walking up the hill to the planting site, another group of NSTC planters. We're going to get a serious number of trees planted today!
After the usual boot soaking sterigene pad, we head in for our tree planting brief and team up with spades and fertiliser pellets. This year, the trees had already been laid in suitable spots, so they don't end up over planted to ensure best future success of each tree. That was really good to see.
Remember I was saying, we're going to get serious number of trees planted today, we sure did that and in a steep gully! Flax, Puriri, Caposma, Kahikatea, Kanuka and Manuka. Due to the overall large numbers of people there enjoying the incredible sea vistas, stunning weather and relishing in that whole warm, fuzzy feeling of having planted substantially more trees that was expected for that day, in fact half of the trees that had been allocated for the following weekend also! Wow! Not to mention a lot of laughs with our awesome crew and socialising with lots of other planters.
It was a definite bonus, that there wasn't copious amounts of mud to slide around in either as we did in atrocious weather the previous year. It was actually fairly dry. Planting done, we head back up to the tents going through the sterigene station again and then hand sanitising station before enjoying a snarler or two and hot drinks. Not to mention that they brought around biscuits and fruit whilst we were planting. Very well organised as usual. Nourished and watered, we head off for a shortish tramp, the scenic way back to the bus reverse along the Tiritiri Track, down and up the hills, beautiful views in all directions, glimpsing over Pink Bay, discussions around the colouration of the bay before heading up the lookout highpoint 360 degree panoramic scenery.
For those that had read the pre-amble for this trip, knew we were going to try hunt out the week before trans-located Hihi (Stitchbird) pairs. Heading down the Heritage Trail as we move our way through Waterfall Gully, the distinctive Stitchbird song is audible! Quietly and excitedly progressing along the track, at the first feeding station, a resplendent male Hihi was making his presence known. We didn't spot any of the less distinctively coloured females.
On our way through Waterfall Gully, we make the most of the opportunity to photographically capture the lovely waterfall, before making our way along a new track. During Summer this track is alive with many native birds and during Springtime, many cute birdy babies.
Dropping back down to the beach, our brief 2 or so hour tramp is almost over, bar walking along the beach spotting Variable Oyster Catchers and Dotterall's. Absolutely amazing day out with fantastic team of trampers, all knowing we've done something extremely important for the environment and for the native bird life and creatures that all rely on these trees for homes and for sustenance during the much shortened planting season this year. Even more exciting to know that many of our group had never done any community tree planting, who are now hooked!
Big Yellow, our club bus, first outing since March! Keen trampers rolled up for the 20 odd k trot.
On the bus, we ascertained that most hadn't been around this area, or if they had, it wasn't for a long time. We watched two large Clydesdale's happily noshing away close to the bus, as we hit the tracks on a calm morning. First to the track where the Dotterall's normally are, but they seemed to be hiding. Moving along over the paddock tracks, the cool bits of volcanic scoria pepping out of the ground here and there. We stopped briefly at the bird hide to see which winged ones we could spot. Plenty of Oyster Catchers, Herons and Kingfishers foraging.
Before we know it, we're cruising along Kiwi Esplanade at a fairly hot pace, checking out copious amounts of Kingfishers, Herons and other sea birds feeding in the low tide mud flats. A brief connecting walk through the Mangere Bridge township and the vibrant Sunday markets. Believe it or not, we didn't stop and purchase lovely cakery at a very well known, yummy bakery along the way. Shock, horror. Lol! Are these really trampers?! But more comments about Ice cream. Haha! Reaching Mangere Mountain, it's only a 107 metre climb to the summit, but steep enough that a number of the group de-layer in readiness. Lovely views all directions, east towards the most narrow point of the Auckland Isthmus, north, west towards the moody Waitak's and our next port of call Puketutu Island.
Dropping slightly off the summit track to find a spot out of the cool breeze for cozy lunch sitting on Kikuyu grass, before heading down the slope to the quick half loop around the sea level crater in Ambury Farm again.
Breezing along with a couple of photographic stops to admire the exceptionally prolific bird life in the 1.5 artificial Watercare Coastal Walkway lake that the birds always seem to love. Swans, many species of Ducks, Geese, Dabchicks, Herons, Kingfishers plus many more. Arriving at Puketutu Island, we head around the right side of the island, as there isn't a loop right around yet. Backtracking we make a beeline back to the bus, and the sun popping out from the behind the clouds and the tide now at about full low, the Kingfishers with their amazing luminescent turquoise plumage glowing in the sunshine. I spotted over 30 Kingfishers, and lost count of the number of Heron's and Pied Stilts. It was always a bird spotting tramp, and those of us interested in birds certainly weren't disappointed.
Two highlights of the day, the incredible amount of sea bird life and seeing a small pod of Dolphins just as were heading up the Harbour Bridge in the morning!
Another awesome day out with the club and another 20kms smashed out and back nice and early, being only half an hour from Takapuna.
The night before the rainy forecast for our first re-start tramp after the Covid lockdown, I was a little curious despite the number of pre-registrations (for contact tracing) if everyone would rock up! But rock-up they did! An extremely calm, clear start to the day at Little Shoal Bay. Most of the group not having done this tramp before. Even those that had, we mixed things up and ran it reverse of what we often do. Partly so we'd see different views than we often do, partly because the number of track closures and partly because after a couple of months for most of us not being able to hit the tracks the way we normally would and having lost a bit of tramping fitness.
We headed uphill to the tracks across Le Roys Bush and as we popped out of the bush, we spotted a Swan Plant with impressive large Monarch Butterfly caterpillars! We headed towards Kauri Glen and the beautiful mainly ricker Kauri, but some really large Kauri tree'ed tracks that were open there, and the lovely new tree canopy lookout. Some tracks are currently closed, but you can go there and back to the new canopy lookout at the time of writing this.
From the rain overnight, everything is dewy and gorgeous. Little droplets of water dripping off the tips of everything, like little diamonds, especially off the tips of the Rimu branches as the morning sun gently made its way through the massive canopy above us.
We pop out the other side, to beeline for the Chelsea and Kauri Point tracks. This is where it started to get interesting, as there were a few extra track closures on top of what we were aware of. This required more thinking about where all the tracks pop out on road ends and cul-de-sacs, so we could connect back into the bush as quickly as possible. Making our way through the bush, the sun glistening on the damp tree bark and droplets on the lush looking ground cover mosses.
Across the road and into the tracks above Kendall Bay. We'd organised to cut across the top of the bay, and then drop down into the bay to be kind to our muscles and to make a large loop tramp. Emerging into the open area and the view over the harbour and Kendall Bay never disappoints. Today was no different, gorgeous sea vistas and clouds lit with a slight mauve haze. Extremely pretty.
And down those infamous steep steps in Kendall Bay. At the bottom of that flight of steps, you have the option to go straight out to Kendall Bay or up another flight of even steeper steps up to Kauri Point. We chose the latter. Feeling very virtuous at top, and more lovely views of town and that big spark plug thingy, The Skytower.
Pit stop at Kendall Bay to scoff down lunch with the tide ebbing in at almost full tide at our toes. Absolutely perfectly, tranquil place for lunch.
Chelsea tracks calling, we took off up the hill, with a few stunning lookouts towards town. Even this far away you can hear the gentle hum of cars on the Auckland Harbour Bridge. That didn't bother us in the slightest, we were in the zone! Immersing in our forest bathing. (Check out what forest bathing is, and it's proven calming effects).
Caffeine addicts had us making a brief stop at the Chelsea Cafe, only to find the barista was at lunch. Would the lack of caffeine slow down our long-legged ones?! No, seemingly not, we taunted them with the lure of the Himemoa Street cafés!
Back through yet another Kauri Dieback boot station into Le Roys Bush! We lost count of how many we went through, but we were good and did the right thing at each station. And yay!!! A track that was closed the previous week, had been partially re-opened, so we walked through this freshly boardwalked track, before reaching the junction, where they're still working, forcing us to head up onto the road for the last bit of the tramp, all downhill back to the cars. We didn't care it was a road bash for the last bit. We had such an awesome tramping adventure again today, as always.
5 hours 40 minutes of tramping, not counting lunch, so a solid effort for our first day back with the club!!!! Well done and we're looking forward to seeing more of you out on the tracks now things are slowly nearing some normality.
As I'm sure you'll remember, we headed through this area in early January. But as the Pukekohe Tramping Club were kind enough to invite us along to their Official 5 Summits Track Opening, late last year, we were reciprocating inviting them along to reckie our Albany tracks.
Not such a large group this month, being absolutely perfect for the altered version of this tramp, so we motored from our start point through along the paths and tracks taking in some of the history of the area and the odd nosh of fruit in the public reserves. The very old fruit trees surviving from days when there were a number of orchards in Albany. Yummo!
When we started the tramp it was slightly overcast and a bit cooler thankfully, so by the time we hit the Massey tracks, timing was absolutely perfect, extremely tall canopy above us to protect us from powerful heat being emitted by the sun, not to mention the punishing rays on skin. The shade and drop in temperature in this forest escarpment is bliss, trickling water in the stream below to help the whole forest bathing serenity.
A few quick photo stops along the way to admire some of the absolutely massive, exceptionally old Kahikatea, with impressively large epiphytes such as Widow Maker adorning their branches. Some of the very large Kahikatea through this area are approximately 800 yeas old. And we're so pleased that these and many other spectacularly large Totara, Rimu etc escaped the saw back in the 1800's from extensive logging in the area.
After lunch we completed the top loop in Tornado Alley tracks and dropped down to the stream track, to head for the track we've set, but not really cut yet. It's a bit of rough fun at the moment working our way through the undergrowth of mainly Punga and one roped area. It may have been mentioned when we popped out on the reserve side of Super Cheap Auto, that "it resembles a cave in there at the moment. 'By next time the club is through, that last bit should be fully tracked.
Completing the bottom part of the Tornado loop we motored back along the stream and spotted one of the many, cool individually painted Rocks sitting on a dead tree across the stream! Awesome!
Popping back out ready to do the other side of the stream for Massey tracks, motors running quickly along here, Kell Park and back along the last stream on the opposite side and we're back at the cars, with a smidge under 6 hours tramping time, not including lunch.
With 3 forested areas closed around Albany, if they re-open, we may end up with a potentially 9 hour day again. Good training ground, as that's where the bigger, steeper hills are.
As we dropped off the first party at Bethell's Beach by the little one way bridge, the forecast was very thankfully for cloud cover this morning! They'll need that as it's very exposed along the cliff tops of the Te Henga Walkway, but very worth it for the very dramatic vistas along the cliffs and out across the Tasman Sea.
Big Yellow set on it's way to destination number two at Goldies Bush, where the second group disembarked and headed through the first Kauri Dieback spraying and scrubbing station. Job done, we head along the track, noticing how extremely dry the bush is, even with the towering canopy above us everything is really looking almost crispy. Also noticing that many Kauri of varying sizes from Ricker (smaller) to large through here seem to be displaying ooze, one of the signs of possible Kauri Dieback.
Moving through here the very mixed group chatting a lot, time passes very quickly and we arrive at the suspension bridge, with it's rather amusing sign about permitted numbers crossing. More track to cover, we head towards Constable Road and the other end of the track and up the steps and dipping at the boot station taking in all the lovely old trees through here.
Returning back down to the suspension bridge and where we drop down the path into the Mokoroa Stream Track. If you've never done this one, it's a pearla. And probably the easiest stream bash you'll ever do, with so many pools to take a dip or swim in and the track is an easy one.
Working our way up the stream, we find a ideal shaded spot with a pool where most park and dig into lunch. Whilst a few of us take a cooling swim before nosh time! Absolutely gorgeous and what summer tramping is perfect for.
Moving along the stream track, we eventually arrive at the head of the track and the two waterfalls, one left and one right, that surprisingly still have water running over the edge for everyone's photographic enjoyment. Plus heading up to the lookout with views over the top of the waterfalls and the gradual climb back up to the boot station and Big Yellow.
We didn't have to wait very long and half of the larger party arrive who'd missed the stream track, and the second half who'd elected to enjoy the stream, all looked happy and relaxed upon returning.
Another absolutely brilliant day out with the club, and it's amazing to think that when the stream flash floods after heavy rain, the stream wouldn't be an option, but it certainly was for us today!!! Yay!!!!
The question used to be how many swims could you manage during a day trip?! With the ferry being on summer hours, the ferry left the CBD at 8.45am, and departed Rotoroa at 5.45pm, we had over 7 hours on the island!
When we left town, it was very overcast, looking somewhat ominous, but the further the ferry ventured out in the harbour, blue sky emerged much to our delight, as for many it was the first time to the island.
Arriving on Rotoroa, we had the usual bio-security briefing from the island Park Ranger and a general heads up about the gravel being like mables on some of the dry, steep tracks and then we were into Weka'sville. Why Weka'sville? They are literally everywhere! Turn around and there's bound to be a Weka. If you go 10 minutes without seeing a Weka, that's probably a rarity! They are so cute, quite bold and curious. Have you ever heard what little Tea Leaves Weka's are? Ask around the club, many have stories about a Weka trying to run off with something from a pack, or even boots and poles!
Anyway, first parched lookout complete, and we were off down our next track to the heavenly westerly facing Mai Mai Bay, with large Pohutukawa's gracefully leaning on the sand. Glistening golden sand and crystal water and water absolutely flat calm greet us in this protected bay. The water was amazing! So very quickly a fair number of the group were in for the first good swim.
Before long we're off back up the hill and onto a loop track before dropping down to the equally stunning, sheltered north facing, Cable Bay. Another blissful swim before lunch, plus a few more venturing into the tranquil waters.
After nosh time, off around another loop at Pakatoa Point spotting one of the pairs of Pakete (Brown Teal) and then up to one of the high trig points on the island, North Tower at only 76 metres above sea level, but still one very steep track up! With breath taking 360 degree views.
Saving our next swims til later in the afternoon, we made tracks to South Tower and the striking Chris Booth artwork landmark that adorns the 65 metre summit.
All starting to warm up, we dropped back down to sea level again, for cooling swim three! At the easterly facing Men's Bay this time, heaps of jokes about the bay name, and if the femme's in the group were allowed?! Lol! Nice swell rolling in here, so body surfing this time!
A short walk along the island's well graveled tracks, completing our full circuit of all of the island tracks, including all three lakes (both pairs of Pakete) and our last but not least, fourth swim at Ladies Bay, at yet another absolutely beautiful bay, with the dramatic Coromandel Ranges in the background, just about everyone partake's of the final dip! Not to mention one cheeky Weka trying to whip off with the author's cap!
Oh, and why Ladies Bay?! Back in history when the island was still a rehab centre, with much decorum back in the day, Ladies swam at one bay, Men at the other. Can you imagine that now!?!
Totally and utterly blissed out, big smiles all round, from another amazing adventure with an awesome group out with North Shore Tramping Club, we stopped by the fascinating island Museum before heading to the ferry. All still having completing over 22k footsteps, not shabby, considering how much extra exercise we had with the swims too!
What a day! Most of us would have been very happy to stay!