North Shore Tramping Club
Late December last year, three girls, two guys and Mandy went for a hike.
They learnt a lot over those 4 days. These are some of those learnings.
Learning: Dad jokes on Day 1 were bad.
Learning: Be careful about how much faith you put in GPS readings. Early on Day 2, having climbed for over two hours through steep but picturesque and cool beech forest, liberally dotted with magnificent rimu, rata and kahikatea, our long-suffering leader reached for his phone and announced we had climbed a whole 200 metres. On that basis we were on track to reach Old Man Hut at about 7pm - on Day 3!
We had about 1,000 metres to climb over about 10km, so the observation was about as demoralising as watching a weka run off with your lunch. We somehow managed to climb another 300 metres in the next hour so all mutinous thoughts were forgotten.
Learning. NSTC Leaders are geniuses. For example, as we tramped away on Day 3 John promised us a break in 15 minutes. Somehow, he knew that we would stop less that 20 metres from the edge of the bush-line, in a clearing simply perfect for a lunch stop and metres from the start of the climb to Little Rintoul.
Learning: Just because you are at the front and manage to walk tall under an overhanging tree, do not forget to call out “HEADS” as loudly as you can. Especially if the guy at the back is 6’10”. Sorry John.
Learning: Basing yourself at a hut for two nights and having a walk with day packs on Day 3 is pure genius. Having woken to a dawn chorus at Old Man Hut that we will reminisce about forever, the trip up Little Rintoul with day packs, in sunshine, with a cooling westerly was a breeze compared to the efforts of the day before.
John had some trouble prising us off the peaks that day as we took in the views across the Wairau Valley to the mighty Kaikoura Range, still white-capped from the snowfall the days before we arrived. It felt like we were on top of the world with the steepness of the ridge around us and being above the clouds blanketing the valleys to the west.
Learning: If you are at the front and come across a tree blocking that path at about waist height don’t forget to yell out “Roz…. HEADS”.
Learning: Do not pose for photographs next to someone 40 years younger than you. Even on Day 4. Sorry John, photoshop just is not that good. And European woman that look under the age of 30 will henceforth be banned from multi-day tramps. Perhaps all tramps? John should decide.
Learning: If you arrive at Old Man campsite and see someone that looks remarkably like Chris, standing next to someone that looks remarkably like Linda, then it probably is the Chris and Linda along with the rest of the Long Party (there must be an oxymoron in that label). Was great to see you guys. Inspiring.
Learning: By day 4 no one cares where they are or who is watching when getting changed. No more need be said about that.
Learning: John, please do not stand up and tuck in your shirt at the dinner table if you:
There was shrieking and crying from the 4 vestal virgins on the other side of the table at the time.
Learning: Old Man Hut is sexist. I saw old woman there. Perhaps “Fit Old People Hut” is more PC. John and I posed for photos in front of the sign anyway.
Learning: The dad jokes on day 4 are bad. For example. What do you call a deer with no eyes standing still? Unfortunately, if you want the punch line you will just have to join us the next multi-day tramp or by this time next year you will still have no idea (sic).
The final day promised to be relatively easy. Morning mist and cloud cleared away slowly, keeping temperatures ideal for hiking. However, we were to be treated to enough river crossings to lose count. The upside was the water had warmed considerably as it was now several days since the snowfall.
The Richmond Range was a great choice for a multi-day tramp. It offers jaw-dropping panoramas, plenty of birdlife including the inimitable one-bird orchestra that is the bellbird, beautiful beech forests and enough challenging climbs to make that evening meal and coffee the tastiest, most satisfying you have enjoyed in a long time. A great setting for some shared challenges and an opportunity to make new friends.
We all know shared challenges make close friendships even closer, strangers become mates. Multi-day hiking is one sure way of setting yourself to encounter a few unnerving moments, and of course, make a few new friends.
Final Learning: More of a question really. Does anyone know who or what “Mandy” is?
***Footnote: OK. It wasn’t John. It was me – power of the pen and all that. And there were no vestal virgins. I could tell because the 4 females on the other side of the table fell about laughing until they cried. Literally. Point “c” was not true either. Just added for effect – power of the pen again. And I know no-one reads footnotes, so we are all safe. Except John. Ha!
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 bit 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 though 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 of the 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 cafe ..... 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, Caposma, 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 Cemetaries, to enjoy the harbour views whilst we tuck into some lunch. This cemetary was really interesting and houses the well know 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 cemetary along. Some of the 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 of the 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 of the 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 effected.
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!
What a day again, tramping adventure around Piha!
Our group headed along the beach and up the Tasman Lookout Track. A bit of a gem of a track, as you climb up the stairs up the cliff, more spumy, hazy views revealed across the beach and Lion Rock and Taitomo Island and masses of surfers in catching some nice clean sets.
We were like a bunch of tourists reaching the lookout, clicking off so many photos, as all bar two of us in the group, hadn't been up this track before and didn't know it was there.
Back down the steps we headed back north along the beach, enjoying watching the aerial antics of the surfers as we walked.
We hit Marawhara Track that has very recently re-opened and had the Kauri Die Back track resurfacing treatment. A new yellow boot station greeted us, and mass boot scrubbing before entering the track, we headed into the glade area of beautiful old Nikau's as we worked our way up the new gravel and steps and re-routed track. In some ways nicer, as you are nearer the sea, so you can hear the constant roar of the waves crashing down and the odd snippet view, than where the track used to be more over the other side of the hill.
Before we know it, we'd climbed all the stairs and reached the grassy area, to find a suitable, out of the breeze spot for noshing time. As those that have tramped with us before will know, noshing spot must have a gorgeous view to feed our eyes as much as our souls.
Back down White Track and the newbies now understanding why we go down this track and not up usually! It's one steep sucker of a hill! Ok in cooler months, more of the baking, sweaty variety in summer months!
For variety we elected to take in the very tree tunnel like Laird Thompson Track to head the other half of the cliffs. Mandatory stop at the lookout for amazing views over Whites Beach below us and north to Muriwai, looking very ethereally soft in haze. Absolutely beautiful!
Last track in this area, that hasn't had any KDB (Kauri Dieback) treatment, heavily Pohutukawa clad Rose Track back down to the beach. It's still a muddy track! Bumping into the Park Ranger we stopped for a quick chat to find out if Rose Track is about to get some TLC. He didn't think so.
Thoroughly enjoying striding back along the main beach, negotiating the soft patches of sand, we discovered that most hadn't been up Lion Rock before, so that was a must do! For the views and completing the experiences of the day. Pretty cruisy about 18k steps for our group today, with some good steep hills.
Not too long after we arrived back at Big Yellow, the other party arrive, they missed doing Tasman Lookout, but headed up the valley to Kitekite Falls, that obviously didn't disappoint.
Really cool being able to share these amazing spots around Auckland and getting some good tramping, walking and hiking in!
After a one hour ride from Takapuna, we arrived at Piha with the brakes running hot on Big Yellow!
Toileting over, we set off for the short walk to Tasman Lookout, from where we had a great view north over Piha Beach, Lion Rock, and the many surfers enjoying the incoming waves.
From there we descended back to sea-level and headed north to pick up the White Track, aiming to reach the highest point of our tramp before stopping for lunch at about 12.30.
Setting off after lunch, we reached the Thomson Track which would eventually take us back to Kohunui Bay, north of Piha.
From there we made our way along the soft black sand of North Piha Beach, towards Lion Rock, which was to be our last uphill scramble of the day.
It's not possible to access the summit because of unstable ground and falling rocks, but it was still worth climbing as far we could to take in the magnificent view before finally heading home.
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.
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 Clydesdales 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 seabirds 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 readiment. Lovely views all directions, east towards the most narrow point of the Auckland Istmus, 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 different species of Ducks, Geese, Dabchicks, Herons, Kingfishers plus many more. Arriving on 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 luminiscent 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 it's 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 culdesacs, 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 later. Feeling very virtuous at top, and more lovely views of town and that big spark plug thingy, The Skytower.
Pitstop 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 cafes!
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 roadbash 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.