An advertisement at the back of ‘Wilderness ‘ magazine quotes the Lonely Planet guide’s claim that the Cape Brett walk is “One of the Epic 50 Hikes of the World.” It is one of the club’s favourites, and we have been tramping there several times in recent years.
We left from Como Street on Friday evening. As we drove north through the night, news was coming through of mass murder at a Christchurch mosque. We arrived at Rawhiti in the eastern Bay of Islands around midnight. Next morning we found that we were on the edge of the marae, next to the sea. Our tramp began with a walk of about one kilometer along a road to Oke Bay, then there was a long, steady walk uphill to Pukehuia (345m). It was very hot and humid but, despite raging thirst, we had to be economical with our water as there had recently been a drop of 1080 poison and it was feared that local water might be contaminated.
We followed the Cape Brett Track along the ridge line, with extensive views of the eponymous bay and islands. We stopped for lunch at a hut above Te Wai Bay where two of our number, suffering from the high humidity, elected to stay. The rest of us dropped to a track junction; left for Deep Water Cove, the route we would take the next day, right for the cape. Another steep climb followed. Then, coming down the track, was a young lady in a bikini and not much else – no pack, not even a waterbottle. A couple of her friends followed close behind. They had landed from a boat and gone for a stroll ashore.
The Cape Brett lighthouse marked the end of the walk -17 km from Oke Bay.
The lighthouse keeper’s house, no longer required for its original purpose since the lighthouse is automated, was our accommodation, shared with a young, international group.
After the long, hot walk I particularly enjoyed a refreshing swim off the rocks. In the evening I read the hut book where the lighthouse keepers noted that sharks were often seen in the channel between the cape and the nearby island.
Several of us rose early to observe a colourful sunrise over the sea. We then retraced our steps up the long hill, returned to the track junction and walked down to Deep Water Cove, where our water taxi was already waiting for us. This saved us several hours of walking over the same route as yesterday. We disembarked at Oke Bay and returned to ‘Big Yellow’, so that we were able to start the long drive home around noon.
This walk was not “an epic’ in the sense that most of us would understand the term, but it was a beautiful walk through native forest with superb coastal scenery, and the accommodation at the end was distinctly superior to the standard DOC hut.