North Shore Tramping Club
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!
The team jumped on Big Yellow and off we set, with one stop at Ellerslie and one at Bombay to pick up clubbies.
Arriving at Karangahake a suitably big enough spot secured in a very busy carpark and we broke into a few distance groups. One doing the up and over Mt Karangahake and my group a new circuit with two swims and waterfalls. It doesn't matter what tramp you select around Karangahake, all are absolute winners!
With many of the group not having done any or very little around the area, they were in for a treat! Over, one and two suspension bridges right at the start and we're into the Windows Walk famed for it's windows cut out of the sheer rock face. The old handbuilt gold mining tunnels needed these windows for fresh air to decrease the chances of explosions. The view from each "window" up the Waitawheta River is so striking, big sheer faces of stone rising straight up about 100 metres and the reflections off the river! Plus we found more Glow Worms that we have the last few times.
Moving up the river, the constant babbling river beside us and the large tree native tree canopy above, so calming and relaxing that you drift into an almost rhythmic pace whilst chatting away.
Reaching a favourite swimming spot and meeting the other group, we stop for a quick chat and to admire the tunnel with water gushing through it. Ah tranquility! But surprisingly, we didn't swim here! We headed over the next few suspension bridges to the Dickey Flat Campground in mind as the ideal lunch spot. Must be a room with a view for lunch.
This is where the twist starts, on the odd occasion that we have walked through to Dickey Flat we have returned back, not today, we head up along the road, enjoying the rolling hills surrounding us and Mt Karangahake, and the top end of the stream that supplies our first goal, the beautiful cascading Owharoa Falls!
It's only 9 metres high, but really spectacular. So much so that you really want a GoPro to take into the water and film the waterfall up close! Nice swimming in the deep, warm river water too!
Very thankfully, the afternoon clouded over a bit keeping the heat down on this exposed part of the tramp by the Ohinemui River, as we head along the Karangahake Gorge Walkway, back towards the carpark. Goal two, waterfall two! This one is an old, disused quarry and the waterfall, not quite so spectacular today with the low rainfall lately, but still an impressive 20 metres straight above us in a lovely tropical atmosphere with the ferns and trees. In October when we were last there, there was much more of the liquid stuff flowing over the top of the waterfall.
When we reach the next bridge we break into two group, one to do the historic, handbuild over a 100 years ago, 1.1km Railway Tunnel, that used to be part of the main trunk line. And the other group walking back along the Ohinemuri River to make the most of river swimming before home time. Magic!
Awesome group, lots of fit newbies keen for next next adventure in the bush!
Another absolute pearla of a day yesterday! Making the most of the longer days of sunshine whilst it lasts for the next month before daylight savings switches!
Lots of trampers loaded up and off we head down to the Coromandel, target of Karaka Track and Waiotahi Tracks in Thames, Coromandel, with gold mining history dating back between 1871 to 1912. With only a handful from both groups that had done the track before, most were very inquisitive, including one long standing member, to all our surprise, hadn't done this lovely track loop before.
Big Yellow parked, we head into the track entry, with an equally big yellow boot station to greet us. Everyone scrubbed and sprayed off we head. Right at the start of the Karaka Track there is a really pretty waterfall, just to set the mood for the gentle uphill alongside the extremely pretty Karaka Stream.
The track varies a lot in width, sometimes wide, almost 4x4 and sometimes literately 1 foot width wide. That kept us all on our toes, and stopped it being a monotonous track. The track is gorgeous, sidling along side and criss crossing the babbling stream. With many worn side tracks down to what looked to be great swimming holes and many old mining tunnel entrances still evident.
As it's pretty much bone dry underfoot, the few big slips around the area, aren't an issue. Every now and again we come across tiny little patches of mud, that are really easy to negotiate. Nothing like the mud over wetter months for a bit more of a challenge. Very easy footing today!
Our medium group, everyone in the group commenting constantly on the way up Karaka Track, what a lovely track it is. Although it goes up to about 600 metres, it's not a hard climb at all, with some impressive reddy orange rocky outcrops along the way with stunning views across the valley and further to the surrounding mountains, including the very distinctive Tabletop Mountain, aptly named for it's flat top.
When we reach the track junction, the fast group, are just leaving. A restful refueling stop, and off we go. The Waiotahi Track goes gently uphill for a bit, past the 665 metre peak, then down we fly! Same again with these old gold mining tracks, varying width, some rocky, some more just clay. Lots of massive old Kauri that have been down for many, many years, gracefully rotting away.
Karaka Track had an impressive number of Rewarewa trees alongside the track, mixed with other natives, but the Rewarewa seem to tower above all else that side. When we move around to Waiotahi Track, similar again, but a lot of extremely large Kauri still standing in the valleys in varying stages of health, that had escaped the saw a hundred or so years ago maybe due to inaccessibility. There are pops of colour with Rata in flower along Waiotahi, providing photographic enjoyment.
As we swing back around the side of the ridge, we see peps of the Firth of Thames and our much missed Waharau Regional Park from more cool orangey, rocky outcrops. More dried slips along the way, once again no problem today. Although we did notice a lot of big cracks on the tracks. Which once the rains start, could potentially be more slips.
Popping out at the track end, our wonderful driver lets us know there will be an ice-cream stop on our brief walk back through the outskirts of Thames to the bus. All willing participants of a yummy treat, from the cinema no less. Cinema owner looking most cuffed with all these sales in one visit!
Slightly slower trip back nearing Mangatawhiri. Once we reached where the Ambulance was, we were wondering if the Ambo had run out of sweetcorn, and had parked, wrong way round to pick up an emergency load of corn for dinner fresh from the field. Lol!!!???
Another awesome tramping adventure, much chatter, great bunch and just as enjoyable as the last time we did this track 3-4 years ago!
We live our lives, one fantastic tramping experience at a time, but hanging out for the next time!
On our way to the heads, we pass our port of call number two, Te Rau Puriri Regional Park. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, almost wish we could have stopped, just briefly, as the light across the park and the harbour was spectacular, lit up with silvery sheen's and sea haze. They say tramping is food for the soul, and that view certainly was!!! Just gorgeous!
Arriving at Kaipara Heads the gate down to the beach was locked, so we had a really nice, unexpected 3km walk in, with the Kanuka lining the 4x4 road down to the beach. With low tide at about 8.38am, we still had ample time to enjoy the extremely picturesque Kaipara Harbour, that just happens to be the biggest harbour in the Southern Hemisphere.
With the tide out, the extensive sand bars revealed, the large numbers of sea birds, such as Oyster Catchers foraging for their brekkie! Some of the sand bars are large enough to sport a small forest of Kanuka's and others pretty sand grasses that look to be Spinifex from a distance. Wandering through the mangroves through worn 4x4 tracks, watching for the odd slightly sinky sandy bits as we work our way towards the point and a room with a view for lunch, most taking a lot of photos along the way, enjoying the flocks of birds sweeping around above the sand bars.
On the return to the bus, we dubbed one of our trampers "The Peacock", you had to be there, flapping arms and a bunch of found Peacock feathers adorning her pack! We spotted two lots of wild deer which explained some of the footprints further back along the foreshore earlier in the morning. They certainly don't hand around, gone in the blink of an eye on the 3km trek back to Big Yellow.
It's certainly a very beautiful harbour, but the view belies the treacherous waters as they eased back in through the deep turquoise channels. Onwards and arriving at Te Rau Puriri Regional Park, we have significantly less time to play with here, having done an extra 6kms at the Heads that we hadn't anticipated, so we only walked part of the way down this coastal park of dramatic rolling hills and stunning vistas. But next time, we'll spend more time here and explore the new tracks!
A brief stop at the dairy opposite Parakai Pools, for you guessed it, ice cream! And we headed back in fairly light traffic this week.
Another incredible day out of tramping adventures in our beautiful Auckland outdoors with an awesome bunch of trampers.
Everyone loaded onto Big Yellow including returning newbies, we headed up to Arataki Visitors Centre in the Waitak's. Due to Kauri Dieback track closures, one of those now fairly rare visits to the Waitakere Ranges, not the usual 50% of our time in the past.
Arriving to a perfect for this walk, slightly overcast day, premium parking for Big Yellow in the bus parking bay ..... pertinent later in the story.
We head through our first boot station and down the Beveridge Track, enjoying the scenic lookouts over the dams along the way, some of the informative signs about the different trees and what they were used for historically by the Maori and history of some of the water tunnels and we pass the now defunct Rainforest Express entrance.
Boot station number two, scrubbed and doused, at the bottom of Beveridge at Mackie Rest with another lovely view across the Lower Nihotupu Reservoir and the Manukau Harbour.
The very pleasant tree shrouded return walk along the 3.5km (one way) flat Exhibition Drive and further points of interest with the old tram tunnels making the odd appearance behind the undergrowth and the pipeline the length of the former water pipe tramway road. At the Titirangi end of Exhibition Drive, a massive Pohutukawa in it's full Xmas glory emblazoned in bright red blooms and many Tui's scurrying around the tree gorging on nectar!
Return path through Exhibition and we head down to the only semi bush type track of the day that is quite well hidden and the connector to Pipeline Road, that's actually a graveled 4x4 track, with a very large Pipeline that runs alongside part of the track.
Much like the old song, the Pipeline connects to the kneebone, haha, actually to Slip Track! Slip Track is much like another very nearby, much reputed Incline Track (currently closed), quite steep and used to be as rough as guts, super muddy & slippery in Winter, but now heavily graveled 3 lane highway. Roughly 3/4 of the way up, the track turns into a narrow graveled track, with quite a few very short flights of steps. This bit of the track is quite lovely, as you have droopy Punga, Supplejack, the odd Rewarewa lining the track, and very little exposure to the heat being radiated by the yellow thing in the sky. Much appreciated about then, as we were all pretty toasty after the grind up.
The high point on Slip, is the wicked carving planted right in the middle of the lookout across all you survey! Thick Kauri forest to the north and west and dams below!
Nearing the end of Slip, the track turns to a suspended boardwalk that seems quite reminiscent of times past.
Boot station number three and we're back at Arataki. Some taking the opportunity to purchase a Dutch Delight, or should that be Danish Delight?! Our driver having been promised a Dutch Delight, and heaps of razzing during the day. Haha!
Some with Delights still in mitt, we scoot through the road underpass, beelining to Bootstation number 4, and the very spectacular Kauri Cathedral! On the way we stop to admire a stunning Kauri with the most amazing bark and one very large Kauri that is looking very ill! Reaching the Kauri Cathedral the grove of massive Kauri towering majestically above our small lookout and how small we are in comparison to these giants of the forest. And Kauri grass covering the ground below, reliant on the trees for their symbiotic relationship and survival.
Time for the climb back up the hill to Bootstation number 4, and back to Big Yellow.
A few taking the opportunity to quickly visit the Arataki Visitors Centre. It's worth taking the time to do so.
Another absolutely brilliant day out, with much laughter and chatter and razzing.
So those not on the Away Trip didn't miss out, we had one of our additional day trips.
Meeting at Little Shoal Bay, with rain in the forecast, but calm at the time, we soon headed off up a more tramping style track most don't know about, just for a change to connect us up to Kauri Glen.
Arriving in the magnificent Kauri Glen, one more additional track that runs through the centre of the park has been closed with one of the pink Kauri Dieback signs on it. All was not lost though, as the council have created a new track that skirts around one side, that was actually quite magic! Still masses of towering forest canopy above and near us, including a forest viewing platform looking into the valley of big trees.
A quick side path and a track that only the organiser had been down before we're connecting into the Chatswood bush paths. These tracks are quite a cool maze, connecting up to so many road ends, giving endless options, but we have our selected path ahead before we connect into the larger Chelsea Sugar Works area.
Just for a change we organised to run this trip in reverse of what we normally do, and we have the opportunity to enjoy the views ahead of us in the beautiful Kendall Bay below us and the workout for the knees and quads as we head down the big line up of steps!
Absolutely spot on timing for lunch at Kendall Bay, but tide still out a bit much for a cooling swim before noshing. Pity as the water temperature is already up to 22 degrees there, and it was a sticky day!
Weather still holding out, we head our way up the tracks we normally come down, and see a few things we don't usually see on our way back through to the Sugar Works closer park areas! Bonuses of reversing the trip!
Our last bit of Le Roys Bush, and exciting to hear that another Le Roys track is a bit closer to being ready, we're almost back at the start point only 10 minutes or less away and Murphy's Law, a very heavy deluge from the clouds above!! Thankfully Punga fronds & big canopy above being such great shelter and a perfect place to hide for 3 minutes!! No point of the day with raincoats. A couple of minutes later the end of another wicked day out with the club!
Another successful Open Day for the start of 2020!
A good turnout of people arrived at Narrow Neck, on a perfect morning for a coastal tramp. Cooler air temperature, very calm seas and low tide in 1.5 hours from our start time.
A few fun bits of scrambling as it wasn't a super low tide on Sunday, about a 2.7m, so some areas where we can normally wander along the sand towards the southern end of Takapuna Beach, were still covered up. But it's way more fun to scramble a bit!
A very brief road bash across to the other side of the pensinula to the Hauraki Tracks and we're back in tree covered tracks and bridge over the mangrove'd areas.
One track we usually do here is still closed due to a housing development. A great pity as it's a really nice little track skirting along the edge of the mangroves around Ngataringa Bay.
A quick stop at the Ngataringa Bay maze and bush maze and we're off again along the tracks towards Mt Victoria. With one quick diversion to the very cool Ngataringa Bay Dragon (a mosaic dragon) that was moved from Ngataringa Bay to a walkway at the start of Calliope Road to protect the dragon from damage.
Once again, we're on our way, up the very steep, footstep wide worn track up the northern side of Mt Victoria. Briefly stopping for a few photos, we find another even steeper path back down the eastern side. With much hilarity, some deciding that scooting down on their butts was a safer option to reach the usual boring track anyone can do. Haha!
Mt Cambria Reserve, Vauxhall Sportfields and Devonport Domain grassy areas and we're at North Head, working our way up the track to find a lunch spot on the eastern side, with a view across the harbour out of the wind, that is now reasonably strong. As we were nearly finished lunch we had two Tui's land on the grass 2 metres away from us, having quite a conversation!
Back into the wind, we got our torches/headlights/phone torches out to go have a nosey around some of the old military tunnels, that are usually open, but seem to be closed for maintenance. We scoot around the other side, and find a bit that isn't closed to explore a bit, but doesn't lead anywhere as the other bigger tunnels do.
The watery ebb now nearing high tide we make our way along Cheltenham Beach, going around the rocks isn't an option as it would usually be for the last 500 metres, so one small dash along the road and we reach our start point again. With time for a swim or hot drink or both, or a gianormous piece of carrot cake!
A really good crop of capable newbies, including another family, all of whom we're looking forward to tramping with again.
Very thankfully we finished our tramp just as the eerie sepia effect, orange dust haze from Australia arrive and the accompanying cooler air temperature!
It's a bit of a book, but you'll see why.
We keep hearing that the Okura Walkway is closed, but as many are now aware, it's been open quite a while, just with a new less trodden entrance.
We all meet at the large carpark in Ara Weiti Road, ready to hit the trail. It takes about 20 minutes to walk through the towering Gum tree grove track to the historic Dacre Cottage that dates back to 1848 & the big red shed!
As usual there are a pair of Dotteralls lurking around further down the shell-banked beach.
As the tide was ebbing out, we headed north up and over the picturesque cliff top track towards Stillwater, with glistening vistas across Karapiro Bay below and moving past some impressively large, old Puriri and Pohutukawa trees.
Dropping back down on to the foreshore, the tide is slowly ebbing out, just enough to walk around the edge of the bay without the occasional tip of toes in very shallow, cooling water. Reaching the next shell bank we elect to take the back, higher path so we don't disturb the Dotterall's and Oyster Catchers in their fenced off area. At the back of the shell bank there is normally a pooled area of stagnant water with dead Mangrove stems protruding that usually make for striking photos and reflections, but it's been fairly dry so the water level is much lower than usual. Still interesting photos though.
The last trot to Stillwater is easy, dry as a bone. No mud as their can be on the flat area during winter. A brief stop at the park in Stillwater and we're retracing our steps with a variation along the spit below the big damaged, old gnarled Pine and Macrocarpa's ravaged by the winds.
As we round the spit after early lunch, the tide has gone out quite a long way already and to our absolute delight, not just a couple of Dotterall pairs, but literally many dozens out foraging further out on the wet sand!!! We estimate about 70 or more in this area. Wow, just wow! Plus a lot of Oyster Catchers and Pied Stilts. Never, ever seen so many Dotterall's together in one place, not a common occurrence.
We admire from well back so not to bother them. But unfortunately a fisherman and his family, their little charmer of a child started chasing the poor birds! So one of our group yelled at top voice to stop the kid. Had to twice to stop the kid. Disturbing!
We carry on along the damp sand across the bay, back from the eroding cliffs, past Dacre Cottage and yet again one of our group had to yell at a little brat with it's family as the kid was climbing into the signed, roped off area where the Dotterall's nest! Our disappointment wains in the second group of people with no respect for the wildlife, with another wow! Yet another big group of Dotterall's out digging in the wet sand, and a big group of Canda Geese with babies. Gorgeous!
Not bothered by us as we're a long way back from them.
Making the most of the low tide, we move our way south on the shimmering wet sands, still on low tide around the end of the headland, and more Dotterall's! We walk around to the next shell bank and note that the normal track entrance is still fenced off (due to Kauri Dieback) and we respectively stay out as planned and back track on the foreshore to Dacre Cottage.
Absolutely awesome day! Blown away by the numbers of birds, that are obviously enjoying less people to the area and what a pity none of our group had big cameras with us today to capture all the wildlife in photos.
The Council Park Ranger and DOC have been notified of the large numbers of birdlife and the disturbances we sited, so hopefully all the birds all stay so we can all enjoy them from a safe distance.