North Shore Tramping Club
Twelve members of the club took part in a trip to Mt Hikurangi over the Anniversary Day weekend. This was apparently the club’s first visit in our fifty year history.
Hikurangi is situated in the Raukumara Range in East Cape, inland from Ruatoria and about 130 km north of Gisborne. At 1752 meters it is the North Island’s highest non-volcanic mountain. Thanks to the dateline it is also the first place in New Zealand and the world to greet the morning sun of a new day.
The drive was a long one – leaving from Auckland at 10 am, we arrived at the Te Araroa Motor Camp near 8 pm. The route was very scenic, especially along the coast east of Opotiki, but was a challenging one for the driver with all the hills and corners. Next morning we had a further 90 minutes along Highway 35 and then along Tapuaeroa Road to the Pakihiroa Station, where we parked the bus and began our walk.
For the first 10 km we headed southwards following a four-wheel drive track which climbed steadily upwards through farmland. The route was clearly marked by yellow posts. The weather was fine and warm but the upper part of the mountain was entirely covered by cloud. We passed several horses, cattle and noisy flocks of sheep. We encountered a young couple coming down who told us that, above the hut, the mist was so dense that they could not see from one post to the other.
After ten km there was a road junction; the posts followed the right track, but the left led to the Maui whakairo, a series of large Maori carvings. This mountain is a sacred site for the Ngati Porou iwi. These impressive carvings, representing tribal ancestors, were specially commissioned for a ceremony held here on New Year’s Day 2000 as the first place in the world to see in the new millennium.
From there it was only a few hundred meters on to the hut. The walk took five and a half hours, including about an hour for lunch and rests. The hut sleeps ten and was booked through an iwi office, Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou ($15 per head). With the special permission of this office, the other two members of the group slept in tents (camping on the mountain is usually not permitted). The main difficulty for these two was finding a flat area of sufficient size for a tent that was not covered in cowpats.
We had originally planned to walk up to the summit on the following morning but, by 3 pm, the weather had cleared and it seemed better to seize the opportunity while we could – who knew what the next morning would be like? The track above the hut led through a small area of forest, then across an area of scrub and long grass. The marker posts led us to the bottom of a very steep scree slope for the final 400 meters or so.
From the bottom, the right-hand side seemed to offer the best going but, as we later found, the left was slightly easier, though there was not much in it. For much of the way we were hauling ourselves upwards by clutching at clumps of grass. We finally reached the summit ridge where a sudden gust of wind seized Roger’s hat, last seen gliding towards Ruatoria. The summit trig beckoned from less than a hundred meters away.
However, there were murmurs that time was marching on and that we should not risk having to complete the return journey in the dark. Sensible prudence or excessive caution? At any rate, the majority verdict was respected and we turned back.
The walk from the hut to the summit was described on the noticeboard as taking about two hours, and another source gave an estimate of only 1½ hours. Our walk to the summit ridge took 2½ hours, with perhaps a further quarter-hour to the summit itself. Apparently many people carry out this climb in the dark, so that they can experience dawn on the summit. We were all of the opinion that this would be an extremely challenging walk, for very experienced trampers equipped with powerful and reliable head-torches.
Next morning the walk down to the bus took only about three hours and we had the rest of the day to explore this beautiful and interesting area. We visited St Mary’s church at Tikitiki, built shortly after the First World War to commemorate the Ngati Porou soldiers who died in that conflict (the roll of honour inside was dismayingly long). The carvings and tukutuku (woven panels) are very fine. We also admired the pohutukawa at Te Araroa – 600 years old and 22 meters high, it is believed to be the largest in the country. It must be a wonderful sight in December when the flowers are in bloom.
We had lunch at the Manuka Café at Te Araroa. The place was already busy when twelve hungry trampers arrived and the friendly lady behind the counter was struggling to cope. Keith and Kate then offered to help, having run a café themselves, and served up some excellent coffee.
From Te Araroa there was a 22 km road (unsealed) out to East Cape, then a short walk up some 700 steps to the lighthouse. Having (nearly) climbed Hikurangi we hardly noticed them. No one was much in the mood for camping food that night, and we dined at the Hicks Bay restaurant.
On the last day we had another ten hours’ drive back to Auckland. All told, we covered more than 1200 km on this trip and we are all grateful to our two drivers, Pierre and Keith.
Yesterday's Karangahake tramp, a real club favourite, was an extremely popular one! About 45 people. 30 of us in Big Yellow and the remainder from the Whitianga Tramping Club obviously keen to check out Karangahake and Waikino areas that are so steeped in gold mining history dating back to the late 1800's, where the old tracks and machinery and concrete structures are deteriorating with time.
Raring to go, we broke into a number of smaller groups. Smaller groups you move faster and can keep tabs on the whole group.
My group started our journey over the brand new suspension bridge crossing the Ohinemuri River right beside the carpark and head across our second suspension bridge in this incredibly scenic area, that gives you an air of stepping back in time, as we.climb a small flight of steps and we're standing on the historic railway tracks that they used to move gold and by product. There is a gold mining trolley gracefully rusting away.
Torches at the ready, we enter the first of the tunnels in the famous Windows Walk. Windows, due to the holes calved out of the rock face to create air vents for the tunnels that plunge deep into the mountain. As you look out of the Windows, the sheer rock faces of Mt Karangahake opposite you never fail to impress.
Every now and again switching off our headlights to spot the Glow Worms! Not so many glowing tails today, maybe a little dry?
We drop down opposite the old Crown Battery, another tunnel that goes into the heart of the mountain, but due to a slip was closed about 3 years. A great pity, as you used to be able to walk in about 50 metres and it opens out into a massive cave with the old machinery still there!
Despite Saturdays heavy rain, the Waitawheta River is only very gently burbling away beside, us we thoroughly enjoy the mostly flat track and beautiful native flora surroundings. As we reach a very popular swimming spot where the river briefly widens with a few waterfalls to provide enjoyment for all.
One more fun tunnel and yipee a few group of Glow Worms! Further up the river, suspension bridge number 3, and we hit the base of the Dubbo 96 Track, and a thorough boot clean session before entering the track to head up the mountain!
Today's planned trip was to start on new ground for the club in the Waiuku Forest...... upon reaching our turn off, Big Yellow ground to a halt! A big sign had gone up during the week to say that the forest was closed due to the high fire risk. Probably more for motor-cross bikes, quads and 4x4's, than trampers, but closed is closed.
So after quick team discussion, Karotahi Beach was the closest, only 15 minutes away & only a couple people had been there. Decision made.
Being the wild west coast, as we parked the bus, the sound of the waves crashing down on the foreshore greeted us.
The cliffs above us, the striking colour of the still lush flax against the vivid yellow and orange eroding stone, the group started our walk south along the beach with the lovely Castaways Restaurant above us and the Lifeguards busily preparing things as we strode past.
We pass a few upturned, rusting car bodies being weathered by the elements before we rest for lunch then continuing south to the mouth of the Waikato River.
Retracing our steps back to the bus, the light is still soft, the clouds wafting across the skyline, spume from the waves and sand drifting creating a gentle haze. Eyeing up the odd cooling fresh water waterfall as we pass.
Even though the beach is a shared use area, more motor-cross bikes, quad bikes, dune buggies and 4x4's, they're very respectful of us all, and give us plenty of space. And keep us entertained with wheelies and stunts as they pass.
Another stunning, very warm day out with the club, about 16kms covered and we get to do the intended tramp another time.
Another scorching hot day promised, didn't deter keen trampers and newbies to head over to Waiheke Island yesterday.
A good contingent of trampers alight the ferry at Matiatia Bay and we break into different groups to start our western end of the island circumnavigation.
Heading up onto the cliff track above Matiatia Bay the first of the sea vistas light up our cameras and phone cameras and delight our senses, with the sublime variation of colours and glistening waters and the constant melodic sound of the waves caressing the sand and rocks below as we work our way around the cliffs and dropping into a few bays along the way.
We briefly share the very picturesque bays with Oystercatchers, Dotteralls, Cormorants and a few other sea birds eyeing us intently until we disappear up the next flight of steps.
Moving closer to Te Wharau Bay, we retreat into the native tree clad shaded tracks much to our delight as the mercury starts rising skyward!
Briefly descending into the reasonably large Te Wharau Bay, with three groups of people enjoying the environs before we head back up to Church Bay Road to hook into more native tree clad bush tracks, with cicadas chirruping more loudly than we can talk.
We pop out at the trig (high point) above Mudbrick and the North Shore Based Heletranz helicopter is just taking off. Just like kids, we stop at a safe distance and video and try to hold on to our caps during the rota wash.
Ferry bound, via the wide grassed berms we make a beeline for Matiatia Bay, making time for a much needed relaxing, cooling swim in the twinkling pebbled bay.
Perfect end to a stunning day on Waiheke.
This West Harbour tramp was one of much diversity and a new one for everybody bar me.
All meeting on another very warm Summers morning at Moire Park in West Harbour, we all hit the shade of the bush tracks adjacent to the carpark heading for the blue bridge that heads over Henderson Creek connecting us to the pathways at Luckens Walkway towards Hobsonville Marina.
To ensure we have done some elevations, popping down to the foreshore for a quick look and soak up the peace and quiet.
Upon reaching the Hobsonville Marina we thought it might be quite fun to walk along the sea wall to find a scenic spot for lunch! Perfect spot found! Flat rocks, sea on both sides of us at our feet and sea birds wading at low tide in the mud flats, including Pied Stilts, Oyster Catchers, Herons, and the ubiquitous Sea Gulls and a few others.
As much as it was a lovely spot to stop for lunch, there were still more parks in West Harbour we needed to pass through and tick off! Eventually we pop out of St Margarets Park and walk over the bright yellow foot bridge that connects West Harbour and Massey, that most of us have driven under only. You guessed it! Another park to tick off, Westgate Walking Tracks!
Last park completed and we head back over the bridge and into our last very much appreciated, shaded trail, Manetewhau Walk to complete our loop back to the the cars!
Another hot day of scenic tramping, but very enjoyable, with another amazing group of very diverse range of people and ages. 16kms covered with a variety of surfaces. See you on the trails.
An absolutely magic day for the club over at Tiritiri Matangi today. Absolutely stunning weather, hot clear, nice gentle breeze, the sea almost flat and the clouds creating glistening reflections on the crystal clear water.
Once we'd had the usual greeting from the Islands' long serving Ranger almost dwarfed in noise by the raucous Saddleback chatting away, our group headed off to find birds to photograph.
Not too far along we spotted 3 x Ruru/Morepork, one being a fluffy baby sitting on a Punga frond with Mum and Dad, cute as buttons staring straight us with their massive eyes! And not much further along the track another Ruru watching us intently!
The Kokako was teasing us, with it's melodic song in the background, but remaining elusive, as did the Tahake that are normally that end of the island.
Upon reaching the Lighthouse for lunch, 5 Tahake, 3 of which were extremely fluffy large babies, which seemed quite relaxed given the people around and happily grazed allowing amazing photos!
Time to mosey back down the Wattle Track to the wharf for cooling swims and more bird watching.
If you've not been to this island slice of magic, which an exceptionally impressive amount of native bird life and incredible sea views in all directions...... don't miss out any longer!
Another amazing day out with the club and a free day at that! To do the Hobsonville and Greenhithe walk.
Under clear skies a big group of extremely mixed ages met to do the first Sunday tramp of the year.
We set off along the stunning, brand new Hobsonville boardwalk over the edge of the water that was opened in November. Before we know it, we'll all bailing up the Greenhithe Bridge and into our first hidden away bush track. There's actually quite a few and we covered most of them today, plus a short dabble along the muddy foreshore and into Wainoni Park with the most amazing hand made gates, plus a few connecting tracks to head us back to the Greenhithe Bridge.
Towards the end of the tramp a swag of the group snuck off, leaving 8 who didn't miss out on Bomb Point and completing the full 21kms by a few of pedometres!
Stunning day, and views and super sticky hot weather and great to see so many newbies!
See you on the trails........
Given it's Xmas in 2 days and there was light drizzle as we all meet up this morning, almost surprising that anyone turned up today. 7 keen beans ready to walk at 9am!
With a very high 3.1m tide at 8.20am, the cliff top track was the only option. Normally the views from the cliffs are incredible, as is usually the subtle light across the sea! Not today though, dark moody skies, but still very beautiful lit up with brilliant red Pohutukawa's everywhere.
We were very grateful of the cloud cover to keep the temperature down and we headed up and down the track, past Rothesay & Murray's Bays, dropping down to do the first sea wall with the odd tiny wave washing over our toes.
Upon reaching the second part of seawall before Campbell's Bay, we decided that part was under too much water, so headed up to do the cliff track again.
Dropping back to Campbell's Bay and then into the lush canopied protection of the fairly large Centennial Park and across to the small bush track at the school.
A quick nosh of lunch and we headed back along the soft sand and now fully revealed sea walls towards Browns Bay.
Another awesome day out with the club, despite the weather having other ideas. No need of a cooling swim after we had that from the sky!
Absolutely awesome Summer Open Day today, heaps of people, about 40!!! Really amazing newbies, from novice, to experienced to those that do major events. Massive range of ages, teenagers to the other end of the scale and everyone having fun and socialising and getting to know each other.
Really windy as we all gathered at Waiake Beach this morning. The wind was great to keep a tiny bit cooler during this really hot day. But the wind did whip up the sea and push the tide in further than normal at this point of where the tide was, so one party got wet, enjoying the challenge of scrambling around the edge of the rocks between Winstone's Cove and Long Bay.
Both groups meeting at the Southern End of Long Bay, launching into the rest of the tramp over the Long Bay Cliff tracks and stunning views across the harbour, with the odd dark cloud and the haze really adding to the atmosphere!
A good variety of foreshore, rock scrambles, bush tracks, wetlands and back to Waiake to be meet by Pete our bbq extraordinaire and hot sausages waiting to be devoured!
Many thanks to the club members that played their part in helping today and many thanks to all the newbies for coming along, you're what the day is all about and we're looking forward to tramping with you all again soon.
See you on the trails.
Some of the clubbies are away for the long Auckland Anniversary Weekend tackling a big lump of rock (Mt Hikurangi) down on the East Coast for the weekend in Big Yellow, our club bus. So we decided to we'd have a local Sunday tramp too to keep the tramping boots in fettle.
Car pooling and meeting some of our troop at Arataki Visitors Centre bright an early we head under and across Scenic Drive to do the Upper Loop and the ID Loop. The ID Loop was really cool with signs about each species of tree, hopefully really interesting for the newbies in our group today. A bit of worry though, noting, that even in this smaller area that quite a number of little tracks are closed with Dieback or prevention of. :(
We arrive back up at the Arataki Visitors Centre and have a wander around and take in the vista well above the tree canopy, across the dams around Huia hundreds of metres below. The dams looking surprisingly full despite the dry weather of the last few weeks. Pre-Xmas rain must have filled up massively.
10am rolls around and we head downstairs for the yummy morning tea, before Kauri Dieback Seminar. The hour seminar was very interesting and with Rosie Bradshaw & Nari Williams speaking to the big group with in depth information about where things are currently at with Kauri Dieback and treatment.
A quick bite of lunch and we head off down the long well graveled Beveridge Track. Or should that be Beverage.... those keen for wines and beers. Maybe you'll have to shake the pack firmly to see if liquid gold falls out! Haha!
Next down to Pipeline Track to the junction of the Slip Track that we had planned to complete the circle and go up, but earlier this week they'd had to close Slip Track due to Kauri Dieback, so we backtracked to Exhibition Drive, with a slightly different path and back up to the Visitors Centre.
Some of the interesting things we learned from some of the informative signs along the Beveridge Track, Maori's used to use Rewarewa for it's phosphorescence properties to light their Whare (house). They also used Nikau (native palm), fallen fronds like a cast for inquired arms and legs. Pretty clever!
Another extremely enjoyable day out with the club with a fantastic bunch of very diverse and interesting group.