The Waitakeres are a wonderful resource, a regional park that offers lovely bush walks, calm beaches and wild surf.
Upper Nihotupu Reservoir : November 8th 2015
It had been a while since had been for a walk out West and this was something of a Sunday afternoon stroll at the start of summer. The walk starts from a car park on the left just after the road to Piha departs from Scenic drive, and this was full when we arrived.
The track starts over a little bridge before wending its way along a little track for ten minutes through some lovely regenerating bush. After 10 minutes or so it joins the access road to the reservoir, a straight forward gravel road that takes you down an along the bank of the dam. It is only a maintenance road and hardly ever, if at all, used on a Sunday. Halfway down there is a small waterfall over a layer of volcanic rock and numerous tracks take you down to the river and to play in the stream. There is a better view 50m or so further down as the track crosses a bridge.
At the bottom of the hill a large waterfall makes its way into the dam which was half full when we were there. I found this surprising as we had had lots of rain, but maybe this is the first reservoir to lose water. The waterfall is lovely and, if you were allowed, would afford a nice swim. Instead, we walked along the track to the dam at the end. Standing on the dam wall, there are lovely walks back along the water and out across Manakau harbour towards the airport.
Two tracks leave the far end of the dam wall and head off south towards Huia. Some were closed for the moment due to kauri dieback and a large slip. Over at the other side of the dam, where we first arrived, the gravel road continues downhill until you reach a picnic site at the end of the Rainforest Express railway. There were no trains today!
Once this has been explored you can take a track to the bottom of the dam wall and climb wet and slippery steps back to the gravel road and home. All in all it is about 5km and there are some lovely quiet and beautiful spots along the way.
Kura and Omanawanui tracks, Whatipu. November 29th.
A gorgeous sunny Sunday was enough to tempt me down the unsealed road to Whatipu. Gail hates this road with all its twists and turns so her absence in Christchurch gave me a perfect excuse to head off down to the sea.
It was busy and the Huia cafe was heaving when I stopped to buy some water and a huge sticky bun full of chocolate and fruit for lunch. The car park at the top was full so I settled for starting by the bridge at the entrance to the Kura track. The signposts seemed to indicate a long walk, certainly longer than the guidebook. The first section is up through the paddocks until a gate leads into the bush and a gentle wander alongside the stream. After so much rain it was quite muddy and I slipped once and tweaked my ankle. I wondered if i should be on my own?
After half an hour or so, four stream crossings in quick succession enable you to start the climb up to the road, a relentless and often steep bash. I missed the track once and retraced my steps 100m or so to find the markers. Yes, I really should have left a note in the car and also rung Gail to say what I was up to!
Once at the road it gets busier as you join the Hillary trail. There were a lot of people walking the other way. The track wanders through dry bush to hit the road and then heads off along a ridge with glimpses of Manakau Harbour as the bush lessens. There is a big climb up to the highest point, sometimes a scramble and there are chains as well. The views all around are wonderful, especially on such a day. Blue seas, white surf, green bush, what more could you want.
From the top the trail continues on a roller coaster as it twists and turns and ascends and descends over some steep and rocky terrain. There are great views along the way, so it is no wonder it is such popular walk. I hit the road after three hours and returned to the car having beaten. the guidebook time by one hour and the signposts by two. Gail must slow me down?
A great day, finished off with a swim in the sea and an ice cream.
Goldie Bush and the Mokoroa Stream
WE had been meaning to do this little jaunt for a while and we finally set of one warm sunny Sunday. It took an hour to get to the end of the road and there were a lot of cars and we had to use the side of the road, little knowing there was no parking. WE returned three hours later to a $40 parking ticket.
The track is well made and gravelled and it is an easy half an hour before a steep drop down some steps to the stream. A scramble down the bank and the first crossing of the stream leads to a tramping track up the stream. This is rough, marked with orange triangles and involves numerous dips in the stream as you cross and recross it and sometimes simply wade up it to avoid cliffs. It was a good thing it had been dry, the stream would be awkward in full flow.
Gail was finding breathing hard work so it was a relief when we reached the waterfall and knew we were on the way out. There are several swimming holes en route and these were full of locals enjoying themselves.
A slow km or so got us back to the car, and a parking ticket!