Week Long Trip - Monday 8 November 2010 to Sunday 14 November 2010 (7 days)

Monday: Travel day to a week of Mangawhai adventure. Ten of us met at Eyres Point on the beautiful expansive Te Arai Beach. We lunched and lazed in the sun admiring the local spear-fishermen’s catch and the beach cricket game in progress. We then wandered south along the Te Araroa Walkway enjoying the magnificent views before driving on to our excellent Campbell Park accommodation and meeting up with the rest of the participants, arriving in different carloads. After dinner, some of us strolled to the Estuary - the setting sun gave everything a pearly pink sheen.

Tuesday: Cliff-top walk and coast. We walked the 30 minutes from our base via the beach and roads to the start of the Cliff Walkway. On the way, at the Surf Club, we went to the Lookout to take in the beautiful coastal views on a lovely sunny morning. From the top of the steps leading to the cliff-top track, the view was even more spectacular - from Bream Head and Bream Tail in the north, out to the Hen and Chicken Islands and Sail Rock, round to Little Barrier with Great Barrier behind and south along the coast beyond the sparkling Mangawhai Heads sand dunes. Most of us walked the length of the track and then down to the shoreline just beyond the natural archway. Here we had lunch. Today was a spring tide and the sea was still raging through the archway. Some elected to wait until the tide dropped and returned by coast while others climbed up again and enjoyed retracing their steps along the top, with bush full of nikau palms and the spectacular sea views now in reverse.

Wednesday, Mt Tamahunga: An 8.30am start today and we were treated to a grand tiki-tour through the back roads of Mangawhai and Pakiri to arrive 70 minutes later at our starting point of Omaha Valley Rd. Twelve walked all the way through to Bathgate Rd in Pakiri and the others did varying distances before turning round and going back to Omaha Valley Rd. Around 12.30pm Big Blue drove to Leigh for an ice-cream and coffee stop. Then on to Bathgate Rd where the through party was just finishing - perfect timing. Of course, the through party needed their ice cream and coffee fix and our driver obliged with another stop in Wellsford. A great day for us all.

Thursday, Dome Valley: The ‘fit’ group was dropped off for the Dome track at the Govan Wilson Rd end. The others continued onto the Dome Valley end on SH1. Most walked in as far as the trig and then returned to the café to consume coffee and cake while waiting for the others. Being Armistice Day, our leader of the through party requested we have a minute’s silence at 11.00am. Lunch for us was just beyond the pine trees and after the ‘orrible ill’ (as Roy dubbed it). From nearly two hours away we could hear the highway traffic getting slowly nearer and finally we were down the last hill to where faithful Big Blue was waiting.

Friday, Brynderwyns: Sixteen of us arrived in Big Blue at the top of the Brynderwyn Hill. It was raining, with very little visibility. Twelve of us plus Doug and Ray (these two walked with us for around 30 minutes and then returned to Big Blue and the two others who had stayed with the bus) set out for Waipu Cove - 6½ hours, said the sign. Our leader said, ‘rain before seven, clear before 11’ and she was right. It cleared an hour later.

Internet information had advised that Cove Rd to Cullen was closed due to forestry contractors but we were not going there, so off we went in the mist and rain following the orange markers through the bush, past the quarry for an hour or so and on to an old logging road for about 10 km. Three hours later we came to a sign which said the walkway to Waipu Cove was closed. What to do? We decided to have a look until we came to the sign: Danger, hard hats, steel-capped boots required past this point, etc. By now logging trucks were going by. We returned to the sign. The sign did not say Massey Rd was closed so we decided to try that way.

Our leader contacted our driver, Doug, to advise that we would now come out this way. Down we went but could hear the chainsaws getting louder and were not hopeful. Soon we came to a red rope in front of an empty, parked ute - road closed. We went back up to the now very familiar junction signpost, having wasted well over an hour. Our enterprising leader stopped a logging truck to ask the driver where he had entered the forest. He told us at Glenmohr Rd which was at least 7 km away, with lots of ups and downs on a metal road and with no shade - by this time it had heated up with a clear sky. We had no choice and after 2 km or so we were met by Glen who was the Forestry Manager and wanted to know what we were doing there. We told him we were trying to get out but all roads were closed and we were unable to contact our pickup because by now there was no mobile coverage. He proved to be extremely helpful, taking three of our party down and contacting our driver and warning all the logging traffic to watch out for a bunch of ‘elderly’ walkers. Seven-and-a-half hours after being dropped off we saw Big Blue. This made some very weary trampers happy after a memorable walk in the Brynderwyn Hills.

Waipu Walkway and Caves: As the morning was drizzly, four of us visited the Waipu Museum which has been modernised and was well worth a visit. We then met up with six other ATC members in the coffee shop (as you do - four of these were the occupants of Big Blue as yet unaware of the long day ahead, waiting around and driving up and down the back roads of Waipu). By now the weather had cleared so we drove to Ormiston Rd, the start of the Walkway. The start was a bit tricky, needing a gentle shove from behind by Brian to get up the very slippery scree slope to the steps. It was up and down over farmland and bush with extensive views all around. The walkway descends steeply through native bush to the Waipu Caves complete with limestone formations and glow-worms (although we didn’t see any of the latter).

Saturday: Another clear blue sky day and a leisurely walk to finish our week. Big Blue took us to Tern Point (only a 15-minute drive). We walked on a short track to the Estuary and then through the mangroves and patches of lovely ice plants to the DOC conservation area by the big sand dune. Two members returned at this point and drove a car to Pacific Rd to pick up the driver and take him back to Big Blue so he could then return to Pacific Rd. The rest of the group climbed the sand dune and had fun devising various means of getting down again - one even climbed into a black rubbish bag and tried sliding down. Some then walked along the white sand while others paddled along the water’s edge. Today this was a serene stretch of coast. Pacific Rd is not far from Eyres Point where we started our week. We had our lunch and were back at camp by early afternoon.

In the evening we had our dinner get-together at the local Country Club. The food was delicious and we all agreed it was good value.

Sunday: We were all up bright and early. By 9.00am we had breakfasted, packed up, cleaned and tidied and were on our way. Those who travelled in Big Blue had a short stop in Orewa.

Overall our weather was great and we saw some stunning scenery.

Special thanks go to our drivers Dougal, Bob and Doug, to John Norris and Pauline for our tramps and to Anne Sanders for all her hard work in organizing our Campbell Park stay.

Scribe: Linda Webber

With: June Akiyoshi, Doug & Ruth Astley, Brian Bowden, Dougal Campbell, Roy Carlin, Barbara Clist, Cherie Cook, June Cripps, Maureen Harris, Jeanette Howie, Bob & Pauline Lawes, Brian Lynch, John Norris, Grahame Parr, Anne Sanders, John & Ann Simpson, Anne Stone, Barbara Tokley, Ray & Lindsey Vickers, Sarah Wayman.

For several days we were joined at various times by John Norris’s daughter Janet, her partner Thomas and their baby Lara. It was a chance for some of us to ooh and aah over a bright-eyed, alert little cherub.