Weekend Trip - Friday 25 February 2011 to Sunday 27 February 2011 (3 days)
An eager group spilled from the bus on a starry Friday night and pitched tents by torchlight. We had reached the Motuara Farm Camp at Whananaki North, where we had an idyllic grassy campsite above the noise of the surf breaking on the sandy beach.
Our walk on Saturday was along the Morepork-Onekainga Track, which started from Kaiikanui Rd (off the tortuous, narrow Mimiwhangata Rd with its steep drop-offs). Athol had reconnoitred the area in January. This saved potential navigation difficulties as some of the turn-offs were minimally marked. Our route led across the stream and up the hill. There were several step climbs and descents during the hot day.
The party stayed together for about six kilometres, until a sharp left turn from the main track on to a lightly marked bush route. Then a faster group, under Athol’s leadership, went on ahead and Erica took the lead for our slower party.
It was cooler under the trees and we chatted as we walked, except on the steep uphill! Sometimes a very welcome breeze caressed us. At lunchtime we joined the others in the shade of a totara tree. Its sweet berries were a treat. A short, sharp, cold rain squall swept over us, the only rain of the trip.
The track continued along the ridge. At the trig we had views across to the coast and out to the Poor Knights Islands. More ridge and turns, then steeply down a fence line in the bush and onto farmland for more downhill. We could see Big Blue far below us.
On the way home we stopped at the Whananaki store for ice creams, etc. Our walk had taken about five hours and there was time left for swimming and exploring our surroundings at camp. Huge slips, which had carried trees on to the beach, had occurred during the January storms.
Sunday saw us starting our walk at the Whananaki store and heading south over the estuary on the longest footbridge in the southern hemisphere. Then it was around the rugged rocks (the tide was low) and up to the Capitaine Bougainville memorial.
The path went down to a road and, after a climb, we traversed the hills on a farm road. There were great views out to sea. Trip Photo
After our two-hour walk, we reached Sandy Bay, where some swam and some enjoyed the Havana Cabana café and others picnicked on the beachfront. Following this relaxed lunch, we took the Matapouri Bush track in the Tutukaka Conservation area. The shady bush was most welcome and we visited Tane Moana, a very large kauri tree near the track. Our path wound its way through the newly replanted pine forest on to a farm and down to the road where Big Blue was parked under the bush canopy.
We all enjoyed this wonderful weekend and were blessed with perfect summer days.
Thanks to Athol for organising and leading the weekend and to Erica for looking after our slower group. Brian Alexander did a splendid job of driving us along busy highways and challenging byways. Thanks, Brian. And Keith very kindly went back later to clean the bus.
Scribe: Sue Grant
Photos: Leah Macfadyen
With: Leader Athol and a party of 22 happy trampers.