Weekend - Friday 12 July 2019 to Sunday 14 July 2019 (3 days)
by Andrew Murdoch
A full bus had made its way up from Auckland the night before and many of us decided to camp on what was a cool and starry night.
A fairly early start (for winter) saw us headed up the road from Taharoa Camp at Kai Iwi Lakes and then across farmland to Ripiro Beach.
Heading north on what turned out to be a gorgeous winter’s day, we reached the Aranga Beach settlement at the base of Maunganui Bluff for smoko, then plodded our way upwards to be rewarded with an excellent view from the top.
Lunch was had on the bluff’s northern slope with pleasant views of the Ngaiore valley and Keith’s party wandering up to pass us on their way to the top.
Dropping down to Waikara Beach, we headed north, dicing with waves in the search for firm sand for a couple of hours, eventually reaching Waipoua River which afforded an easy crossing.
Not far up the coast was our camping spot for the night, just up the swampy Hahaonui valley. This site is adequate but not particularly prepossessing: if I did the trip again I’d explore the Waiarara stream, next up the coast. 8.5ish hours tramping for the day.
A shorter day which, given the incoming weather and drive back to Auckland, wasn’t a bad thing. We got to break camp whilst remaining dry but the forecast rain front hit around the same time we got to the historic settlement of Kawerua (sole remains: a derelict hotel amongst the pohutukawas).
From there on it was pretty much heads-down-tails-up heading north up the coast. We reached the Waimamaku River a few hours away from low tide so made waist-deep linked crossings up-stream in the wider lagoon area.
At around the time the weather stopped raining and howling we found a lone ray of sunshine on the beach, in the form of Simon who’d walked south to meet us - most welcome he was. Simon offered adventure, proceeding to guide us along the coastal route, eschewing the orange triangles of the less exciting headland track until it was time to take said track up to Signal Station Road.
We met the bus at South Head after about 6 hours walking for the day, and descended en masse on a surprised but welcoming cafe in Waimamaku before heading back to Auckland.
This is an excellent winter trip and something a bit different to the usual tramping fare.
Thanks to Margaret for organising and Keith and Simon for driving. We were Robin Houston, Selena Cai, Alex Sancho, Lynda Langridge, Terry Chubb and Andrew Murdoch (leader). Photos: Terry Chubb.