Day Trip - Sunday 27 November 2011

Here was a chance for the more energetic trampers to test their fitness out before the onset of their summer tramping trips. A new route had been worked out to ensure the group ended up setting foot on 5 dams and checking out a 6th disused dam. The target was to cover the 30.6 kms in 8 hours, although the leader duly produced a carefully calculated schedule that estimated the trip at a bit less than that - looking more like a forced march or one of Jim Morrow’s Oxfam training schedules than a standard tramping trip.

Route kms Type Speed Hrs Cum Hrs Start End
Waitak Dam to end of Fenceline 4.00 Road / easy track 6 0.7 0.7 09:30 10.12
Fenceline / Long Rd / Ridge Road / Cutty Grass 5.30 Track, some mud 4 1.3 2.0 10.12 11:30
Ian Wells track to old dam 2.25 Track, some mud 4 0.6 2.6 11:30 12:06
Lunch       0.2   12:06 12:18
Old Dam to start Christies 3.00 Formed road 6 0.5 3.3 12:18 12:48
Christies Track to Huia Dam Rd 2.00 Rough track, some mud 2 1.0 4.3 12:48 13:48
Christies Track to / from Upper Huia Dam 4.60 Formed road 6 0.8 5.1 13:48 14:36
Christies Track to Lower Huia Dam 3.50 Formed road 6 0.6 5.7 14:36 15:12
Lower Huia Dam, Parau 5.50 Harder track, some mud 3 1.8 7.5 15:12 17:00
Onto Lower Nihotupu Dam 0.50 Formed road 6 0.1 7.6 17:00 17:10
TOTALS 30.65     7.6      

On the day there were seven victims lined up, rearing to leave at 9.25 from Scenic Drive at the top of the road down to Waitakere Dam - great, 5 minutes early! But we had to break the news to Brian that his lunch hour was only scheduled for 10 minutes...

So off down and across the first dam, then onto Fenceline Track, now a walker’s highway as it is part of the Montana Walkway circuit. Going north to south there is a noticeable hill away from the reservoir that you don’t notice when you go the other way. Reached the corner of Fenceline and Ridge Rd a few minutes behind schedule, so no time to stop, and on down Ridge Rd Track. Fortunately not so muddy as a few months ago, so arrived at Cutty Grass corner near NTK, then the corner with Ian Wells Track both 5 minutes ahead of schedule.

Somewhere along here Lee realised what the 6 in the speed column meant - yes - kph - a good brisk walking speed on an easy surface.

Ian Wells track is a real pleasure with shady bush covered track heading down to the Nihotupu Stream and tributaries, then back up again through some interesting water features on the track, arriving at the disused dam not far from Piha Rd. Rather than the planned tame view of the dam, Brian quickly had us going down a side track to the bottom of the dam - and then into the hollow middle of it, into the stream that comes in through one of the holes made when the dam was decommissioned, past a sign saying Danger, Keep Out, then up onto a sunny grassy spot where it was lunchtime... still ahead of schedule. Occasional good humoured mutterings about letters of various spurious complaints being sent to the committee, but the only committee member present (the leader) was able to provide assurance that such ill conceived ideas would find a ready home... in the bin.

The 10 minute stop predictably enough became 15 minutes, but a great effort by all, especially Brian, saw us heading off across Piha Rd, then down the dam road to the Upper Nihotupu Dam (No 3), across it, and onto Christies Track. Which as expected was a slower proposition, although again not as muddy as a couple of months before.

Waitakere Resevoir

A great effort by the group saw us arrive at Huia Dam Road ahead of schedule again... anyone would think someone was being a bit obsessive... hmmm. A chance to regroup, help some young tourists with track directions back to their car on Piha Rd, check out options for anyone wanting to skip the next section (no takers), and then up the dam road, through a decent tunnel, to the foot of the Upper Huia Dam (No 4). Feet were duly set on the dam (we didn’t say the top of the dam did we?), before retracing our steps and then continuing all the way down to Lower Huia Dam, with no one at this point really appreciating the 60m elevation it gains and then loses alongside the Lower Huia Reservoir.

Time to regroup again on the slope at the Parau end of Lower Huia Dam (No 5 but not finished yet) and now about 15 minutes behind schedule as we left. The leader had regrettably forgotten to cover up the next sign advising of 3.5 hours to the end of Parau Track - not what you want to see at approx. 3.30pm when you know that Big Blue will be at the other end. But on the team went, still at a good fast, albeit quite tired, pace. So, in spite of the big dip and matching uphill section part way along, the planned time for that section was met, with all reaching Big Blue within a minute or two of each other at 5:15pm.

And the next dam? ...we admired Lower Nihotupu Dam from Big Blue as we packed up for the day - thanks to Brian we had already set foot on 5 dams as advertised, so that was enough for the day.

Thanks also to Geoff Fischer (leader of the medium party) and Brent Rose (driver) for completing the more leisurely medium trip to schedule, but not too early, so that the medium party members who had not managed to pick up an earlier ride back into town had less than half an hour to wait before heading off back into the city in Big Blue.

A great effort by the whole party!

Leader/Scribe: Tony Walton

With: Brian Delbridge, Dennis Brown, Ian Roberts, Lee McKay, Rod Worley, Willi Williams.