Day Trip - Sunday 17 March 2013

After many weeks of virtually no rain, the gods decided the time was overdue for a good solid downpour timed to coincide with my Muriwai tramp. Despite this we still had 19 trampers ( including 5 non-members ) ready and willing to enjoy a tramp with a difference which included the gannet colony, bush tracks, a road bash, a farm walk, a rock climb and a beach walk.
First it was up the cliff steps at the southern end of Muriwai beach to take a good look at the gannets. There were plenty of birds, to be viewed from the good- sized viewing platforms which also overlook Maori Bay, sad scene of the fatal shark attack a few short weeks ago.
After this great photo opportunity it was up through Quarry and Edwin Mitchelson's tracks to Oaia Road. A short road bash here took us to Houghton's Bush Camp, a church-run organisation that provides courses for young people that include time outside amongst the surrounding bush track area. Behind the back of the camp Houghton's Bush track led us down to Houghton's Farm.

Access through this privately-owned farm had been pre-approved some months earlier. It’s fitting to note that Glen Houghton has a reputation of freely allowing various groups to walk through his very picturesque farm. After crossing a short swampy area we went around the western side of Lake Okaihau. This beautiful lake has large areas of colourful water lilies around the perimeter, again providing further photo opportunities.
We left the farm at the north-westerly corner, and the route then took us alongside Orokito Stream. There’s no properly defined track and it’s quite sandy, very uneven and overgrown.
The rainy weather was by now starting to ease a bit, and we stopped for lunch at the northern end of Coast Road with some sizeable logs providing convenient seating.
After lunch, off into the southern end of Woodhill Forest, and along three unsealed forestry roads before cutting down a roadside bank to arrive at the foot of Pulpit Rock. So-named for obvious reasons when viewed from below. This rocky outcrop has a distinctive skyline.

Muriwai Gannet Colony

Not wishing to let the group off too easily, we took the direct route to the top, bush-bashing and scrambling our way up the very steep side, to be rewarded with magnificent views across the pine forest tree-tops, to the Tasman Sea surf beyond. This was another great photo opportunity despite the still indifferent weather.

Down again to the base of the rock and we split into two groups. The 'guns' Brent, Carol, Lynda and a few others took a forestry road straight out to the beach before turning left to walk the length of the beach back to the club bus at the southern end carpark.

The rest stayed with me as we retraced our steps back to our lunch spot, before then heading out and back along the beach from Coast Road. Our driver John Tasker gave us a compulsory stop at the local cafe / takeaway where most of us indulged in either icecreams or milkshakes in what was now a relatively warm and sunny day.

Despite the weather, everyone appeared to have been pleased they had come along for the day and those who may have not come for that reason missed out on an interesting day overall.

Scribe: Ian W. Morris