Day Trip - Sunday 24 November 2013

Two days prior to this tramp Metservice were predicting showers, however, this changed on the day to a steaming near 27 degree heat without a drop of rain. Beautifully fine and sunny, but a bit hotter than desirable for a day in and out of bush with a pack on your back.
Initially it looked like I was not going to have a driver for what Keith described as 'the shortest drive of the year'. Then Lee McKay kindly volunteered. I got him to drop the Sandringham Road trampers at The Strand in Takapuna to wait with those that had come via private transport while he drove to the tramp end at the Chelsea Primary School. This was just around the corner from where I live and I was waiting to take us back down to Takapuna to start tramping.

The opportunity to explore somewhere different coupled with the great weather resulted in an excellent turnout of thirty trampers.
We headed off toward the Barrys Point Road track at around 9.40am then crossed over Fred Thomas Drive and across open ground to the Akoranga Park and Ride Station. The glass enclosed walkway over the northern motorway gave us a birds eye view as we exited into the Auckland University of Technology Akoranga Campus. Just over Akoranga Drive we went down the walkway access to Tuff Crater that was immediately behind The Warehouse HQ that is so prominently displayed as you head northwards on the motorway.

Tuff Crater

Tuff Crater Reserve is a public coastal area that has had a lot of restoration work done by North Shore Forest and Bird volunteers together with input from the former North Shore Council. It is gradually becoming home to a thriving population of native plants and wildlife with invasive weeds and predators being reduced to manageable levels.
The crater runs for roughly nine tenths of a circle and there are proposals to put in a bridge over the seawater access at some future date to do away with having to retrace your steps to get back to the starting point.
About half way around we bumped into the ATC vets who were doing their thing here and in Onepoto Domain. Before exiting the crater we took a very welcome five minute water stop under some shady trees on Heath Reserve.

Up and over the rim via Heath Place before dropping down a track leading into Onepoto Domain. This area is a very popular place to wander around with a variety of landforms along the way. Areas of regenerating native bush and a wetland where maritime rush and cuttygrass are being edged out by pampas grass giving cover to pheasant, quail and pukeko. A couple of small bridges crossed over the man made lake where we were treated to model yachts being raced and ducks and eels waiting to be fed.

We walked over to the western side of the domain and followed a well hidden track that meandered alongside a mangrove swamp that eventually brought us out at the tennis courts in Lake Road, Northcote. On the opposite side of the road another far from obvious track led us into Cecil Eady Bush. Recent work here included two well constructed bridges and a boardwalk that followed alongside the Waiurutoa Stream.
Walking below a canopy of kahikatea, puriri, tanekaha and totara.
To the northern side of this bush there is evidence of deep ruts in the undergrowth where bullock teams pulled out kauri logs many decades ago.
At the junction of Cecil Eady Bush and Kauri Glen we exited the bush, crossed over Onewa Road, went along the short no exit Fairfax Avenue, then dropping down a steep track into Le Roys Bush. The tracks here circuit the wetlands and we climbed out the other side via Glade Place bringing us up to Highbury's Hinemoa Street. Across and down the other side via Rugby and Telephone Roads to Chelsea Bay.

Chelsea Sugar Refinery

A very picturesque bay and Liz suggested this would be an ideal lunch stop to which I readily agreed. I had initially thought of stopping at the Sugar Refinery duck pond, however, unbeknown to me at the time the Auckland Masters Harbour Swim across the Waitemata had just finished and their prize giving was in full swing. A large crowd and lots of cars.
We shared the sunny but shady lunch spot at Chelsea Bay with a group of kayakers and a few family picnickers. Nice to stop and cool down a bit as it was still as hot as hell.

Chelsea Heritage Park has a small dam and a large pond and is home to ducks and swans, short and long finned eels, common bully and banded kokopu as well as exotic species such as perch, goldfish, grass and koi carp.
Also shags and a variety of native birds such as tui and woodpigeon.
After lunch we headed up a private road at the western end of the refinery buildings and into the tracks of the Kauri Point Centennial Park. These reasonably well defined largely shingled tracks run along the cliff tops and there are several great vantage points giving panoramic views across the Waitemata towards the likes of Pt Chev, Te Atatu and West Harbour.
Down then to Kendall Bay, a gently sloping popular beach for another well deserved drink stop.

What goes down must come up and it was the short but sharp 0 to 100 metre high Swamp track that took us back up to the top of the ridge. We exited briefly onto Onetaunga Road with it's large and expensive homes before heading into the Chatswood tracks via David Beattie Place.
By now most of us were really feeling the almost oppressive heat and I offered to abbreviate the last section of the route if the majority were in agreement. I didn't have to ask twice and we duly completed about half of the Chatswood tracks before exiting to a short road bash back up to where Big Blue was parked at the Chelsea Primary School.

The time lapse since starting was five hours plus lunch so it was a very hot and tired bunch of trampers that were very pleased to be driven back to Takapuna and Sandringham Road. Total distance tramped was around sixteen and a half kilometres.
Although it was 'the shortest bus drive' of the year it was also the cheapest at $5 and no one put their hand up when I asked if anyone wanted to retrace their steps back to Takapuna.
It was very pleasing to get a lot of positive comments re the route and the desire to see this done again within the next year but at a potentially cooler time and possibly doing it in reverse.

Leader/Scribe: Ian W Morris