Well ............ the day finally arrived where we set off on the next phase of the journey. As noted earlier, our TA journey has been somewhat different from what we originally planned but we are firmly in the "it is what it is" camp and are loving it however it happens! We have recently had a typical changeable weather event with a nasty winter storm coming through last week, but we could see a weather window opening up after it luckily - so decided on Sunday 11th Sept as the day we would restart. As noted on the home page, we are intending to section hike the Otaki Forks to Wellington section, from our home base in Paraparaumu on the Kapiti Coast, over the next 6 weeks or so as time allows. Then it will be on to the rest of the TA (Taumarunui to Otaki Forks, followed by the South Island!).
We set off from the bridge at the main Otaki Forks carpark (just south of Parawai Lodge) at around 0915, having been dropped off by our lovely daughter :-). The day's GPS tracking data can be found here. Ended up doing 17km in 6hr10', including around 45min of stops along with almost 1000m ascent and descent - so, all in all, a reasonable workout for our first significant day of walking since April!! We were pretty pleased with how well we walked and how the bodies stood up at the end, although I would have to say I was pretty sore (Belinda less so) afterwards and relished a couple of whiskys later in the evening (a luxury not usually afforded on the trail!!)
It was about 1.7km up the gravel road to the carpark at the start of the Pukeatua Track, which was a good opportunity to limber up for the climb ahead. Then it was into the hills and the start of a steady climb up to around 800m (Pukeatua). This is mostly regenerating native with a few clear areas - lots of camping possibilities (although no water). A pretty good track to start with - in fact the whole day was not too bad, although it was definitely a "tramping" track with plenty of roots and some mud as a result of the winter rains. I guess we think of parts of the Northland Forests and the ascent to, and descent from, Mt Pirongia and compare things to that - which makes today seem relatively innocuous!!
Above about 700m we came across pockets of snow left over from last week's southerly storm, but not enough that we had to even walk in any!! Just before noon we arrived at a lovely open area just below the Pukeatua summit and decided (as per the notes!) to take the opportunity for a lunch stop. As you can see from the photos, there were some lovely views both east to the Tararuas and west to the Kapiti Coast. Virtually all the cloud had gone by this stage and with no wind and around 14 degrees C, it was a beautiful place to be!!
After a pleasant 25 minute break it was up and onward (actually mostly downward, as you can see from the GPS data). There was the occasional fairly steep descent that required some care (roots, rocks and mud again!) but nothing too problematic. The descent started through more of the same regenerating bush, with more established bush in places - which even I found quite pleasant walking (I'm not so much of a "dense bush" person!!).
Eventually we found ourselves in some plantation pine forest as we dropped down closer to the Mangaone Road end of the track. Nice soft pine needle carpet to walk on - something we are used to from many walks on the farm! While its not native forest, it does have its own beauty at times.
Then it was down a forestry track, past some newly logged forest (the Pukeatua Track had just reopened last week after a couple of months closure for logging) and our first wet foot crossing of the day!!
Then it was a short walk out to the Mangaone Road carpark (including a swingbridge over the Waikanae River). We had reception so rang our daughter to come and pick us up - we headed off down Mangaone Road for about 2km before Amelia arrived, so our next section will start from there!!
Just for fun, and as an example of NZ's changeable weather, here are a couple of photos from a quick trip up the farm to check on cattle today (Tuesday - two days after our walk). This is only about 140m above sea level so you can imagine what you would see walking Pukeatua today - absolutely nothing!!! Couldn't see far enough to really check the cattle - luckily a bunch of them came to us when they heard the HiLux coming!
Belinda and Anthony (aka Tony) Hadfield made a decision, in their late 50's, to do something a "bit different" and walk New Zealand's 3000km Te Araroa Trail over summer 2015/16 - although updates will now tell you that this plan will take longer now!!. As the old saying goes - "don't leave home 'til you've seen the country"!!