Karori Sanctuary - Waipapa Valley - Oku Hill - Island Bay
Sunday 20 September 1998
Trampers by the bus-load! About 35 of us were on the No. 12 Karori Park bus to the rendezvous of Burrows Avenue where we met the rest of our party of 44. Several people were on their first medium grade trip, and some were on their first trip with the club.
Our first pleasure on that warm morning was the cool forest of Burrows Avenue Reserve with its large kotukutuku (fuchsia) trees, and several kohekohe. Then came the expansive views over the harbour and hills from Wright Hill (356m), and the huge gun emplacement build in World War II, near the look-out.
We walked south through bush, along the open "Rollercoaster", descended to Kaiwharawhara Stream and climbed "Raingauge Spur" to have scroggin in the sun. Then the temperature dropped as we entered the orographic cloud which so often caps summits and ridges. A light wind made the "chill factor" obvious, so in the last sheltered place for several kilometres, we all donned extra clothing, and our disappointment at the loss of warmth and views was palpable. Onwards we climbed to the clag-clad summit of Hawkins Hill (495m) where samples of woven wire mesh are mounted to test their durability before use in the predator-proof fence around Karori Sanctuary. Beyond the aviation radar site, we had lunch in the welcome lee of a road cutting at the start of the "Radome Track". Here our spirits began to rise as the mist rose, revealing first the deeply-incised valley of Waipapa Stream where we were heading, then the south coast, and then Cook Strait (Raukawa), ships and aircraft.
After a roll-call to ensure that no one was missing, we began the 360 metre descent to ford Waipapa Stream. We were in the city's wonderful 600 hectare Te Kopahou Reserve, an area for inspiring walks on tracks, demanding trips off tracks, and fascinating remnants of native vegetation. As one seasoned tramper said afterwards, paraphrasing an advertisement for travel by train, "Don't leave the country until you have seen the city". An hour after ‘lunch 1' we reached the forks of Waipapa Stream's main tributaries, and here, seemingly miles from the city, we relaxed and had ‘lunch 2'.
Thus rested and fed, we climbed steeply for 150 metres up the Waipapa Loop track on the true left of the valley, stopped to enjoy the change of gradient, then began the long, often steep descent to the coast between Pare-whero/Red Rocks and the mouth of Waipapa Stream. What views!! Great for the morale, great to remember. We are so lucky that Te Kopahou Reserve is set aside for conservation and non-motorised recreation, and not as it was once destined for- landfill. Fire, farming and animal and plant pests have taken a terrible toll in the catchment. The city council and NZ Deerstalkers` Association have killed most of the goats. Now we need to remove the other animal pests - possums, rabbits, hares, rodents, mustelids, cats, hedgehogs, magpies. Consider asking the city council to fund comprehensive pest control in your submission on the next draft Annual Plan.
On the raised beach near the Waipapa we rested sore knees and felt the sun, had scroggin, and talked with passers-by. The final stage was the 4km walk to Owhiro Bay - where some took the flat route via The Esplanade to Island Bay bus terminus, while the rest of us climbed Oku Hill* (101 metres) via Happy Valley Road, Robertson Street, Severn Street and the City to Sea Walkway. The view from Oku Hill was a fitting end to a long day trip 7.5 hours total time. Soon we were city-bound by bus, heading for home and hot water.
- Note: Roger Lander of Land Information New Zealand, and Wellington Catholic Tramping club, advises that peak 16456, 100.9 metres, now known as Oku Hill, will be recorded on the Datum 2000 database as Owhiro Bay trig.