Mangaone Walkway - Kaitawa Ridges - Waikanae
22 July 2000
Saturday weather forecasts are often dismal but frequently the weather turns out much better than expected. The prospects for this Saturday were not very bright, but eight of us turned out for this trip feeling positive about the day ahead.
We did a car shuttle from Waikanae - where we left two cars - to the Mangaone Walkway carpark, where we left two others. We had met Phil Harris, ex-Wellington, now of Waikanae, at the turnoff over the railway line at Waikanae.
Our trip headed off to the left of the usual Mangaone walkway route, went down into the Waikanae River, then across and up river a short way before heading up an unnamed side stream. The first section travels generally westerly and there is a bit of an old logging tramway on the true right. The stream then takes a northerly turn, and it was around here we stopped to check maps and compasses.
Our reason for stopping was not just concern about navigation, but the state of the foliage. The supplejack in this whole general area is so thick, movement is slow, tedious and frustrating; if it doesn’t trip you up, it attempts to strangle you or your pack. However, there was some disagreement about how far up the stream we should have gone, the problem being to decide on what was a marked side stream and what was a gush from heavy rain the night before. We found later that we had gone too far and missed our route to the saddle above.
We decided to go back a bit and head up a gully onto the ridge. It was not too far up and the supplejack was slightly better, but progress was still slow. We decided that, as it was already 10.15, we had best have morning tea there rather than down below. One problem we would have to sort out after this was that we were too far up the ridge, past our saddle.
Before we moved off the ridge to the stream below, we went back southwards somewhat before descending to another unnamed stream, taking particular care that the battle with supplejack did not dislodge loose rocks onto party members below, although "rock!" was necessary on occasions.
Our climb up from the stream onto the ridge that led up to point 474 was a bit of a challenge; less supplejack, but plenty of kie kie and very tricky in places. However once we got up the steep toe, the ridge was much easier going and even the supplejack eased up, with some areas being quite clear.
We had lunch a little short of 474, then moved on up the ridge, then onto a track which led to a four wheel drive road and a microwave tower. The site of the 1949 crashed Kereru aircraft is about 15 minutes down from the microwave, but we decided to leave it for the day as most of us had been there already and we still had quite a way to go, as well as another car shuttle at the end of the trip. It was now about 2pm.
Quite a lot of road cutting has been done since I last visited this area about a year ago. Fortunately a spray marker pointed us to the long ridge track, as the entrance is now almost obliterated by bulldozing.
The ridge route is long and rather tedious after a while. We had a bit of a stop at one or two open spaces to take in the view of Waikanae’s development and the last rays of sun on and around Kapiti Island. The group also nagged Chris into a tea stop before the last stretch downhill.
I always love the last section down to the reservoir just above suburban Waikanae. The forest has plenty of kohekohe trees, and, though there are sadly no huias left in Huia Street up the road, there are plenty of tui calls on Tui Crescent. After about nine hours tramping, we reached the first batch of cars. We thanked Chris for an interesting and adventurous trip, then the drivers headed off with Jennifer to collect the other two vehicles. Masaki, Chris and I enjoyed a pleasant half hour listening to the tuis while we changed out of very muddy clothes and waited for their return. It had been a great day, despite patches of drizzle at times.
Those on the trip were: Chris Everett (leader), Mike Arnold, Jennifer Roberts, Masaki Kojima, Phil Harris, Glens Evans, Bill Allcock and Marg Conal (scribe).