Baring Head - Pencarrow Lakes
14 February 2001
We set off from the Wainuiomata Coast Road along the private road which leads to the Baring Head Lighthouse. Most of the length of this road runs through land owned by Orongorongo Station, and the last few hundred metres approaching the lighthouse is owned by Mr Alan Lohn (phone 564-2509) - it is necessary to obtain the permission of both these owners for access along the road. The Wellington Regional Council owns the fenced off area of land on which the lighthouse is situated, but this is surrounded by private land and the only publicly owned access is by climbing the cliff from the coastal track.
The walk along the road was enjoyable because it climbed over a ridge which was high enough for magnificent views across the sea to the far side of the harbour entrance and to the South Island. The bright sun gave an attractive deep blue tone to the sea.
The lighthouse was interesting - it now operates automatically, and the former staff houses adjacent to it are unoccupied. An impressive array of scientific equipment under the control of NIWA is continuously monitoring atmospheric observations. From the top of the cliff we could look eastwards and see that the channel of the Wainuiomata River did not reach the sea - the final outflow was obviously by underground seepage through the beach gravels.
We set off back along the farm road and then dropped down to the coastal track around Fitzroy Bay. This track led past the remains of the small steamer Paiaka, which was wrecked in July 1906, and then past 2 inland lakes - first Kohangatera and then Kohangapiripiri. We turned off onto a farm track on the far side of the first lake, which climbed up onto the top of a ridge running between the two lakes. The ridge was high enough to give extensive views of the whole area of the two attractive lakes. The difference in colour tone between the water of the lakes and the sea was pleasant. Both lakes are dammed by earthquake raised beaches and are wild life reserves with black swans, ducks and pukeko living in them.
After lunch we dropped down to the far lake, and then returned back along the coastal track to where we could climb onto a saddle on the private lighthouse road. This led us back to the cars, the rolling farmland giving a pleasant contrast to the coastal beaches.
Party members: Diana Barnes, David Burson, Adrienne Carley, Pat Crosby,Dorothy Douglas, Kath Kerr, Jack Liversage, Ray Munster, Kerry Popplewell, Pat Reesby, Colin Silva de Simas, John Thomson, Gordon McKenzie (leader and scribe).