Kelson Ė Takapu Road Station
19 October 2013
We took the no. 150 Kelson bus from Waterloo Station to the corner of Kaitangata Crescent, one km along which is the entrance to Belmont Regional Park. In bright sun, and a gusty northerly, we climbed the zigzag through regenerating forest, hearing tūī, whiteheads and bellbirds, and savouring the rose-like scent of bush lawyer / tātarāmoa. We joined the Puke Ariki Track, and on Boulder Hill 442 m, sought shelter among the boulders to enjoy scroggin and the hazy view south over Wellington Harbour and the hills. These greywacke sandstone blocks have been split from outcrops by frost action, but not moved downslope. Such Ďin situí block fields are called Ďautochthonous block fieldsí. (Geological features of the Wellington region. 1985. Martin Turner. Wellington Regional Council). There are several of them on peneplain remnants, such as the rolling high country in this park, and elsewhere in the Wellington area.
The slopes below the summit were badly pugged by cattle, putting our ankles at risk. En route to Belmont Road, many route markers were missing or broken, possibly damaged by a combination of severe gales, ice accretion and stock. The dirt road is easy travel, with interest provided by several WWII ammunition bunkers, and in and near farm ponds, parent paradise shelducks / pūtangitangi, guarding their numerous ducklings. Beyond the airstrip, we had lunch 1 in the lee of the Dress Circle, and despite the gusts, skylarks and redpolls sang high above us, oblivious to the turbulence.
In the saddle before Belmont trig, we had lunch 2, and after the leaderís estimate of tripís length was increased, two opted to go via the Ridge Track and Korokoro Valley, to Petone Station. The rest of us descended the Horokiwi Bridleway to the true right branch of Korokoro Stream, passing a big mataī among regenerating forest.
Our final prolonged climb was up the bridleway to Horokiwi Road, partly in regenerating forest. Here we passed lots of ongaonga / tree nettle, host plant for the several red admiral butterflies / kahukura we saw. We paused near an abandoned, leaning, concrete tank, to enjoy the view of the harbour, before walking south along Horokiwi Road for fifteen minutes. From this view-point across the Porirua basin to Colonial Knob, we descended the WCCís Outer Green Belt on a track leading down to Caribbean Drive, Grenada North. We were delighted to find that council staff, in response to the leaderís request ten days earlier, following his recce, had cut back the gorse , making the descent scratch-free and pleasant. The gale produced wailing Ďaeolian tonesí as it eddied past the high-tension transmission lines, but the goats were silent, having once infested this 79-ha block, transferred to WCC by Transpower in 2002.
At last we reached Takapu Road Station, to find that buses were replacing trains. We took the weight off our feet, lying on the grass, in the sun, then minutes later were homeward-bound by bus.
Courtesy Robinís Android phone BackCountryNavigator app, we travelled 22.5 km in almost 7.5 hours, climbed 1075 m, descended 1235 m, and averaged 3 km/hr. That included about 45 minutes total for scroggin and lunches 1 and 2.
- Party members
- David Castle, Robin Chesterfield, Susan Guscott, Chris Horne (leader and scribe), Carol Kelly, Tim Stone, Christine Whiteford