Island Bay – Seatoun M
21 June 2014
Off-track travel in suburbia appeals to trampers who enjoy exploring the unknown near home. We each had a cadastral aerial photo, showing the Unformed Legal Road (ULR) linking the Bristol St zigzag above Brighton St, with the Bristol St cul-de-sac west of Melbourne St. When climbing the zigzag, we met a local resident who was chuffed that we were about to traverse the ULR over the prominent knob. From its summit we saw fishing boats moored in Island Bay sheltered by Tapu Te Ranga Island and a ferry beyond.
Up the zigzag to Orchy Crescent, Southgate, we got ever-wider views across Cook Strait / Raukawa, and the chance to read the information board at the carved pou whenua. It marks the site of Uruhau Pā, a stockaded village of Ngai Tara. (uru = head; hau = windy).
At Orchy Crescent, we talked with a resident who had been pleased to see a route being created over the Bristol St ULR the previous week, and who told us about his track-clearing activities nearby.
From the wind-swept 121-m summit of Bann Street-Orchy Crescent Reserve we saw the snow-covered Inland Kaikoura Range 120 km away, the site of numerous club expeditions. We tramped north along the ridge once known as Te Ranga a Hiwi, now occupied by the suburb of Southgate, and took the Buckley Road Reserve track; it sidles through regenerating forest above the former tips in Houghton Valley. On the track, we talked with a man about his extremely furry, black and white Finnish Lapp hound, one of only three in NZ. At Sinclair Park, we descended a sealed path to cross a sports field where Karl had played soccer in the early 1960s. At Houghton Valley School’s play area we sat on large tyres and a platform, to enjoy scroggin and cuppas in a sunny, sheltered spot. In 2002, the school planted native trees in the adjacent gully and built a track up it to Houghton Bay Road. It suited us perfectly.
Welcomed by a tūī, we descended the impressive Houghton Terrace zigzag which drops c. 100 m to Lyall Bay. Despite the strong nor’wester, big rollers were coming in from the south, making the sea run right up to the basement of the Surf Rescue building. Dodging the incoming waves, driftwood, chatting people, and cavorting dogs added to the atmosphere.
We plodded south along Moa Point Road through the tunnel under the runway, along Stewart Duff Drive and up the road towards the Sewage Treatment Plant. Clambering up steps and a track above the golf course, we reached Kekeranga St, Strathmore Park, and entered Rangitatau Historic Reserve. It is the site of several former kainga, pā and concrete fortifications on the ridge once known as Orongo. Near a WW2 tennis court, we lunched while enjoying the view beyond the Ataturk Memorial to Pencarrow and Baring Head After walking briefly in Strathmore Park to Bury Grove, we reached the Eastern Walkway and tramped north through regenerating forest. We had copies of the WCC brochure for the walkway and a WCC cadastral map showing Rangitatau Reserve Precinct, (site M109 in the District Plan - see Tramper July 2012), and the properties on Breaker Bay Road in Eve Bay. A short distance beyond the junction with the track to Sidlaw St, we began to descend a spur leading to Eve Bay. Travel is not difficult, but the key is to know where to drop north off the spur into the tiny creek. We managed this, thanks to an earlier recce and the clearance of weed infestations beyond the bush edge towards a tiny park and the road. We celebrated our excursion with hot drinks and cakes at the café in Seatoun, 5.5 hours after we started.
- Party members
- Walter Baier, Hera Cook, Ken Fraser, Karl Hopf, Chris Horne (leader and scribe), Gavin Mickell, Twyla the puppy