Whiorau Grove – Pukeatua footbridge – Woburn (M)
Nosey trampers are attracted by unmarked accesses to public land. We used the one into East Harbour Regional Park from the end of Whiorau Grove, Lowry Bay. Beyond a garage we bypassed the debris arrestor via the true left bank of the creek where it emerges from the bush. Soon we were in a sylvan setting, tramping up a small and picturesque gully. From the forks with a minor, true-left tributary, we ascended the main stem, and clambered up onto the broad, beech-forested spur, north-west of the creek. This spur, with mixed black beech/hard beech forest and various shrub and fern species, is easy travel. The upper part of it is a pest-control line maintained by Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and volunteers from Mainland Island Restoration Organisation (MIRO). Soon after morning tea, Christine led us up to the top of our 230m climb from Marine Parade to the park's main Ridge Track, then along it to the junction with the Lowry Bay Track. Here, Eastbourne residents Carolyn and Jan, left us to return home. We continued towards the top of Wainuiomata Hill Rd, passing a reservoir for fire-fighting, whose muddy water supported a shoal of goldfish. Along this part of the route we had seen areas with multitudes of black beech seedlings, following the recent ‘mast’ year, a few forest cabbage trees/tī ngahere, and done the squeeze-test to distinguish between mānuka foliage (prickly) and kānuka (not prickly) (see Tramper March 2013). These related species were in flower, the former with larger flowers (c. 12 mm) than the latter (c. 3-7 mm).
The 43-metre span of Pukeatua footbridge, above the summit of Wainuiomata Hill Road, is a boon for trampers and runners because it eliminates the hazardous dash across the road we used to do. We found the plod up the ECNZ road, in bright sun, hot work, so when Michele led us up a side track to a picnic table, on a spur crest, north of Towai Trig (348 m), the light breeze and grandstand view of Lower Hutt and Te Whanganui a Tara provided the ideal possie for lunch. Northwards along the road, we branched up a side road to an installation with two radio masts at the top of a carpeted spur! Here, an extensive area of tough carpet covers the ground, fixed to it with staples made from steel-reinforcing rod, the reason - to provide for hang-glider pilots seeking the thrill of flying down from ‘100-km view’ to Te Whiti Park. Continuing along the ridge-line fire-break, with some steep descents, we came to the top of Kōnini Saddle Track, in Hayward Scenic Reserve.
We tramped down through regenerating forest for about ten minutes, to the top of Dry Creek ZigZag. This narrow track is appealing because, although travel requires care in places, the bush either side is really close. We saw many young kohekohe trees and nīkau palms, both surely resulting from GWRC’s poisoning of possums and rodents, and trapping of mustelids
We left the reserve at the top of Whites Line East, walked along the south side of Te Whiti Park, to the Waiwhetu Marae wharekai, and then crossed the bridge over Waiwhetu Stream, to see in front of us the impressive wharenui of Waiwhetu Marae. Back on Whites Line East, we soon left it again to walk across a small park to Godley St. Beyond a block of flats, we reached Waiwhetu Rd. From here, Michele, Christine and ‘Winston’ walked to Michele’s car, while Ken and I scuttled along Rodney St to Cambridge Terrace, just in time to catch the rail-replacement bus homewards.
We thank DOC's Visitor Information Centre for supplying each of us with a GWRC park brochure.
- Party members
- (leader and scribe).Michele Dickson, Ken Fraser, Jan Heine, Chris Horne (leader and scribe), Carolyn Jenkins, Christine Leighs & 'Winston'