Te Araroa Escarpment
In November 2008 I joined a Ken Fraser-led ‘Off Track Exploration’ MF trip along the Paekakariki Escarpment.
Approaching from the north, there was a reasonable track to the highest point but beyond there, nothing! We slipped and slid along steep sidles and across narrow gullies before finally descending to State Highway One over a rail tunnel, walking along Pukerua Bay beach and up to the railway station. A good day’s tramping, seven or more hours. Now it is a 10 km, two and a half hour scamper.
Alighting at Pukerua Bay station, I proceeded from south to north. The signposting through the Bay suburbs to the start of the track proper is excellent; this section includes a short stretch along the old Muri station platform. The track along the escarpment itself is very well formed. There are two swing bridges to cross and multiple sets of steps to scale before the high point (220 m) is reached. (In places the stair treads are quite narrow so that I had to pigeon-toe up in my clodhopper tramping boots). Beyond the high point there are far fewer rakes of stairs and although the climb is greater, I suspect north to south is an easier way to go.
The last two or three kilometres is beside the railway line and highway and will be much less noisy when Transmission Gully opens. Noticeable here was how the vegetation had increased in height and density since my last visit (in 2013).
Passing under the northern abutment of the road bridge there is the option of crossing south over the bridge and turning right onto Ames Street, or proceeding north where a track soon diverges from the highway roadside.
On a cloudless windless Friday there were plenty of walkers out. A group of fifteen ‘regulars’ and others, perhaps 30 in all in the time I was on the track. (Most were travelling south to north).
The track carries kilometre markers and quite a few information boards. (Oh and yes, the views are indeed outstanding).
- Party members
- Colin Cook (scribe).