Tomorrow (Dec 5th), the Auckland Council’s Environment and Community Committee will make a decision on proposals to combat the spread of kauri dieback, including possibly closing the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. Mindful that it may be our last chance to visit this beautiful area, we went for a hike around the Montana Heritage Trail near Bethells Beach last weekend and yesterday explored a couple of tracks near Whatipu.
It’s almost an hour and a half drive to the car-park at Whatipu beach, so it was late morning by the time we set off up the Kura Track, which follows the river up the valley behind the beach. It would be a pretty muddy walk in the winter, but it’s nice and dry at this time of year. I even managed the three stream crossings without getting my boots wet. We passed some inviting, deep pools that looked great for swimming, but we weren’t hot yet and wanted to get on.
After a while the track left the river and climbed up to the Pururi Ridge Track. We could have started back at this point, but we decided to keep walking for another 50 minutes to visit the summit of Mt Donald McLean. There are amazing views from a couple of lookouts, both east towards the city and west to the beach and the Tasman sea. We found a shady spot under one of the lookouts to eat our lunch.
To save a bit of time, we walked down the road from the car park and along Whatipu Road to the start of the Omanawanui Track. The only downside about this plan was that a few passing cars left us in clouds of dust.
The Omanawanui Track follows along the top of the cliff overlooking the Manukau Harbour bar. There are three rocky hills along the way, and the track climbed up and over each one of them, rewarding us with fantastic scenery. Over the 13 kilometer walk we climbed 995 meters in total, so Felicity has sore calf muscles today.
Just near the car we saw that there was easy access into a fresh-water pool in the river, so we gratefully jumped in to cool off. It made the long trip home much more comfortable.