All posts tagged: Hiking

Karekare Waterfall

Mt Zion, the wetlands + a spectacular waterfall.

This loop track is another favourite of mine, the landscape changes along the way and the wetlands are filled with interesting birds.  It takes about 3-4 hours including stops to admire the west coast views.  The waterfall is near the car park and only takes a few minutes to reach. It’s definitely worth seeing but I like to leave it for the end of my hike. Track details below.  The track starts at the Karekare car park and I suggest starting early, every time I’ve returned from this hike the carpark is full and people are waiting for others to leave.  Early is 8-9am, any later and you’ll be looking for parks. Zion Hill is a steady climb with some fantastic views. Keep an eye out for a well-worn track on the right half way up, there is a seat overlooking the coast. Every now and then you’ll spot more well-worn tracks, check them out because often they will lead to something interesting.  The picture above shows the view out to Whatipu and the Pararaha Wetlands, …

Waitakere Ranges Kauri Tree

Walking amongst the giant Kauri

“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles” It’s not until you take a walk through the ancient Kauri forest that you’ll understand what gratitude means for you.  I’ve been on many tracks in the Waitakere Ranges but this one is special, it wakes me up. Kauri trees are the home for New Zealand’s native bat, native orchids and the epiphytic plants (hitch-hikers) that hang from the branches.  Its own diverse ecosystem is happening right in front of us, yet we often don’t notice when walking. It breaks my heart to know that Kauri trees are in danger of extinction due to dieback disease. A tiny spore in the dirt can kill these giants and we can stop spreading by cleaning our boots at each wash station. I really wish people would take the time to understand conservation and why it’s so important to us as a human race. Learn more about Kauri Dieback Disease Upper Kauri Track starts at the end of Falls Road and heads up through the Kauri Forest.  This tree …

Goat Hill Lookout Track

The highest point in the Waitakere Ranges

The challenge isn’t the height of this point, the challenge is how to get to this point.  It’s a damp rainforest with muddy tracks and often very steep terrain.  There are three ways to get here and we opted for the long way, 12.6km.  Refer to map details below.   We started the track at 9am from the Karamatura Car Park in Huia (approx 40mins out of Auckland city).  There are several tracks leaving from here and they all take you up the hill. Karamatura Track starts off nice and easy with a gentle incline to the popular waterfall, although this morning there was no one here.  From here it’s a steep climb most of the way up to the junction where it flattens out, slightly. Trees have fallen onto the track and in some places, they have continued to flourish where they land. Mostly, we are hurling ourselves over or under trees. At the junction, we head north along Huia Ridge Track.  It starts off pleasant but doesn’t take long before we’re in mud and …

Lake Wainamu and a Putangitangi Duck.

It’s hard to find a flat track in the Waitakere Ranges but this one is a delight if you’re looking for an easy walk and in my case, a rare encounter with a Putangitangi Duck. The track starts off following the stream for a few minutes until you reach the sand dunes. I head up and over but if you’d rather not attempt the dunes you can continue following the stream and walk the track clockwise.  I went anti-clockwise. The track at the lake takes you into the open bush where you can see views back to the sand dunes.  There is an abundance of Kereru along the track, you can hear them snapping branches, a sign that they are eating well. Further along the track I came across large Macrocarpa trees, I thought this would be a great place to take photos.  As I was setting up the GoPro, a Putangitangi Duck waddles past the camera and down to me.  At first, I thought I was near her nest but she was only interested …

Foraging in the Waitakere Rainforest

I’m taking friends out on a guided hike today, they are keen to explore the Waitakere rainforest and I’m keen to show them how bountiful the bush can be if you know what you’re looking for.  We are hiking the Upper Huia Dam Track It’s been raining heavily the last few days, the track is rougher than usual.  We look like ballerina’s leaping through the bush, or maybe we look like monkeys swinging from branches trying not to get our boots stuck in the mud.   Above us we can hear the Tui singing and a Kereru watching us plot our way through the mud.  The Miromiro ahead of us darts back and forward guiding us along the track. It’s an advanced walk, even if you are fit it can still be challenging.  I met two groups of people turning back warning me that the track is too difficult and muddy.  This is true if you are unfamiliar with the Waitakere Ranges, some of these tracks will put many people off.  It’s not a track for …

Tom Thumb Bluffs

Huia Tracks – Fletcher, Karamatura, Tom Thumb

It had rained heavily in the last 3 days making the tracks rough. Fletcher adds a bit more, it climbs up a steep spur then onto a ridge following the bluffs to Don McLean Track.  I’m following Fletcher – Karamatura – Tom Thumb Tracks in Huia. The first section is a steep climb, moving quickly towards the ridge.  The rain had washed debris down the hill, completely disguising the track. I followed the markers for a good part of this ascent. It’s not a well-worn track, maybe in the summer but I’m walking in winter and I don’t expect to see anyone.  I do know that there is one other person is on the track because I could see his tracks (I knew he was male because of his boot size, bush skills I learnt from my father finally come into play).  I did catch up with him later, he’s from the South Island and needed some time out in the bush.  I related to this very well. I reached the ridge and it ascends …

Fresh water sharks and volcanoes – Nicaragua

Our plan was to enter through Panama and exit from Mexico travelling through Nicaragua, with $300USD.  You become very creative when on a tight budget, a $9 room, a $10 ride on a truck and a bag of rice will do just fine.  You become more adventurous too, meeting people at hostels who can tell you of the beautiful places they’ve been and your confidence builds to a level you’ve never experienced before.  If you are on a tight budget, don’t let it bother you, get out of your comfort zone and travel freely.  What you see and the people you meet will be with you forever.  By the time Amee and I arrived into Central America we were happy to do whatever came our way and that just happened to be Nicaragua.  Although its the second poorest country in the west – after Haiti, it should be on everyone’s list of places to go.  I’d like to return to Nicaragua and explore every part of it. Crossing the border from Costa Rica takes a while …

Omanawanui – Gibbons Track – Walker Ridge Tracks

This is one of my favourite loops in the Waitakere Ranges.   Time: The times on the signs would suggest 7hrs.  If you are a faster walker you can do this in 3 – 5 hours of actual walking. Definitely allow more time for stops and time exploring the caves at Whatipu Distance: 14.5km Start & Finish: Mt Donald Mclean Road, Huia – Auckland ViewRanger App Route: http://my.viewranger.com/route/details/NzczNzQ= Auckland city and head for Mt Donald Mclean Road – 50 minute drive. Puriri Ridge Track – 2km.  This is a nice gentle start to an early morning, its mostly along the ridge and downhill. Once at the road cross over and head along Omanawanui Track. Omanawanui Track – 3km.  Walking along the cliffs to see some amazing views of Manukau harbour and Whatipu.  This was probably one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve been on in the Waitakere’s because of the views.  Stunning! Some of it is steep. Manukau Heads Whatipu – Camping Ground.   This has all of the facilities needed and the scenery is magic. Handy to all …

Pinnacles Walk and Billygoat Track, New Zealand

Usually when I go hiking I take my camera but this time, I took the GoPro.  If you want to skip the detail for now, here’s a summarised video of the track and hut. YouTube Link to Video Pinnacles Walk – Kauaeranga Kauri Trail Difficulty: Medium/hard Length: 17km Hours:  3 hours to Pinnacles Hut 90 minutes return to Pinnacles and back to the hut 4 hours from Pinnacles hut to car park via Billygoat Track Cost:  $15 adult/night, $7.50 child/youth/night (5 -17 years), preschool free (0 – 4 years). Bookings https://booking.doc.govt.nz/Menu.aspx?sg=KKT The history of the area is very interesting. Kauri trees once covered this entire area but it was cut down by the first settlers in the 1870’s until 1920’s.  Today we only have a few Kauri left and unfortunately those trees are endangered due to a disease that is wiping them out. Kudos to DOC rangers who look after the huts and tracks. The drive to the track start is about 2 hours from Auckland city, we left 7am Friday morning so missed the traffic.   We started on the …

Gasping for air in the Andes – Bolivia

I had to convince my lungs several times to keep going, it felt like they were going to explode!  I wondered if my mind was going to pack it in too, why am I doing this?  I’m walking up Mt Chacaltaya, in the Andes, to reach the summit at 5,421 meters!  The summit is higher than Everest base camp, or for us Kiwi’s its higher than Mt Cook (3,700 meters).  No wonder I’m struggling!! The altitude is thin, every breath feels like a gasp.  Its cold but it’s not snowing, its dry, its empty. The sun is close, I can feel each UV Ray striking my face.  Should have put that sunscreen on like I was told too! I’m feeling the effects of altitude sickness and no way will I turn back.  It doesn’t matter how fit and healthy you are, the sickness will pick anyone!  Amee my cousin, was back at the hostel suffering badly from altitude sickness.  She was out for 4 days and due to the lack of oxygen her lips turned blue!  Amee is extremely fit where as I’m only average.  50% of people who arrive into La Paz will experience …