5 October 2007
East Tunnel Mouth Track
If ever a track presented Jekyll and Hyde qualities this is it. It runs as a broad gravel road from the end of Christian Rd to the eastern end of the Waitakere Railway, and from there up to the Scenic Drive as the track from hell.
It was so unfriendly that I decided, with one stick only, I was reluctant to return solo the way I had come, steeply downhill, slippery and muddy, and Alice and I walked along the Scenic Drive and down Mountain Rd to get back to the van, which I had parked at the beginning of the Opanuku Pipeline Track.
So, up to the tunnel mouth itself is fatman friendly, a doddle in fact, After that I wouldn't recommend it for the elderly and stout unless your fitness is of a fairly high degree. I managed it, but I can't say I enjoyed it, and I think that enjoyment should be there as a feature of any challenge.
The Waitakere Tramway travels through a longish tunnel under Scenic Drive, and out of the tunnel continues along the side of the valley to the Waitakere Dam, doubling there as the Waitakere Tramway Track. It is a tourist attraction throughout the summer.
Alice and I set off up the track to see what lay ahead.
The advertised time for this track is half an hour. Fatman time is 47 minutes.
On reflection, I think that if I had looked behind me across the road at this point I would have seen the Filter Track heading off up to Senic Drive.
It's easy and pleasant walking with a good variety of vegetation.
A tall kahikatea stands against the sky
A small native orchid in bud.
Just ahead is a huge puriri tree. (This photo is taken looking back at it, as the sun was straight ahead at the time.)
A large clump of lycopodium hangs down from its trunk
and right beside it is a huge hanging cluster of orchid flowers, about lifesize or a little smaller.
We pass a massive boulder to the left as we continue. There's something about standing alongside a huge boulder that's hard to describe. They seem to have an intimidating presence all of their own. (More of that maudlin anthropomorphism, but I don't care....)
A moist roadside bank hosts a carpet of parataniwha.
and the unmistakeable citrus green of a slightly hard-done-by mahoe also features.