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9 December 2006

Ferndown Track

An often scruffy track, but nevertheless with a character and charm of its own. "Raffish" might be the word. I'll happily walk it again. Whichever way you tackle it, there's a steady gentle climb followed by a steady and gentle (if slippery) descent with a simple stream crossing thrown in for adventure.

This expedition begins at the implausibly named Pope-Godley Reserve, down a narrow unsignposted gravel road on the left towards the end of Opanuku Rd off Mountain Rd, off the Scenic Drive. The reserve name I found on the ARC notes: it doesn't feature on the spot itself. To complicate matters still further, there is no mention of the Ferndown Track either. You have to know it's really there.

Track notes record the Ferndown Track as going from road-end to roadend, with the Taumata Track branching off about 5 minutes in . This is what the next set of signs suggests, also:

with, off to the right,

I park the van and while the kettle is boiling, I get changed. I am going to appreciate my boots today. (And my poles.) There have been some heavy showers this morning, and a somewhat wet summer so far, and this track has not had the Montana treatment. For much of it's distance it consists of the standard 1.5-2.5 metres width, clay or rock surface, with a ditch down the centre and lots of tree roots, with regular muddy patches bordering on boggy.

A few yards down the track is a locked gate. The pedestrian access is for 80kg persons and smaller.

I swing cautiously around the left hand end which has no fence attached, and a 2 metre drop below it.

The first part of the walk is basically scrub, with a fair helping of nuisance exotics, saved for me by the lush contribution of Schefflera digitata. The plants here have an almost tropical air about them.

A little further on in the middle of a patch of "normal" Schefflera there is a "juvenile" form - presumably all from the same seed batch being this close together.

For today, Alice has taken over the position normally occupied by Miranda in these records:

The track varies between grassy and open to the sky like this to a still scrubby but more contained form as some of the older trees spread out and meet or almost meet across the track.

I pass a lacebark with a rather unusual looking gall - several in fact - attaching to its branches. They vary in colour from mid-green to quite a dark brown. I've never seen them before.

We pass the junction with the Taumata Track,

and head slowly down to the stream crossing.

It's quite muddy in patches, and this continues to be the case throughout the walk. The moisture, however, appears to encourage a thriving population of ferns.

As we approach the stream, the vegetation on either side of the track becomes taller.

and, as we expect, as we get closer to the stream we begin to see putaputaweta make an appearance. It's mostly tiny shrublets, but there is one plant in flower further along, out of reach of the camera unfortunately.



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