25 May 2007
McElwain Loop Track
About 3 km down the Anawhata Rd (off Piha Rd) is a roadside carpark for the McElwain Loop. It's a relatively short walk, without too many vices for the elderly and stout, a good walking surface for the most part, a variety of vegetation, and a highest point lookout platform that gives commanding views of the entire area. From it you can access the Centennial Track leading down to Black Rock Dam, and Quarry Track leading down to McKenzie Junction. Both of these are considerably more challenging.
ARC notes suggest 40 minutes for the circuit. Fatman time including swanning around at the lookout for a bit, plus photo time, was 60 minutes.
We start off along a gravel track with a drain on each side - standard ARC motorway spec, but established long enough to acquire a mossy border.
I have no idea what drives this, but there are some plants that give me pleasure simply by existing and the umbrella fern is one of them - rimu is another as you might have gathered.
There's a young pigeonwood.
and tyhe ferns are lush along here as well.
The canopy is open but high. The prevailing kanuka is old.
It's pleasant walking
A young tawari growing beside heketara and hangehange.
We pass the junction with Centennial Track, which heads off down the valley to the Black Rock Dam
A young lacebark finds a home amongst the litter.
and here's the sure way to distinguish between a schefflera and a pseudopanax arboreus. The flower spike on a Pseudopanax is upright, that on a Schefflera hangs down.
Here's another favourite. Male and female trees have slightly different foliage. this, I am pretty sure, is a female. Male leaves are shorter.
The track is emerging into open scrub along the edge of the valley.
I'd not normally expect to encounter flax growing like this bedside the track. Usually it prefers to be closer to water.
The track is by this time somewhat less than a superhighway
Here's a Coprosma grandifolia, a female, in flower.
and nearby, a male in flower
A bush laywer reaches out to accost us as we pass.
We reach the junction with Quarry track, and the loop heads round to the right.