21 April 2007
The McKenzie Track runs from Piha Valley Track to McKenzie Junction. We chose this route today with the intention that it stretch us a little, and we certainly got that.
Assuming you are going to tackle this track from the bottom up, leave your car in the carpark at the end of Glen Esk Rd at Piha, and 15-20 minutes along the Piha Valley track you will find on the left across the stream the junction with McKenzie Track.
This track is probably manageable for the elderly and stout - I have done it after all - provided you have a useful degree of fitness, especially in your legs and shoulders as they will be doing a lot of work, and depending on any other walking you do immediately beforehand.
It's not a walking track, it's definitely a tramping track, and good boots will be an asset. Sticks are essential if you're hauling as much weight as I am.
Wonderful views towards the top. To tell you the truth I surprised myself today. I have more fitness left over from the South Island trip than I'd given myself credit for, (and thanks to a navigational error I needed all of it.) But we were well-prepared and we had plenty of time up our sleeves.
Elevation from Piha Valley Track to McKenzie Junction
First cross the stream.
Initially the path is as level and broad as the one you've just left. Young kowhai are common along the edge of the track.
Soon we start to climb through open somewhat brittle bush cover. It's still early and a touch chilly and the light is unusual - at this time of day I'd expect more yellow in it. I'm also having trouble with the UV filter on the front of the lens misting up.
Soon we are sidling up the end of a steepish ridge.
I never see a young kauri like this one by itself without wondering whether it's natural or part of a conscious planting program, though there are enough thickets of young kauri on some of the ridges to suggest there's been reasonable germination.
The track is becoming considerably steeper, and mostly with a pronounced channel down the middle.
Here and there we break through into a tall open scrub before heading back into the taller stuff.
In these open areas, toitoi and kiekie provide most of the infill.
There's also what looks like a blunt leaved mingimingi growing at the edge of the path which I haven't noticed before.