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6 December 2006

Pipeline Road

Well, it's a track. Actually it's a gravel road like many other rural gravel roads with minimal traffic. On a fine day you'd better not forget the sunblock as there's no shade. The roadside is predominantly gorse, hangehange, mingimingi, and coprosmas, with just a couple of little treasures here and there if your eyes are open.

And poles are helpful. Most of the trip in is downhill, occasionally steep, and loose gravel, so poles help stability and give you a hand on the way back.

The purple line marks the extent of the track. At the left hand end, the track, according to ARC notes is closed to the public. The signage here says it is closed to dogs, for health reasons in a catchment area. At this point, the Pipeline Track begins, rejoining the road further along, but that's another day.

We stopped for an early lunch by the Lower Nihotupu Dam. It's a pleasant spot and seems to attract a constant stream of visitors who stay an average of about 3 minutes. There's a sign saying toilets but we couldn't find any.

We headed back to the junction of Exhibition Drive and Huia Rd and parked the van in the shade. Alice slipped out the door behind us and was off down the track at a rate of knots after spending all of lunchtime on a chain at the dam. So, we started the van motor again and back she came. Gotcha. Sunblock - it's going to be one of those afternoons.

There appears to be some conflicting advice here.

That's great...

There's nothing else to read, so off we go.

Over to the left some kind of development is taking place, and the sound of earthmoving machinery at full grind is not auspicious. Nor is the convolvulus, honeysuckle and gorse occupying a significant amount of road frontage.

The scenery picks up a little with a few pungas making their contribution. Ferns contribute hugely to the "lushness" of a track, and to be fair, this road has ferns to spare, but still, overall, it's scruffy. And the sound of machinery is intrusive and pervasive.

From the roadside a scrubby tutu reaches out, with some brilliantly golden fresh growth on it

and a couple of flowers

which I home in on for a close up. In the bush, the flowers on most native plants are quiet and inconspicuous until you apply a magnifying glass and then they come alive.

Just down the way a little is some Fuchsia excorticata, the New Zealand tree fuchsia, or konini. This plant grows thickly along the roadsides in parts of the Scenic Drive. Tradition has it that Maori women used the dark pollen as eye makeup.

Down the road a little, a wineberry (makomako) flashes red as the light shines through the leaves

and across the road I spot a hangehange with plump green berries

The manuka flowers are as thick as I've ever seen them on a tree. I check to confirm manuka, not kanuka, and manuka it is.

Just along from here my attention is grabbed by a flash of different colour. the red-goldy green of a mature Coprosma arborea. These are common enough up north, where they are often part of the canopy, but less so down here where they are more often small shrubs, difficult to tell apart from C. spathulata. Once they grow a little the leaves grow in size as well and they are more easily distinguished.

Overall, it's still hot, the roadside is still scrub and gorse for the most part and the road is still slippery underfoot. Miranda pauses to pay attention to some ferns.

I wish I could crouch as easily as this. Maybe in February when I have slimmed down for the South Island expedition

Miranda has a new birthday wide-angle lens for her camera and today is a chance to see what happens when she uses this lens under all kinds of circumstances.


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Track Reports

Annotated ARC



In the Steps of Jack Leigh


Fitness Building for the Elderly and Stout

Food for Tramping

General Advice:
Specifically oriented to the Heaphy Track but relevant to other long walks for beginners and older walkers

New Zealand Plants
(an ongoing project)

Links to Tramping Resource Websites