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27 May 2007

Puriri Ridge Track

page 1

To reach the start of this you have to travel over roads which themselves at times resemble tramping tracks, notwithstanding it's the main road out to Whatipu at the North Head of the Manukau Harbour. Puriri Ridge is a track that is going to require two cars, or being dropped off and collected later. There are several kilometres of road between one end of the track and the other. You can of course, simply walk back down the track.

That said, it was one of my more enjoyable tracks. It began in dank gloom and emerged after a short stiffish climb to some breathtaking views of the incredibly steep and divided hills that feed down into Whatipu. About ten minutes in, the Kura track branches off to the left and follows the stream down to Whatipu. At the end was the Mt Donald McLean Walk, about 15 minutes of motorway walking to some 360 degree views, and a comfortable sheltered park bench seat on the side of the hill to consume your sandwiches and coffee.

We went on to check out a half hour of the Donald McLean Track itself, another superhighway with the potential to take you right up to Piha without busting your trainers. More on that later, and on Mt Donald McLean.

The parking here is barely adequate. There are no bits of broken windscreen glass on the ground, however, which is always a plus.

Three quarters of an hour.... OK. We take a little over an hour and a half but a lot of that is time out for photographs and breath-taking views.

I discarded most of my pictures from this trip. The "steady shot" compensation for camera wobble (wonderful for old gits) was accidentally switched off, and in the relatively low light of the bush, sharp focus is often difficult enough as it is.

(Incidentally, it pays to have a checklist and use it even when you think you've got it off pat. Trying to delete the photos from your last trip is a single procedure, if you do it straight away, but a pain in the butt if your camera tells you the memory chip is full half-way there. Same applies to equipment - something as simple as chapstick, if it's missing, can leave you with a week of scabbed lips.)

Most people on overnighters are usually well-equipped. It's the day trips that go wrong that leave people in trouble. I never begrudge carrying a bit extra on a day trip, even when I rarely use it, and it keeps me in something like training for the bigger walks.

It's fairly dank and gloomy to begin with, a dark olive green lichen covering just about every tree in sight, a bit like living inside an army blanket.

Some of the trees are quite substantial, and Miranda catches this fallen giant from underneath as it were.

photo by miranda woodward

Kura Track heads down towards Whatipu. We start climbing.

Alice asserts dominance, and confuses the camera's focussing mechanism.

photo by miranda woodward

It's pleasant gentle walking for a bit, slightly uphill. The light improves considerably as we leave the road behind us.

It's good tramping weather, slightly overcast and misty and touch chilly, but the partly diffused light is doing funny things to the pictures. We look across to the South Head of the Manukau Harbour.

photo by miranda woodward

The track becomes a little steeper as we head on up the ridge. Is that a look of concern or impatience?

Corokia buddleioides is an attractive plant.

I'm not good on the sedges and grasses yet. Possibly a Gahnia. A young rewarewa to the right

It's mushroom season right now, and many unusual specimens to be had - many more of them edible than you might suppose, but not to be truffled with if you don't know what you're doing. Even then, there's a power of difference between edible and palatable.

Miranda gets down for a closer look

photo by miranda woodward

There are moments when you just have to take the time to allow the detail in. Miranda spends some time with this nikau trunk, marvellously patterned in greens and browns.

photo by miranda woodward

The track is at times scarcely defined among the tall saplings and the mess of litter on the ground



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