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9 December 2006

Rangemore Track

From Titirangi, the Rangemore Track is about 6.5-7 km up the Scenic Drive, about 2 km past the Arataki Visitors Centre. It's a pleasant walk with few vices and an attractive grove of kauri at the top from which you get good views of the surrounding city.

You can walk it either way but I recommend West to East which gives you a short and not too demanding climb followed by a long and mostly gentle descent, emerging once more onto the Scenic Drive at Greenwood's Corner. (Car parks are provided at each end of the Track.)

Unless you've organised dual transport you then have about a km of Scenic Drive to walk back to your car. There's no footpath, and the road is winding and carries a lot of traffic.

Estimated time (ARC) for this track is 1 hr. Fatman time was an hour and a half back to the car, including dawdling over photographs.

Coming straight from the Ferndown, my first impression of this track is that it's a good deal more in your face. It's, on the whole, much narrower, and overhanging vegetation does need a watchful eye. Swing low, sweet karaeo.... (Maori pun. Ten Points.)

There's a nice young rimu in an open patch just along the way to the left.

It's brilliantly sunny and I still haven't mastered the art of good photographs with a big range of light intensity. This is a bummer in many bush shots where dappled light comes through as burnout.

(I love the story of the doctor addressing his patient in the new world of computer-stored X-Rays: "Your X-Rays showed three broken ribs - but we managed to fix those in Photoshop...")

Just up ahead are the kauri

Ferns are the icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned.

The Big Smoke. They call Hyde Park "the lungs of London", and I shouldn't be surprised if the same epithet applies to the Waitakeres in repect of Auckland. There was a time when I would drive into Auckland along the motorway from Albany in the morning and as I came over the rise at Sunset Rd, there would be a large ginger brown haze over the harbour and Downtown Auckland.

These kauri are still relative youngsters - not much more than a hundred or so years old if that - but still quite impressive, nonetheless.

There's something about the kauri. Nobody would think of referring, even in jest, to New Zealand as the "land of the totara", or even "land of the rimu", magnificent as these trees can be (1).

Nor is it something that pakeha have imported from overseas. Maori had Tane Mahuta as undisputed lord of the forest in Northland long before the Treaty of Waitangi. In Auckland we've named the Auckland City Walk to honour the farsightedness of the Councillors who saved the stands of kauri in the Cascades and preserved them for us to walk among.

We continue.

Every track has something about it that best recalls it - or maybe it's just my basic human laziness seeking to pigeonhole it with least effort. In this case, apart from the enclosed nature of the track, it's undoubtedly the rata that stands out, scrambling everywhere it can find a path to the light.

Alongside the track to the right an immaculate small miro shares ground with hangehange, fern and, of course, rata.

For all that the rata is something of a parasite and for all that it climbs all over other trees, often, over years, choking them and usurping their space in the light on by now sturdy trunks, we do not feel for it anything like the opprobrium we direct at, say, Old Man's Beard, the introduced clematis that has devastated huge areas of forest in the mid North Island. Even where rata grows in profusion, it shares its territory and the bush is lush around it.

When we walked the Fairy Falls circuit, the korokia taranga (Corokia buddleioides) was in full flower. By now, these have nearly all been replaced by green berries with just an occasional flower to remind us.


How lucky we are, Mr Lowry
To live in the land of the kauri
Just think what between us
Our commerce with Venus
Would have cost in the days of the dowry

Rex Fairburn


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