The Waitakere Dam area, as with many other parts of the Waitakere Ranges, has always been a favourite
with the Club. The Club’s first unofficial trip, on 25 April 1979, was to this area, and the Club has
visited it many times since then with this occasion drawing about 25 people.|
We left The Bracken
soon after 8am and picked up more trampers at McDonalds in Lincoln Rd before going on to Pukematekeo
for our “warm-up” walk. Pukematekeo summit is an easy 5-minute walk from Scenic Drive up a road no longer
open to public vehicle access. From the summit we had an excellent view looking out to Auckland and the
Waitemata Harbour with Rangitoto Island behind in the early morning sun; southwards we could see the
Waitakere Dam, and to the west the Tasman Sea.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s one could drive up
a narrow one-way road from Scenic Drive under the down-road bridge to the summit, then drive over this
bridge returning to Scenic Drive by a second one-way road. Eventually the wooden bridge became unsafe
through rotting, and by the 1980s the original down road was widened to become a two-way road providing
vehicle access to the summit, and the up road open only to pedestrians and cyclists. Thanks to undesirable
“hoons” you can now visit the summit only on foot or push-bike. The remains of the old bridge are still
We got back in the cars and drove the short distance along Scenic Drive to the start of
Filter Track and donned our boots ready for our tramp. Filter track starts as a very gentle drop which
then becomes very steep. We passed several large kauri trees on the way down to the Waitakere Filter
Station, which filters water piped from the Waitakere Reservoir.
After a rest and toilet stop
on the lawn outside the filter station we went on to the Swanson Pipeline Track. This drops down to go
through an old tramline tunnel following the pipeline from the Waitakere filter station.
through the tunnel the Peripatus Track went off to the left almost in the opposite direction, dropping
down to cross a lovely little stream before starting a long steep uphill grunt. Before coming out onto
Scenic Drive the ascent became more gradual. Those who were first out on to Scenic Drive took shelter
from the blazing sun in the bush at the start of Anderson Track while waiting for the rest of the group
The last people to arrive had been slowed down by one of the group who had a health
problem and was finding the Peripatus grunt very tiring. The leaders thought that this lady could amble
back to the cars with one or two of the others, but when she arrived she felt much better and decided
to carry on with the rest of us as we dropped down to the Waitakere Tramline at the western end of the
long tunnel under Scenic Drive.
The Waitakere Tramline was built in 1901 and originally went
through to Swanson to join the main railway north of Auckland. Downhill from the Waitakere filter station
the line had been taken up and is now Christian Road; uphill from there the line is still in use - Watercare
uses it to service the pipeline, and the Waitakere Tramline Society runs passenger trains for pre-booked
We followed the tramline to a picnic area about one-third of the way to the Waitakere
Dam, which was to be our lunch stop. There was already a group from the Auckland University Tramping
Club already lunching there - they were doing a weekend pack-carrying tramp to their road-sign-decorated
hut at the head of the Anawhata valley. That night they were planning a concert of skits at the hut,
and a tramp out to Piha next morning to cool off in the surf.
Our group had lunch on the other
side of the tramline from the varsity group.
As we were settling down to eat, a train arrived
carrying a maintenance gang ready to tidy up the area and mow the grass. The gang started working at
the far side of the picnic area allowing both groups to finish their lunch unhurried.
we carried on along the tramline through a short tunnel, then on up the valley where we could look across
to the dam and the rock face below which was a spectacular waterfall before the dam was built.
near the end of the tramline (which was closed off by a high fence and locked gate) we climbed up a long
series of steps to come out to the top of Waitakere Dam, where we could see the completely full water
Some of us took another series of concrete steps leading down to the top of
the cliff face at the foot of the dam. Originally a raging waterfall, the cliff face has been used by
commercial abseiling tour companies, but there was no-one trying this out - in fact a safety fence had
been built right across the top of the face.
Our original intention was to do the Fence Line Track-Robinson
Ridge Track loop but we were running behind time, so we made do with a walk along the Fence Line Track
to a small earth dam along the side of the reservoir that had been made to increase the capacity of the
Some of us carried on a short way along the Fence Line Track uphill, but there was
nothing to see but bush. As we began to turn back, the university group came along - they were on the
way to their hut. We continued on up the Waitakere Dam Road (closed to motor vehicles) and we back at
our cars by 3:30pm, ready to try the delectables offered by the Swanson Railway Station cafe and/or the
nearby icecream shop.