Auckland Baptist Tramping Club


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Friday

We departed The Bracken at 5.15pm travelling in a 10-seater hired van and a station wagon. There was a 30 minute meal break at Wellsford, and both vehicles arrived at the Omapere Methodist church by 10pm. We bedded down in the church hall.

Saturday

6.30am  wake-up, 7.00am Breakfast, and we were packed and away at 8am for Pawarenga to catch 8.45am car ferry from Rawene. It takes about 25 minutes to get to the Rawene Ferry (car ferry goes every half hour). We reached Pawarenga by 10.15am and started walking 10.30pm. Doug & Leonie McKenzie then drove the vehicles back to Omapere.
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From the end of the road we walked west around a muddy bay on the south side of the Whangape Harbour and then rounding a headland we walked along side the narrow entrance channel that has steep hills on both sides. By 11am we reached a valley on our left with a waterfall at the top of a sheer dark stone face. Then after only another 100m as the steep slope resumed on our left Paul noticed an old wooden sign low to the ground saying simply "track". This was the clue we needed and we followed a very narrow dirt track up the steep slope. Eventually the track had a left fork and we followed this upward to reach the ridge which we then followed high above the harbour channel for about 30 minutes until we stood high above the entrance itself. On the left side of the ridge was a deep bush clad valley with numerous patches of yellow Kowhai trees, after which the track is named.
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We had lunch at 12 noon as the track gradually dropped away near the Tasman coast. After this the track over open grassland dropped down to the beach. We walked south along the beach 2 kilometres (about 40 minutes) before reaching a kilometre of rocky coast. Since the tide was now coming in one place we had to dash across a submerged part between wave surges (if it had been impassable it would have been simple to scramble up over the headland). Then 3 more km of beach and sighted a house which we knew was part of Mitimiti. We then clambered up over the dunes to the metal road which continued south another km before we saw the marae and took short road on the left to reach it at 4.50pm.
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We had only just reached the carved entrance arch when there was a sudden deluge of rain and hail. We were able to shelter under the roof of the small entrance to stay dry while we watched the figures in the meeting house and occasionally waved to indicate we were waiting to be "welcomed". When the rain stopped they motioned to us to come in. We removed our shoes and entered where the "chief" and the two main ladies (in black dresses) prayed and crossed themselves, facing a statue of Christ. We were then told to sit down on a bench. The chief with a carved stick then gave a welcome speech in Maori. Eventually Paul was asked to respond, introducing himself and the tramping party and giving Godís blessing and expressing great thanks for the welcome. Paul then paid the $200 koha (as arranged when Ruth made the booking).
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Following this the two main ladies moved forms into the room and placed mattresses on them to provide us with beds. We showered and enjoyed our meal in the next building. That night it rained heavily again Ė even though on both days of the tramp we had no rain while we were walking.

Sunday

Again up at 6.00am with breakfast at 6.30am. We were away by 7.45am, first visiting the cemetery on the hill, then dropping to the beach and walking south until about 10.30am when we were close to the first of the great sand hills that would take us across to the north side of the Hokianga Harbour. We then started inland toward the high sand hill following a 4wd track. When this track reached the sand we continued to climb more steeply until we reached a flatter part that eventually led us NE toward the highest point of this totally sandy desert mountainous peninsula. From here we looked down on the beautiful blue harbour and across to Opononi and Omapere on the south side. We enjoyed a couple of downhill romps as we continued along the inland side of the sandy peninsula and at noon, above the last drop to the harbour, we sat down to have our lunch.
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Lunch was to be followed by Paulís devotions about "the desert", but only half way through lunch we saw the small aluminium "ferry" launch come toward us from across the water. We phoned on the cell phone and sure enough he had come for us now instead of 2.15pm because he could see we had arrived. We quickly descended the last sand slope and climbed up the short ladder which had been extended from the front of the boat.

The two 150hp outboards got us to the Opononi wharf in 5 to 10 minutes and we moved to the beach next to it, to finish our lunch and have our devotions. After this Doug and Leonie brought our vehicles and we loaded the trailer with our packs beside the new "Opo dolphin" statue. We left for Auckland about 1.30pm. There was a 40min fuel and coffee break at Dargaville and we reached Bracken Ave at 6pm Ė the end of a perfect weekend