The two vehicles left Auckland at approximately 6.15 pm, and stopped at Wellsford for
dinner. We arrived at our overnight accommodation at the holiday home of Mark and Bronwyn Capill, 330
Nook Road, Parua Bay, Whangarei Heads, at approximately 9.20 pm, where we spent a comfortable night.
We departed at 8.25 am, and headed along the Whangarei Heads Road to Urquharts
Bay Carpark. After dropping participants here the drivers took one car to the Ocean Beach Carpark, a
distance of approximately 5 km, and brought the other car back to Urquharts Bay Carpark (which is at
the end of Urquharts Bay).
We had decided to start with the walk to the World War 2 gun emplacement
at Bream Head, and were on the track by 9.20 am. The weather was fine with a slight breeze. The track
was muddy to the gun emplacement, with some stock (steers) to by-pass, but thereafter it is a well drained
and gravelled track all the way to Smugglers Bay. The gradient is easy, with one short climb. Before
reaching Smugglers Bay we dropped our packs and did a short side trip out to Busby Head. We then went
on to Smuggler’s Bay, a lovely white-sanded beach only accessible by foot or by boat, arriving at approximately
10.50 am. We spend approximately 20 minutes here, for a morning snack and time to enjoy the lovely views
of Bream Bay south to the Hen and Chicken Islands. After a short ascent out of Smuggler’s Bay (eastwards)
we linked up with the track that heads east along the top of the range to Ocean Beach. This track is
an old route used by the Maoris, and it traverses the summits of Matariki (Mount Lion) and Mount Te Whara.
Before long we hit the steps which ascend Mount Lion (Matariki), and some 1297 steps later we reached
the summit of Mount Lion [395 metres] at various times between 12 noon and 12.15 pm.
stopped for lunch, enjoying the view north to Ocean Beach and the Poor Knights Islands and beyond. From
here we descended, again frequently encountering steps, until it flattened out along the ridgeline, ultimately
reaching the turnoff down to Peach Cove Hut at 3 pm. There is a descent of 857 steps down to Peach Cove
Hut, where we arrived at approximately 3.20 pm. This is a comfortable 8 bunk DOC Hut, which we had booked
out. It costs $15.00 per night per person, and can be booked through DOC, Whangarei. It has a coded
security lock, and DOC notify of the security code 3 days before the tramp. It has water, a large bench,
small table, stools and large verandah, but no cooking facilities.
At approximately 4 pm Lyn
Riding arrived with a French student who is presently staying with them for a year, and after a hot drink
we all visited Peach Cove (a five minute walk from the hut) – There are two parts to the Cove – a rocky
bay with a lot of kelp and no safe landing area (accessed from the track to the toilet), and a separate
sandy beach (accessed from the track to the hut) which is easily accessed by boat and on foot. Lyn had
come up from the Peach Cove Carpark on the road to Ocean Beach, which is a short-route access up and
over the range and down to Peach Cove, taking approximately 1-1.5 hours.
We enjoyed a sumptuous
dinner, after which Roger led a devotion based on the words "childlike or childish" in Scripture, as
examined in a book entitled "Paradoxy" by Tom Taylor. As part of this it was emphasised that God is
a God for all age groups, and people must put their trust in Him in the same manner - like a child –
trusting without knowing everything, sincere, uncomplicated, genuine, and loving those who love them.
After that, we begin to learn more about and experience God, but we will not know all things until we
go to be with Him, and must be content in the meantime with the revelation of Himself that He has given
to us. That does not mean we stop questioning and looking for answers, but in that process we should
not be childish – expecting our own way and stamping our foot in defiance if we do not get it. That
is where child-like faith needs still to be exercised, in trust and obedience. In this way we progress
in becoming more like Jesus (sanctification).
We turned in at approximately 8.30 pm.
We departed the hut at approximately 8.30 am, and ascended the 857 steps in 20-35 minutes, up
to the track along the main range. The weather was fine and sunny with a slight breeze. From here we
turned east (right), and before long we were ascending further steps until we reached the summit of Mount
Te Whara (476 metres). From here it is a short walk of around 100 metres to the rocky outcrop called
Te Whara, where spectacular views north and south were enjoyed. The rocky outcrop is dangerous and should
not be ascended. From here we continued down, sidling around the rear of the second rocky outcrop, and
then descending the ridge, at times on very muddy tracks, before reaching the site of the old War War
2 radar station, on the Ocean Beach side of the range, at approximately 11 am. From here there is a
wide grassy track descending to the Ocean Beach Carpark (1 hour). The tramping time from the Peach Cove
Hut to the Ocean Beach Carpark was therefore 3 ¼ - 3 ½ hours. From here we collected the party’s gear
(this was Roger and Heather’s gear, not the Club’s) and departed for Auckland. There were no injuries
or other mishaps, and everyone handled the tramp admirably.
COST: $75 - Hut Fee $15, House koha
$10, Food $10, Equipment/fuel levy $5, Vehicle petrol $35.