Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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Another Club weekend away - but instead of going as far as the Kaimai Ranges, Rotorua or Tongariro, how about somewhere in Auckland? A total of 25 people, including a large number of children, had a wonderful time away in the Waitakere Ranges, home to many a Club day trip but still makes for a nice weekend away.

The following options were offered:
Day tramp from Cascades to Auckland Tramping Club (ATC) Hut on Anawhata Rd (Saturday)
Shorter walks at Cascades and Anawhata (Saturday)
Overnight at the ATC Hut
Day tramp from ATC Hut to Piha (Sunday)
Shorter walks to Piha and Kitekite Falls (Sunday)

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Base map extracted from NZ TopoOnline May 2006. Crown Copyright Reserved.

We left The Bracken at 8am and met at the Cascades car park at 9am. Those who chose the shorter walks - mainly the families with children - set off to do the Auckland City Walk while the rest, including a number of people who would be returning home to Auckland afterwards, set out on the longer day tramp.

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From the Cascades car park we crossed a bridge then began to climb up the Upper Kauri Track, a well-formed track. Setting out about the same time as us and doing this track was a group of Rangers (senior girl guides) - they would be tramping the easier Ridge Road Track to overnight at the Alpine Sports Club hut close to the ATC hut while we would be taking the more challenging Sisam and RGB tracks.
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We reached Smythe Corner and began to stray down Long Road Track before eventually finding the start of the Sisam Track.
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A sign at the start of Sisam Track warned that the track was for experienced trampers only. This rougher track began to descend gradually, then drop more steeply to reach the Anawhata Stream. There were some tricky stretches as we followed the stream a short distance - one of us almost slipped into the water.
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The Chateau Mosquito Track was a steep climb up from the stream, levelling out at the top and becoming a wide track. Our lunch stop was at the junction of this track and the RGB Track.
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The RGB Track, apparently named before the advent of the RGB system of defining colours, was again a rough track, dropping steeply with many slippery sections thanks to recent rains, to cross the Pig Wallow Stream close to a beautiful little waterfall.
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We climbed steeply up the other side to level out and rejoin the Ridge Road Track not far from the Auckland University Tramping Club (AUTC) Hut, a welcome afternoon tea stop. The hut continues a decades-old tradition of being decked out with signage taken from all over the place, and even sports a letter box outside its entrance.

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The hour-long walk from the AUTC hut to the ATC hut was along a wide vehicle track, muddy in places but a welcome contrast from the tricky tracks we had just been over.

We arrived at the ATC hut about 3:45pm to be welcomed by the children who had done some walks at Anawhata after doing the Auckland City Walk. Those sorry souls who had to leave us to go home did so after a quick look at the hut; the rest of us settled in. The hut consisted of a large common room with bunks at both ends, plus a kitchen area and fireplace and a separate bathroom equipped with two handbasins. Outside in the bush were two separate toilet blocks.

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The children were playing, both running around and sitting down with a pack of cards.
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A yummy dinner of sausages, rice and vegies was served up, followed by a dessert of cheesecake and instant pud.
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Nelson gave a brief talk on desolation and restoration, commenting that when the European pioneers arrived in the 19th century, they milled the big trees of the Waitakere Ranges for timber leaving a sense of desolation, but now the bush is beginning to come back. Likewise we need to be restored - our lives are ruined with sin and evil thoughts, and we need to recognise that God can restore us. Jesus Christ can restore us (John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:24) if we exercise our faith and accept Him (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:22). Nelson cited the story of Joel who had suffered a plague of insects, and was restored by God the years he had lost. Joel 2:28 contains the promise that God will pour out His spirit, the old men shall have dreams and the young people visions, and whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
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Afterwards, as the sun went down, we enjoyed a game of catchphrase around the table. We took turns, in two teams, of guessing a word that would show up on the catchphrase; the electronic game, which was being passed around, had a 2-minute timer that would beep at an increasingly faster rate, and when the timer stops the team who had the catchphrase in their hands would score a point.
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Heads were on wentilillos as early as 9:15pm; there was no power and no television to watch the Crusaders thrash the Bulls.

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Base map extracted from NZ TopoOnline May 2006. Crown Copyright Reserved.

During the winter months, it is always good to get heads off wentilillos before the sun comes up - we were all up before 7am. The first head to de-wentilillo was of course the Blue Bush Shirt with the famous cupsofteaserology to start the day. We enjoyed a breakfast of porridge or cornflakes with tinned peaches plus toast - and the remains of last night’s dessert as there were no sparrows outside the hut to eat the leftovers. Then it was time to prepare our lunches. Afterwards, what better time for a group photo?

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The seven grown-ups who would do the long tramp were ready to go at 9am; the others including all the children would clean up the hut before going to Piha to do some shorter walks.The longer trip began with a visit to the McElwain lookout with an all-round panorama of the Waitakere Ranges, a sea of native bush, plus the Tasman Sea and Piha, and in the distance to the north, Muriwai.
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We then dropped down via Quarry Track to Centennial Track and followed it as it gradually went down into the Piha Valley. At the start of the Centennial Track we came across some of the Ranger girl guides we had seen the previous day.
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At the bottom we crossed the Piha Stream at the site of the old Black Rock Dam, where there are one or two remnants.
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The track climbed steeply to join the Home Track, which we followed along the top of the ridge.
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We dropped down to the Glen Esk Stream via Winstone Track before taking the Connect Track to the base of the spectacular Kitekite Falls and a welcome break.
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The Kitekite Track was a well-formed level bush path leading to the carpark at the end of Glen Esk Rd. We were out by about midday and enjoyed lunch in a grassed area nearby, with the whirr of minibikes or gokarts from the nearby Stedfast Park in the distance.
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The easier group arrived from their walks at Piha to take the harder group back to their cars back at the ATC Hut. The children played on a large tree stump before being taken to see the Kitekite Falls. Those who did the harder tramp were back in Auckland before 3pm.
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COST: $25-50 ($10-50 travel; food $10; accommodation $5) - variants: food $6 and accommodation $3-50 for children; transport of drivers to pick up cars at Cascades after Saturday tramp $1-10.