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Published: March 2nd 2010
Mini Suspension Bridge
Glynn celebrates successfully making it across the little suspension bridge at the start of the trail.
Having immensely enjoyed our day on Waiheke Island, I was keen to get out and about this weekend and make the most of the lovely summery weather while it still lasts. In the last 2 years, we've managed to explore an awful lot of Auckland's beautiful landscapes so it's getting harder to find new places to go. Looking on the map though, we noticed that we haven't really spent much time out west and so today we made our way to the Waitakere Ranges, a mountainous region covered in dense bush and rainforest. We've been there once before with Liz and Allard when we went to the Arataki Visitor's Centre and then down to Piha Beach.
It was a reasonably good drive out considering the time of day we left home - traffic heading into the city centre usually gets bad after about 10.30am on a Saturday. We left at 11.00am with our route taking us into the city first and then out west but we were at our destination in less than 45 minutes. Not bad at all.
Today we decided to walk the Montana Heritage Trail, a 4-hour moderate difficulty track looping through a population of endangered
Whereas Jude just chills out :-)
Kauri trees and endless beautiful native forest.
As we set off, glynn overheard some proper hiker types boasting that they had completed the trail in just 3 hours and 47 minutes. We duly checked our watches and wondered how long it would take us considering we're by no means experienced trampers. The route was really steep in parts and for the first hour and a half or so, we found ourselves winding higher and higher up into the mountains. I'm not very good at uphill walking and this was probaly the most strenuous hiking I've done in quite some time. I pushed on regardless and was pleased to find I didn't need to catch my breath or stop as frequently as I used to. Those Zumba classes must be paying off!
While some parts of the trail were hard work going up, there were some equally tricky sections coming down. At one point, we headed down a long steep bank by picking our way through a massive jumble of protruding tree roots. This was actually quite easy for me as the roots seemed to form little natural steps down. It wasn't quite so easy for Glynn though owing to
Excuse me, can you tell me the way to the Montana Heritage Trail?
his giant feet that didn't quite fit into those slots which ended up tripping and slipping him up instead - it must be the first time ever that having small feet is a good thing!
The bush along the trail must have been home to what sounded like a million cicadas and the wall of noise that surrounded us at times was phenomenal. Then there were pockets of the forest where the cicadas clearly didn't like to hang out and as we walked, we would suddenly find our ears almost ringing from the silence. Glynn actually thought at one point he might have gone deaf as it was such an extreme contrast! Up in the trees we also spotted tui birds with their blue-black plumage, tell-tale sing-song and little white puffballs sitting under their beaks. Roughly every 20 minutes along our walk, we would hear the familiar chirps, look up and spot a tui just ahead. It's hard to know if we saw lots of tui or whether, as I like to think, it was just one tui following our progress and watching over us :-)
After about 2.5 hours, we reached our first proper resting place with
Don;t worry Glynn, Jude has found the right path!
a bench overlooking the local resevoir. It was a pretty spot and so we took a well-earned break. If it hadn't been for the hungry mosquitoes pouncing on us almost immediately, it would have been idyllic, the calm blue waters reflecting the day's bright sunshine. From here the trail split in two and we had the choice of heading along the ridge track (which sounded like lots more hiking up and down) or following the resevoir round to a dam and then veering off to a cascading waterfall (which certainly sounded like the nicer route).
Our chosen route continued for almost an hour before reaching the turn off for the waterfall. By now though, we were both feeling the effects of climbing all those steep uphill sections and we were keen just to get back to the car. I kind of regret not taking a look at the cascades now but the waterfall isn't too far away the car park (and our finishing point) so one day I'm sure we'll come and see it without having to do the long walk round first. Checking our watches at the end of the trail, we felt quite smug to have completed
A double kauri tree calls for double trouble in the shape of Jish and his new pet dog, Rufus.
it in exactly 3.5 hours!
Both of us really enjoyed the challenge of the Montana Heritage Trail and to reward our hard work, we spent the evening at the movies watching The Wolfman - a good old fashioned style werewolf movie that I can highly recommend. A great way to round off a great day :-)
If you'd like to know more about the Montana Heritage Trail, paste this link in your browser:
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