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Published: October 11th 2007
Waitenguae Trail Head
To the west of Tauranga is a mountain range that runs north and south. Multiple hikes (tramps) are easily accessible by car within 30 minutes. Access to the trails (treks) from the east are near the towns of Katikati and Wahi. Ben and I did an overnight tramp on a predominantly overcast weekend. The first day was a trek that wound back and forth across the Waitengaue Stream. The start of the trail crossed a stream on a suspended wire bridge that holds chain linked fence in a V-shape lined with 2 x 10 boards to walk on. It has a sign stating that it is rated for a maximum of two people. Ben would not let me cross with him. That was our last luxurious crossing until the end of the day. The trail then proceeded straight in the bush, up and down hills, and unfortunately through lots of mud this time of year. The bush was fairly dense. We might be walking next to the stream, but usually could not see it until we were about to cross it. I lost count on the number of times we crossed that stream, sometimes picking over the rocks, but usually we
Dad, don't even think about it!
waded in ankle to knee deep water. On one section, we knew that the trail criss-crossed several times in a short distance. Ben put on his sandals, and I put on my crocs. I found the trail fatiguing and not unlike an Arkansas mountain trail, except no ticks, no biting insects, no snakes, and NO poison ivy. Those big fern branches slapped me in the face and I did not care. It was very wet with mud, even on the hills. Some times the mud sucked the crocs off my feet. We saw one spider, because it bit Ben, and a walking stick about an inch long. About two hours in, a side trail led further up the mountain to Ananui Falls. We made it to an overlook, but because of the dense foliage, we could not see the entire length of the falls to the pool. It is another two hours of walking to the base of the falls and back. Because of our late start, (and because I was already tired), we went on our way. There are only a few places that you could stop and pitch a tent easily on this trail. Just before dark we
Hiking Boots off, Sandals on. Water Cold.
reached our destination for the night, Waitawheta Hut. The Department of Conservation (DOC), manages the trail system and wildlife conservation. They have a series of huts along many of the trails for shelter. Most are very basic with a roof and a few bunks. I am told that occasionally they come with wild life, such as opossums and rats. Our shelter for the night was Taj MaHut, a three room 26 bunk accommodation, with a Ranger’s quarters and an out door toilet (loo). Muddy and tired and just wanting to sit for a while, we were met by bubbly Ranger Stephanie. She had been researching the history of the site which was used for a saw mill in the 20’s. New Zealand was once covered by the majestic Kauri trees which grow up to 200 ft and can live well over 1000 years. Only about 4 % of the original land now has Kauri growing. They grow straight and were prized for there use for ship building. Long washed away, there was once a train (tram line) that crossed the various rivers and streams to this site. Temporary dams where built and then tripped to float those giant trees down
stream to the saw mill. That had to have been an awesome site.
We cleaned up, and Ben donned his chief hat. He whipped up dinner on our borrowed camp stove (Billy). Our meal was basic, but did not weigh much in the pack. Only six other people were in the hut that evening including Ranger Stephanie, and visiting Ranger Alison who was on her honey moon. Stephanie’s father was visiting her and they dined on steaks and wine. Jealous? No, I was too tired to digest red meat. After dinner, Stephanie took us all on a short walk. Carrying flashlights (torches), we walked to an overhanging embankment to view the famous glow worm. Glow worms are actually flies that suspend a silk thread covered in luminescent mucous. This helps them attract prey and the opposite sex. Stephanie told us that the luminescent material was poo (poop). If you make too much noise or shine your torch directly at them, they turn their poo off. Interesting, yes? Think of the possibilities on Halloween if you had luminescent poo available. More is to come on this subject later as we plan to visit the famous glow worm caves later this
Near end of day one.
year. I told Ranger S about our fire flies at home. She said that we had way cooler insects in the states. I disagree. Glowing POO!
The next morning, Ben fired up the Billy and cooked up some tasty oatmeal for breakfast. We inspected the saw mill and packed out along the Waitawheta River trail. This is a wider trek that mostly follows the old tram line that serviced the saw mill. There are six river crossings and a few crossings over tributaries. At one time, one of the crossings was a huge Kauri suspended 20 - 30 ft over the river. One end broke, but the tree still crossed at a forty degree angle. Underneath was a deep pool to protect you in case of a fall. Ben went up biped. I took the quadraped approach. Prior to our river crossings for the day, we met three ladies on a day walk, ranging in age from 50 to 70. They made all six crossings and did not seem worse for the wear, although a little snippy to each other. I just assumed that they were related. This trail is the easiest one out and the shortest, about four
hours. I enjoyed this trail more than the previous day, because we followed and could see the river most of the way. All in all, over the two days we saw a good variation of the terrain of the Kaimai Forest.
Tot: 1.11s; Tpl: 0.075s; cc: 12; qc: 61; dbt: 0.0515s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb