3 – 4 December.
The van left Pukahu just before 7 and picked up Paula shortly afterwards with all seats then filled. We had stops at both Dannevirke and Shannon and arrived at our destination, the Hemi Matenga Scenic Reserve behind Waikanae about 10:30 . Eight of the group set off up the Parata Track heading for the lookout, a 370 metre climb. Peter met the hares returning back down the track, they thought the high point 468 was the lookout. However they were encouraged to retrace their steps and carry on another 300 metres through a saddle to the real lookout. The lookout gives a great view of the coast and Kapiti Island and it was agreed that the back track was well worth while. Meanwhile the remaining 4 were content to walk the low level Kohekohe track. The Hemi Matenga reserve is part of one of the largest remaining kohekohe forest in New Zealand and this forest is very different to what we see in Hawkes Bay. Kohekohe, Olearia, Pukatea and Nikau abound there.
About 12:45 everyone was ready to carry on to Paekakariki where the Escarpment track was the goal for 7 of the party. This track involves the climbing up of many hundreds of steps along an escarpment above the Kapiti coast. At the top there is an area and a few seats to rest on before the descent down to Pukerua Bay and another many hundreds of steps plus a couple of swing bridges. While they were sweating the way up the steps the others went to the Paekakariki Holiday camp to sign in and unload our gear. The camp is on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Regional Park, and we spent a couple of hours walking through a part of it. This park could do with better mapping and better signage however we spent an enjoyable time taking in coastal views, swamp land and grassy tracks before returning to the camp. Whilst out there we had a number of texts and calls from our party up the escarpment as one member found her hips objected to the steps and was returning back down and would walk to the camp.
About 5 oclock we headed off in the van to get the others from Pukerua Bay and by about 5.30 all were retrieved and we were back at camp. For dinner that night we headed to a great Turkish restaurant at Paraparaumu Beach joined by 2 family members. All were amazed how the manager, there on his own, managed to remember all 14 orders correctly without writing anything down.
Sunday morning 9 AM we were back again at Paraparumu Beach, had a biosecurity check and hopped on a boat with 18 other visitors. Half way across the 5 km stretch to Kapiti the boat’s engine started playing up and we had a bit of a wallow while they decided whether or not to continue to the island. They continued on and after a great introductory talk by a guide doing her first talk on her own we were let loose.
Seven decided to go to the top via the Trig Track and return down the Wilkinson Track while the remaining five started off walking along the tracks at the bottom, four making it up to the Hihi feeding station half way up the Wilkinson Track. The weather was overcast so the view at the top wasn’t that great but all enjoyed themselves. Birds seen included Saddlebacks, Hihi, Kaka, Kokako, Weka, Takahe, Kakariki as well as most of the bush birds we see in Hawkes Bay.
At 3.30 it was time to return back to Paraparaumu Beach, on a different much faster boat. Then it was time to head home stopping at Dannevirke for dinner and arriving at Pukahu a bit after 8.
Party: Greg S, Simon W, Paula K, Anthea C, Anne D, Colin J, Nic W, Penny I, Brent H, Carol C, Peter B & Glenda H