A stroll in the bush

Monday 15 June 2015 – Auckland, New Zealand.

I have been in New Zealand for three days and have pretty much had no sleep since arriving. A combination of strange beds – three nights and three different beds, and trying to sleep when I should be getting up for work has not been helped by my failure to sleep easily. So I am tired.

I have had a good couple of days so far, I have completed all the shopping I need to do, cuddled my grandson and seen all of my Auckland based family and some of my friends. It feels like I haven’t stopped, but in reality it has all been a fairly static trip so far. I was going to go for mountain bike ride on Saturday morning but the weather conspired against us, today was going to be a trail run but Vicki, who I was to run with, had a monster race over the weekend so we decided to make it a walk instead. It suited me, as I said before I was tired.

The original idea was to run up Mt Pirongia in the Waikato, a spectacular run/walk that I have not done, but seeing as we were not going run it seemed a bit silly to get up before dawn to drive for a couple of hours just to walk. We decided to head to an old favourite, Piha – where there is good coffee as well as good trails.

Piha is not my favourite beach on Auckland’s west coast, it is a close second to Karekare. However, Piha was one of my favourite places to trail run. Wonderful trails with awesome views and the bonus of a great cafe where turning up looking for coffee covered in mud and smelling a bit was not overly frowned upon.

Disappointing as it was, with hindsight, walking rather than running was a good idea. I have hardly run in weeks and Vicki has been knocking out fast paced ultra-marathons like they are going out of business. There was no way I would have survived a run like Pirongia. Walking meant we could natter for longer – including up the many climbs, and nattering is something we do best on our runs.

We had decided on a nice loop from the end of Glen Esk Rd, that captures all the good things about this section of the Waitakeres – a nice stream, kauri trees, some views and some glorious twisty, rooty single track.

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Kauri die-back is a serious issue for the Waitakere Ranges – as well as other areas of native forest in the north of New Zealand. Kauri Dieback is caused by a fungus like disease that is killing kauri trees, it was only discovered in 2008. It is a spore that that gets into the roots of the tree, spreading up and eventually killing the tree, trees of all ages are affected and it is thought to be spread by animals, birds and humans. There are numerous spray stations around the park.

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Like a lot of the waterways in the park in the early 19th century the Piha stream was dammed and then used to float kauri logs down to logging mills on the coast. The remains of some of the dams can still be found in various locations.

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We headed up Centennial track from Piha Valley track.

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There are still a couple of fun sections on the trail, yet to be made day tripper friendly…

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With a rewarding view down the valley.

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Vicki had been telling me about the work the council had been doing on ‘maintaining’ some of the tracks, especially those on the Hillary Trail, the 85km long section of trails made famous by Sir Ed Hillary. This basically means widening the trail, removing anything remotely challenging and then covering the track in gravel, – thus removing half the fun of bush walking, but making the trails easier for those who don’t want to get dirty I guess. On the Forbes Trail it was pleasing to see they had not been every where !

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Our final trail was the Maungaroa Ridge track, one of my favourite trails.

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It is a great running trail, especially going anti-clockwise as there is more downhill, there are also some really nice kauri sections and it was lovely to see they are all still standing.

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There is a look out just off to the side of the trail before it drops back down to Glen Esk Rd and back where we started.

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And back over where we had just walked.

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The Piha Cafe was closed due to a power outage, which was a real bummer, so Vicki and I headed back into Titirangi for a late lunch in one of the many cafes there.

It was a really nice day out, great to catch up with Vicki and share each others news and solve all of life’s issues.