Wednesday 25 October 2023

Te Ara Hura, Day 3 - Ups and downs. Especially downs

With thanks to Walk Waiheke for this famil 

We started our walk today at the (Waiheke-)famous row of letterboxes above the jetty at Orapiu and popped down to Mary's house for a welcome and some local history. That's one of the many nice things about this walk - the input at various places from people who live there and know the inside stories. Mary told us how Captain Cook cut kauri tree masts here, gold miners passed through en route to Coromandel, there were boarding houses for city-dwellers in long dresses with parasols, and an excellent ferry service - all gone now.

We headed along the coast and then up into the bush to the road, passing Passage Rock vineyard and the celebrated Ooh-aah view which today was somewhat muted. We paused for morning tea in the Pioneer Cemetery where we decided that Samuel Powell had an unsuitably big ego, and felt sorry for poor Anne.

We headed back down into the bush, crossing over a creek where big black eels lurked, keen for a feed. It was a long, long climb up through the bush - but with no clumpy steps to haul ourselves up, for a change (sorry, Make Tracks, you do great work, really) to the Puke o Kai picnic table at the top. In an ideal world, we would have settled here for a break to enjoy the expansive views, but the weather was blotting out the hills, and we set off straight away downhill. We had a brief Italian diversion as we passed a line of tall cypresses beside the Poderi Crisci vineyard, and then stopped to gird our loins near the Awaawaroa Ecovillage, where we finally had lunch.

Then we set off to tackle Trig Hill, plodding gamely up and up to the day's high point - which was a descent. I'd been hoping that, since the 'gentle' and 'flat' descriptions of the previous two days had not been at all accurate, the same would apply today. Er, nope. Boy, this drop was steep, and slippery, and very definitely challenging. So steep was it, that a rope had been fixed to the fenceline, for us to cling to as we slithered down the 45° slope. Honestly, the photo doesn't do it justice.

There was more clambering further down, less steep but no rope, only trees to grab hold of, and then finally we were at the bottom, congratulating ourselves. Except, further along, up (of course) a hill, word came that someone had slipped off the concrete culvert over a creek, and fallen in. Cue official concern, the one young man in the tour group conscripted for carrying duties, some quiet cursing at our being in the most inaccessible bit of the trail so far, and a long wait. But it all turned out ok, with Liz wet all over but otherwise unhurt, and so we continued the walk, down through lush bush with the odd fallen tree to negotiate.

Finally, as the sun came out again, we arrived at Batch Winery, walking up through the vines to a fabulously welcome snacky spread and a glass of rosé, sitting at long tables and all enjoying our achievement today. It sure was tough, and the climbs were steep, but we did it!

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