After making it off Rangitoto Island and back to Auckland City, a quick bite to eat and off we set again, this time headed for the Waitakare Ranges. We had been up here investigating a few months ago after being in Auckland to see “The Pink Floyd Experience” but weather was not looking flash that day and we decided it was best to just head on home and come back another time.
The sign at the entrance to the track gives indication that it is approx 1hr walk to the summit. We can laugh now, however discovered this is far from the case. The walk to the summit which is totally surrounded in track and bush in every direction and definitely no picture perfect views. The walk in parts reminded us of the track up Mt Pirongia not far from home….not clear in places and boggy mud, ridges to climb up and down etc, though Pirongia is far better marked out than this hike into the bush. I think we saw about two maybe three reflective markers along the way all up. The track appears as if it is not maintained and tree’s in places were across the track, however I would say we were never in danger of walking off the track. It would be pretty safe to say not many people use the track at all and after a walk earlier in the day being a tourist hotspot it was quite a contrast. We started to wonder about 1.5hrs in if we had bitten off more than we bargained for….. answer yes! Though we kept on to the summit. Be aware some of the tracks are closed to prevent disease spread, and there is a boot wash at the start of the track to clean your boots from disease that is affecting the Kauri trees. The track to the summit fortunately is open (for now).
We discovered there was a second entrance into the track, only 15 minutes walk after the first entrance. This newly discovered entrance has the advantage of being able to park near it without having to walk down the side of the road. We needed a GPS to find the summit, and were happy to just be in the top contour line without exploring for the true summit. In SOTA as long as you are within 25 vertical meters of the summit (unbroken by a saddle) then you are in the activation zone. In New Zealand our topo maps use 20 metre contour lines so using the top contour line is a good way to ensure you are in the activation zone.
There is no clearing at the summit so the dipole was stretched out between two tree branches. For VHF I used the half wave aerial extended onto my walking stick. Daylight was ticking so we had to go quick to get our contacts and run. Unfortunately we did not have time to activate on 14 MHz. Sorry VK. We did get 6 contacts before hastily packing up and speed walking back only just beating dusk.
Summit – ZL1/AK-004 Te Toiokawharu
Height – 474 mASL
Access – Off Piha Rd, left onto Old Kauri Rd. The track entrance is only a few hundred meters down the road on the left.
Nominal time to summit – 2 hour walk to summit.
Mobile and internet coverage from the summit – 3g coverage on Spark and Vodafone network.
Summit Marker – None – GPS required.
Land Access Permission – Not required.