Whiorau/Lowry Bay – Waiu Park – Hayward Scenic Reserve
12 September 2009
This trip began a week after the NZ Geographic Board announced that Whiorau/Lowry Bay is to be the official name for Lowry Bay, as part of the Treaty of Waitangi Settlement Place Names agreement. Whiorau, often shortened to whio, means blue duck; rau means one hundred. Imagine the suburban valley once being whio habitat!
From the bus stop, we walked along Cheviot Rd and to the end of Whiorau Grove. Here, between nos. 5A and 7, is an entrance to East Harbour Regional Park. Up stream we went, past tall hard beech trees, and continued up to a shallow basin on the true right. After a short climb, we reached the spur that is easy travel to the Ridge Track. We saw deer pellets, browse on hen and chickens fern and several possum traps and rat bait stations placed by Greater Wellington Regional Council. Whiteheads/pōpokotea sang cheerily in the canopy as we tramped south to Pūriri Track, and part-way down it to have scroggin, undeterred by fine drizzle.
We descended through beech forest to kānuka forest, and then to Wainuiomata Rd and Parkway. From here, we crossed Parkway Playground to Waiu Park and Spoon Hill Track. Waiu means milk, relevant to the area once being a dairy farm, then the site of a dairy factory. The park was formerly, confusingly, called Gracefield Scrub, and later Towai Park. The track goes up a long, often flat spur, first through kānuka, with occasional māhoe wao/narrow-leaved māhoe, then beech and regenerating forest, to Pylon 28, and the NZED road along the eastern Hutt hills. Here, on the west side, Julia spotted masses of white clematis/puawānanga in full bloom on mānuka. We noted how the vegetation on the south-facing, thus wetter slopes of gullies was covered in young native forest, while the north-facing, thus drier slopes, were covered in gorse. From the road, we scrambled up a bank into native forest with many ferns under a closed canopy for lunch, with the sun trying to drive the cloud and drizzle away. Here began our south-north traverse of Towai 348 m, passing on the way the decommissioned concrete cabinet and mast of a telecommunications facility 30 m south of the trig. Despite low cloud, we saw some of the Hutt Valley, then walked along the cleared route once used for building the trig and facility. Back on the NZED road, we climbed to a Telecom facility at the top of a spur leading down to the former Griffins factory. Here we got better views and spotted Julia’s house in Normandale, before tramping northeast to the top of Hayward Scenic Reserve’s Kōnini Saddle Track. Immediately, we were in regenerating native forest, descending to Dry Gully Zigzag, a lovely narrow track featuring maidenhair fern, many nīkau, and an abandoned bird’s nest, exquisitely woven from grasses and sedges.
Then, with 30 minutes to catch the train, we took Hayward Track and Lomaria Track to Whites Line East, Waiwhetu. We saw several kōwhai in golden bloom, crossed a playground to Godley St, passed flats to Waiwhetu Rd, then went along Rodney St to climb the over-bridge above Awamutu Stream, to Woburn Station, arriving just before the train and 5.5 hours after we began the M-grade trip.
We thank Barbara Mitcalfe for help with the recce, GWRC for a park brochure, Hutt News for a map of Waiu Park and HCC staff for advice and a map.
- Party members
- Julia Fraser, Ken Fraser, Chris Horne (leader/scribe), Syd Moore, Michael Pitt.