Galbraith Gully – Takapu Road (M)
30 April 2011
The Hutt Valley’s western hill suburbs feature numerous areas of native bush close to SH2 and the railway line. Galbraith Gully, off Korokoro Road, a ten-minute walk from Petone Station, is a good example. Once you enter the beautiful forest, the noise of traffic on SH2 is a mere memory.
The stream which flows down the gully, originally called Te Tuara-whati-o-Te Mana, and later ‘Edmond’s Stream’, enters the harbour in a culvert just west of Petone Wharf. Syd said that the gully was once to be the site of a landfill, but citizen-power saved it. A few years ago Hutt City Council felled, and flew out by helicopter, numerous large pines on the central spur, and Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) began poisoning possums in the valley. In February, Kate Malcolm, a Korokoro resident, led 50 people from the Environmental Risk Management Authority, who raked up twelve infestations of tradescantia, including on steep faces requiring the use of ropes. We saw the results of their efforts - several ‘depots’ of large, black, plastic bags full of the invasive weed, now decomposing anaerobically.
Half an hour from the start of the gully, we emerged at the tiny Te Whiti Grove park, then started on ‘Bulldozer Track’, off George Gee Drive. Soon we descended the steep ‘Jagger Short-cut’, named after Peter Jagger, the club member who died last year. Numerous kohekohe trees were in bud, their flower-stalks growing from their trunks and branches. At the top flood-detention dam, we saw the Barberry Grove, Maungaraki, end of the new track that will lead to George Gee Drive, and will be benched, on a gentle gradient, bypassing the ‘Jagger Short-cut’.
Next we began tramping up the beautiful stream towards Holdaway Scenic Reserve. Several big pukatea, many nīkau, and forest flourishing as a result of GWRC’s possum-poisoning, help to make this a gem of a valley. At a forks, where a true left tributary enters the main stem, we saw, above the canopy, a pipe-bridge – an indicator that about 10 minutes up the main stream, a tiny, true right tributary enters it. Here, a pink square on a nīkau indicates the point to go up the tributary, to find the public access strip to Camellia Tce, between nos. 18b and 20.
We took snickets from Acacia Ave to Reese Jones Gr and Cherry Blossom Gr, then entered Belmont Regional Park at Oakleigh St, and sat having scroggin, in the sun, on a knob overlooking Korokoro Valley’s bush-clad slopes rising towards Belmont. Chris had done some pruning to make the original track down to Korokoro Dam passable, but we agreed that it would be too slippery, so used the walkway instead.
We lunched at Baked Beans Bend, then crossed the true right branch of Korokoro Stream, and climbed steeply on a possum-control line to the sidle route to the top of the 12-m waterfall. This route was marked by Peter Jagger with plastic lids tied to trees with robust tape. The steep-sided gully, rising c. 300 m to Horokiwi Road, is lovely – many nīkau, including lots of young ones, thanks to possum control, some pukatea, numerous ferns, and a small creek with several falls and chutes.
Well up the gully, as Marianne was ducking under a māhoe growing out from the bank, a rock (“larger than a human head”, said Syd), fell on her calf, knocking her snow-gaiter down, and causing a long, deep, cut across her right calf. We covered the wound with a sanitary pad, held in place with the crepe bandage from the TTC first-aid kit, and checked for shock. Marianne was in good spirits. We quickly decided that the quickest way to get cellphone reception was to continue up the gully, clearing a passage for her through fallen nīkau fronds and branches. Within half an hour, after several attempts, Susan was able to speak to David Castle, who promptly drove from Aro Valley, and arrived to meet us, minutes after we had reached the road. Hutt Hospital’s A and E assessed Marianne’s injury, and on Sunday 1 May, she had plastic surgery and was home the following day. Special thanks to the TTC people who run the gear room, David Castle for his ‘medivac’ role, and the staff at Hutt Hospital. CH
- Party members
- Susan Guscott. Chris Horne (leader and scribe), Marianne Jenner, Syd Moore, Helena Weller-Chew.