Palmy to Gladstone Road - three days in the sun
22 - 24 February 2022
Walking back from the Turere Spur on a Wednesday walk, we discovered a common interest in exploring the Te Araroa trail from Palmerston North to Gladstone Road. A few weeks later, having driven or bussed to Palmerston North the night before, we set off at 9.00 a.m. from the footbridge over the mighty Manawatū River. We came to a grinding halt when we met a ‘track closed’ sign and workmen not interested in letting us through, as they removed windfall trees. Nearly an hour later we were back on track, not particularly looking forward to walking through the suburbs of Palmerston North. To our delight, the city fathers (and mothers) had foreseen this problem and 20 years earlier embarked on planting a green corridor that leads out of the city. Blackberries and views; what more could we ask for? A tray with five glasses of cold water and shortbread interrupted our journey. What?? From the house, the couple responsible for the goodies came out and introduced themselves. Through the previous night’s hosts, they were expecting us and, after a chat, we had our photos taken for the purpose of promoting the green corridor. The water was welcome as it was a hot day and we needed it. That day was the day for carrying lots of water.
Quiet road walking occupied us for some time (and collecting blackberries) until we came across a nice park by the river as we headed into the hills. Rachel swam in the river. Thoughts of cold beer dominated. It was now around five o’clock and we still had three hours to go. This is when we encountered significant uphill leading us into the Gordon Kear Forest and to the Te Whare o Moturimu shelter, an inspired shelter for Te Araroa walkers. With a nearby steam and a flash loo, what more could we want? Many thanks to the Palmerston North City Council.
The next morning, after a leisurely start, we headed to the start of Burtton’s Track. Jack Burtton cleared a track into the area to enable him to have a small farm. It was good to get out of the pine forest and into proper bush, well into its recovery from logging. There was an area of mature rimu trees to be admired and another of flowering rata, as we headed to Number 1 stream. Where the river had been diverted by a slip through the bush, we walked through rushing water for about 100 metres. Any pretence of dry feet was long gone. Along the way we are passed by Alan, a Te Araroa walker we had left at a campground yesterday. Long legs and being slightly younger he headed off into the sun. Rachel and Cathy swam in an almost Olympic-size swimming hole. Late afternoon we reached the Tokomaru shelter, a comfortable residence for five. Alan had set his tent up; he wanted a quality sleep.
The last day was a nine-hour day as we headed to the Makahika Outdoor Pursuits Centre. Mostly bushwalking with kilometres of farmland and road walking to finish. At our lunch stop (with a view of the Horowhenua) we met a Te Araroa walker heading north, the only other person we saw on the trail. Covid is good for empty huts and trails. The thought of ringing for a taxi van to take us to the car sustained us, and the good weather we started with continued. At the Outdoor Pursuits Centre we found no one at home, but further on came across loads of school kids. It turned out we were seen as Covid-toxic. Eventually, a phone was found. Looking back, it was a good tramp and one that can be done using public transport. Camping by the river on the first day would be a great stop and then you would have the option of a longer second day or a four-day tramp.
[Refer to the ‘Palmerston North to Poads Road’ section of the Te Araroa trail notes for more].
- Party members
- Rachel Fry, Peter Morton, Mary Perkins, Wayne Perkins (scribe), Cathy Wylie.