Eastbourne hills M
Wednesday 9 March
The six-hour circuit under native bush canopy in the hills behind Eastbourne started with an easy climb up the now locally-maintained Muritai Park Track. There was little breeze, the sun shone, and the group’s vibrant chatter was accompanied by kārearea, titipounamu and pīwakawaka. From the top, we followed the well-marked Bus Barn–Point Howard ridge route for forty-five minutes, climbing over Hawtrey before turning off to follow the route down Middle Ridge. A few who had not seen the giant rātā lingered to admire its age and girth before we stopped at a harbour-viewpoint clearing for morning tea. Blackberries, gathered after the previous week’s Wednesday tramp, topped a messy but delicious home-baked slice, harnessed by paper napkins. As we travelled further down, the abundance of Earina autumnalis, a species of orchid endemic to New Zealand, was intoxicating in its full-flowering state. A brief stop at Stan Hunt’s Hut, built in 1975, ensued before we continued further and split into two groups. Three people went down Middle Ridge to Butterfly Creek to bag picnic tables for lunch and the rest diverted off the ridge to descend steeply into Butterfly Creek. A secluded 1970s Eastbourne Forest Rangers’ hut, now housing civil emergency equipment, provided some intrigue before we came out onto the valley section of McKenzie Track and walked the wide pathway to join the others at the picnic tables. After lunch, we followed the track to the top of Kōwhai Street where we turned onto the route crossing through QEII covenant land of George Gibbs (Ghosts of Gondwana). After a couple of brief diversions, we came out at the top of the Muritai Park Track. An easy descent down Muritai Park Track or Kārearea Track took us back to our cars. Three people took to the beach for a cool swim in a glassy harbour and one then biked home to Wellington.
- Party members
- Jane-Pyar Mautner (leader and scribe)