Pararaha weekends

At the end of last year, Gregor and I went camping a couple of times in the Pararaha Valley in the Waitakere Ranges in North East Auckland.

We had wanted to go back there and do this ever since we did the Hillary Trail a year ago but didn’t stay at that particular campground.

From Kare Kare, it’s an easy and very pleasant walk through the dunes under an endless blue sky:

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A little creek runs through the valley which makes for a very refreshing dip on a warm day. It also supplies the water for drinking (it needs to be treated though).

I just loved the Nikau palms along it which give it such a subtropical look:

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Here’s a view up the valley, with a beautiful cabbage tree and some flax in the foreground:

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We were really lucky with the weather, and it was just nice to be out and about and enjoy the scenery and the sun.

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Auckland weekend

I was up in Auckland over the weekend, the first time since April.

Gregor and I went camping in the Waitakere ranges which was really nice. When we did the Hillary Trail during the last Christmas holidays, we had passed through the Pararaha valley but not camped there, and we had wanted to come back to do that ever since.

It’s an easy two hours’ walk from the car park to the campground, through dunes dotted with wetlands. The valley itself is clad with regenerating bush, and a small creek runs along the bottom of it.

The weather was cooperative, too and it was pleasantly warm. We didn’t really do much but lying in the sun being lazy. Which was good as at home, there’s way too much for me to do to relax.

Coming back to Wellington was a bit of a shock to the system though with a Southerly blowing and a cozy 10 degrees….that’s Wellington…

 

Easter island escape

I went up to Auckland for the Easter weekend. Even with so much work to do, a long weekend at that time of the year just needs to be made use of for something other than sitting on a computer.

And there’s Gregor’s niece Julia who is currently in Auckland doing an internship and who wants to get out and explore.

So the three of us ventured out into the Hauraki gulf to spend a few days on Rangitoto and Motutapu. It’s a short ferry ride from central Auckland to get out there, and the weather was very nice. In my Wellingtonian’s view, it was a beautiful hot summer day.

We walked across Rangitoto to Motutapu and camped at Home Bay:

003 Motutapu Home Bay (400x300)004 Motutapu Home Bay am Abend (400x300)

We spent a day on Motutapu doing a loop walk around the island. Sweeping views over the island and out to the water and the city. Cows, and lots of bunkers dating back to the first world war. Fresh figs on the way, and on the campground itself, there were walnut and macadamia trees. I still have some fresh macadamias in the fridge and they are absolutely delicious.

It was a beautiful morning on the day we headed back. Sun shining, light breeze, stunning views. We stopped numerous times to take photos and enjoy the place. Here’s Gregor and Julia on one of those stops:

008 Gregor und Julia am naechsten Morgen (400x300)

Motutapu is all farmland with soft round hills, a few patches of bush here and there, and some picturesque trees. Looking back from volcanic Rangitoto, it’s almost like bucolic heaven:

013 Motutapu Causeway (400x300)

Rangitoto itself is rough and edgy. Most of the way, you have to watch every step you take on the sharp chunks of volcanic rock. There are still a few baches hidden in the bush which I thought really added to the atmosphere:

014 Islington Bay und Baches (400x300)

The walk back to the ferry was really hot, no breeze there and the black volcanic rock soaking up and radiating off the heat.

Occasionally, the bush opened up across lava fields with views across the water and towards central Auckland:

017 Rangitoto Kueste (300x400)

I’ve been to Rangitoto once before just for the day, but it’s definitely worth an extended visit, including camping on Motutapu. Make it a little island escape if you can, it’s well worth it.

Hillary Trail & encounter with an eel

Happy new year everyone!

Gregor and I did not go down South for the Christmas holidays this time, as we just didn’t want to have another holiday in the rain as had been the case the last couple of times.

Instead, I went up to Auckland, and the weather has been great. We went tramping in the Waitakeres for the first five days, where we did the Hillary Trail. The only rain we had was a light drizzle, for about half an hour over lunch right when we had hung out the tent for the dew to dry off.

But otherwise it was a pleasant mix of sun and cloud, with a much appreciated light breeze every now and then.

The Hillary trail is just half an hour by bus or train from downtown Auckland, it’s probably about the only multi-day tramp that is accessible by public transport in whole of NZ.

The Waitakeres therefore aren’t really remote, but the Hillary Trail is certainly no walk in the park. In fact, it’s got a decent number of decent sized hills which have to be climbed, and some rough and muddy spots on the way.

It’s a mix of bush, beach, views, and an opportunity for a coffee stop in Piha. With pohutukawas in bloom as an extra bonus. Here are a few photos.

Young kauri and Gregor:

002 Gregor im Kauriwald (400x300)

Myself in Piha:

006 ich am Strand von Piha (400x300)

Clifftop views with Pohutukawa in bloom:

015 Pohutukawas & Kueste (400x300)

Cutter Rock in evening light:

022 Cutter Rock im Abendlicht (400x300)

View of Windy Point:

024 Bucht und Windy Point (400x300)

Camping in Karamatura:

026 Zelten in Karamatura (400x300)

The weirdest thing actually was that I got bitten by an eel. One night I went for a dip in the creek by the campground to cool off after a hot day of tramping. Suddenly something grabbed my little toe and shook it! I jumped out of the water screaming and then felt like a fool wondering whether I had imagined this. There was some blood on my toe though, and then I saw the eel in the water. It seemed to live in some dead branches in the water, and I must have had disturbed it there.

Back at Gregor’s place, we spent the remaining week of our holiday working for our business. We’ve really dug in and worked hard, and have made the progress that we had wanted to.

On new year’s eve, we took a few hours off and went to see the Hobbit 3. Then back to work until just before midnight. It might seem crazy, but even with bits of time here and there you get stuff done. Starting a business is a journey, and every little step we take will get us there eventually. Just like doing the Hillary Trail.

Easter

Over Easter, I was up in Auckland. The weather was fantastic, all blue skies and sun, which was well deserved after the lousy summer we had.

A friend of Gregor from his days in Cambridge and who currently works in Australia had come over here for a visit. So we did a couple of trips out of the city so that he could get to see a little bit of New Zealand.

We went to Piha, a black beach with a backdrop of gorgeous green hills:

001 Piha

The coast line further up is just as nice:

002 Kueste bei Piha

We also did a trip to a park with amazing bush and drinking water storage lakes:

005 Cosseys Speichersee