Breaking Free of Lockdown

When Prime Minister Jacinda Adern announced the country’s move to Level 2 effective 14 May 2020, I was poised over my laptop to organize a trip. I had very much been missing my tramping outings during lockdown. I sent out a desperate plea to a handful of recent tramping companions to come on a day trip with me, and five awesome friends answered.

We took a route (highly recommended and well-informed by Marie) up the Gollans Stream in East Harbour Regional Park.

Golans Stream
Our route up the Gollans Stream (from Matt’s GPS)

After some car-shuffling, we took the Kowhai Track up and down to Butterfly Creek Picnic Area. There was a lot of talk about how people had coped with lockdown and how exciting it was to be out in the bush with our tramping buddies again. There was also mention of holding an impromptu Committee meeting given 5 of the 6 punters were Committee members.

From Butterfly Creek, we followed a bait line up the Gollan’s Stream, occasionally criss-crossing it, falling off it and finding it again. For those of us who hadn’t done any walking on rough terrain, it felt like learning to walk again!

About halfway along we also came across a fantastic playground known as “Camp Fenrir” with two swings and a fireplace. There was a “safe” swing (which was quite low to the ground) and an “exciting” swing (which swung out over the creek). Juan’s scream let us know he had jumped on the “exciting” swing straight away, without realizing just how exciting it was!

Gollans Stream
Matt at Camp Fenrir. Photo Credit: Aimee
Gollans Stream
Tereza has a go on the ‘exciting’ swing. Photo credit: Aimee

At Top Forks, where the creek splits into two below Lowry Peak, I confused everyone by walking around in circles looking for the “Top Forks” sign (which I had seen on previous visits to the Top Forks). I couldn’t find said sign, but we did find the actual convergence, and the subsequent bait line leading up to Lowry Peak. However, being unable to find the sign was rather bamboozling, and I decided that during Lockdown my brain must have disintegrated further.

Gollans Stream
Some of the nice terrain in Gollans Stream. Photo credit: Aimee

Tereza set a cracking pace up to Lowry Peak. About 10 minutes before the top, we came across a “junction” of sorts, with the square pink markers leading in a more northerly direction and a pink ribbon leading in a more easterly direction. Thanks to Matt and Tony who did some serious work with their compasses, we choose the “right” route and continued on up to Lowry Peak.

From there it was an amble onto the Main Ridge Track and down the Ferry Road Track to Days Bay. The first house you can see after emerging from the track has a beautiful big tui mural on it.

Gollans Stream
Enjoying the late afternoon sun on the way down (while still being socially distant). Photo credit: Aimee

Matt and I retrieved the Kowhai Street car and then we all had a socially distant hot drink at the Days Bay Pavilion. While 14 km of sort-of off track walking was a rude wake-up for my thighs, it felt great to be out in the wilderness again, and with a bit of luck, these day trips will continue!

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