Hemi Matenga has been on my walking list for some time, with Covid-19 Level 2 seeming like the perfect time to do this as an urban tramp. Jane and I met at Wellington station with 10+ kg tramping packs weighted with water and books, keen to explore some different local tracks.
We had an easy start at Relish Café five minutes from Waikanae station, one of the perks of urban tramping. Freshly energised, we walked about 15 mins to Tui Crescent, the start of each of the three walks in the Reserve. We went up the Pareta Track to the lookout. Starting gently beside a creek, it slowly wound its way up through beautiful bush, quickly leaving the mud behind.
At the clearing near the top, we sidled along the fence to the unused farmland adjoining the Reserve. Despite forecasts of rain, the skies were almost all blue, giving us good views at some points of Kapiti Island, the coast and local hills.
Back into the forest the vegetation changed from broad leafed trees, grass and shrubs to beech trees and moss. There was no sign to the lookout but a short path to the left took us to a clearing with a picnic table and more views over the coast.
The 521m climb down the Te Au track was notably more challenging than the Pareta Track. Going down with weighted packs was great post-Lockdown training, with the steep terrain, tree roots and mud reminiscent of a typical Tararua trip. As we left the bushland near the bottom the track eased as it adjoined a local farm for the last section down. We were treated with more coastal views until we reached the road. Another half an hour on the local roads and we were back at the café supporting local business and refuelling ourselves.
Thanks Jane for being such an awesome urban tramping buddy! More details of Hemi Matenga Reserve walks are here: https://paekakariki.nz/listings/hemi-matenga-reserve/