On Saturday 16th April the alarm went off at 5 am. In darkness we drove to meet the team at Wellington train station at 6 am for the train to Waikanae. Here we met fellow trampers Jared, Mike and team leader Garth. Unfortunately, one member of the team slept through the alarm so our group was down to five.
Once we hopped off the train it was a smooth transition to the taxi where we were taken to the start of our tramp at Waikanae river bridge. We set off at 7.30 am, the air was cool and crisp and the skies were clear. We soon warmed up with a fairly steep climb at the start through beautiful pine forest. The climb continued for about 7 km with an ascent of approx 670 meters. From the summit point there was a small clearing and we could see as far as the Kapiti coast to the west and the Southern Crossing to the east.
We met barely anybody else on the track, except for a few rogue goats. The path continued to twist and turn through mossy forest from the Pukeatua summit towards Otaki Forks. Lunch was a sunny and very relaxed affair, we were making good time and so enjoyed a 30 minute break in the grass clearings just above Otaki Forks with great views across the river terraces (see below).
From here the long and steep descent from the ridge line towards Otaki Forks, which was a bit of a ghost town apart from an abandoned car. We soon caught on this was due to the recent landslip preventing any cars getting through. After a 3 km flat section along the road in to Otaki Forks we met the start of the diversion track. This started with a steady climb up a track. We were expecting something a bit more tricky but after 800 m we soon arrived at a sudden diversion off this track up a steep, muddy slope with a rope to pull yourself up with. After a climb of 300 m we arrived at a clearing before descending down a fairly steep logging track, which played havoc on Garth’s feet, due to his troublesome walking boots (he even resorted to walking backwards at times).
We were then met at shields flat historic reserve car park by Richard, his wife and dog Gizmo, who kindly picked us up at 3 pm for the return trip back to Wellington. All in all a great day’s tramp of about 7.5 hours that we would highly recommend.