Walk in the Park

Friday dawned warmer; it was already 11 degrees at 7.30am. The weather was the usual mixture of clear and cloudy. We decided to walk around the neighbouring bay; the other half of Maitai Bay. We set off at 10.30am with a couple of muesli bars and some scroggin; not sure how far we would go. Heading around the bay we encountered three others doing the same thing. At the far end of the bay, they were looking for the track to take them up to a trip point. There was a very cryptic DOC (Department of Confusion) sign with two orange triangles nailed to a post. One triangle pointed straight up in the air, the other pointed up the creek. I remembered some information that mentioned a track up a creek but couldn’t remember what it said about the trig. We were keen for a view. We chose the creek track for no particular reason. The other three headed off around the headland. Our creek route was well marked but rather overgrown. We kept giving it another 10 minutes to shape up. We emerged onto an area of open clay with no vegetation, and could see we were approaching a ridge. We also had a great view back down the valley and across Maitai Bay. We were soon at the ridge, and another lovely ambiguous DOC sign, advising we could go up the ridge to the trig on Parawanui, and “Return via Ridge”. Whether that meant this ridge or the ridge down the other side is anyone’s guess. The track at this point was very interesting, steep greasy clay with no steps or footholds. Progress was by hanging onto the surrounding vegetation and pulling up. It got easier as the slope eased back and it wasn’t far to the top. We heard the other three below us; they must have given up on their route and followed us up the creek. We never knew why as they must have turned back at the ambiguous sign – perhaps put off by the greasy clay climb. At the top we found the trig had been demolished; cut down or uprooted and pushed over into the scrub. There’s a bit of a thing going on with trigs in these parts. We sat on the east side of the ridge overlooking steep cliffs dropping into the Pacific Ocean to enjoy our muesli bar lunch. In the sun and sheltered from the wind we could be excused for thinking that this was summer; it was lovely and warm. It was a fabulous viewpoint. There was a track cut down a ridge on the other side, so we decided to take our chances with it; keen to avoid going back down the greasy clay track. Weirdly the track cutting gave up as the gorse got thicker and we had to give up on the idea of coming back down via that ridge. We had to climb back to the top again and retrace our steps down the greasy track. Then it was back around the bay and back to our bay which was more sheltered from the north west breeze. I’d been muttering about a mid-winter swim, without any action. And this was the end of July, but July is July. We were warmed up from a few hours of walking, so this was the afternoon and time to do it – it was still 14 degrees. So at about 4pm on a lovely afternoon on a lovely beach we stripped off and had a dip. It was a quick dip – no swimming but not a run-in-run-out swim either. It was a fitting end to a great day.

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