After a week of heavy rain the weekend cleared up in time for me to have a scenic Whangarei adventure from Urquharts Bay to Ocean Beach, with an over night stay at the cosy Peach Cove Hut. While the tracks were short- only about 3 hours each way, it wasn't necessarily an easy stroll through the park. We were welcomed with a windy paddock scramble to the start of Busby Head Track, which consisted of an hour or so of a straight up-hill stair climb. This was a slow climb for us Aucklanders as we realised we have been caught up in the rat race and perhaps we weren't as fit as we had previously impressed upon ourselves. When we eventually made it to the top we were definitely rewarded as we looked out across the heads and toward Poor Knights. I had a snack of lollies which were left over from our recent 70s party and wrapped in wax paper. The sugar was much needed and from here I bounced off along the ridgeline stopping at each clearing to gaze in awe and take photos.
Peach Cove Hut
We bumped in to two German men who had just climbed the 811 steps up from the hut, they told us how beautiful it was and said we may even see seagulls! Or maybe they meant seals as they tried to do an impression realising they had the wrong word and species. Or was it penguins... Either way we will never know as we didn't see any of these, only shags. The hut is nestled amongst the bush and a large Pohutukawa growing around a significant boulder, but close enough to two small but wild beaches.
Group dinner started early so we could cook in the natural light and go exploring for creatures in the night. The burgers consisted of homemade vegetarian patties carried in containers, lettuce, avocado, red onion, cucumber, tomato, aioli, a jar of chutney and ciabatta buns. As I was not in charge of this tramp I didn't do the shopping so couldn't be picky about packaging, but the group leader did a good job as there was only minimal plastic rubbish from the burger buns and lettuce.
Friends in the tree
After our feed we went exploring hoping to find some kiwi, unfortunately they were hiding from us and instead we found wētās and some very large spiders. I fell asleep by 9pm and slept solidly until early morning (and then some). The next day saw us climbing the rock tree by the hut and trying to name it in Maori; Rakau Rangatira Nui which means Chiefly Large Tree.
Once we had packed and tidied up it was time to set off back up the 811 steps, it was lightly drizzling at this point but this cleared 20 minutes later by the time we got to the top. The down hill from here was fairly easy and we were consistently greeted with excellent views. From the radar station it is straight down to Ocean beach along a grassy steep hill with no steps- much easier to walk down too. At the beach the few brave ones went for a quick swim, I was not one of them as I didn't want to get sick! At the carpark we had parked one of our two cars, there was a quick drive over the hill and then a quick solo drive back to pick up the rest of the group.
View of the hut from the tree
Tramping snacks- not completely waste free yet
The BF and my snacks and packaging for the trip were:
Crackers (these were purchased several months ago)- plastic rubbish
tea bags- wax paper
dried peaches- reused small plastic sandwich bag
homemade scroggin mix- reused zip bag
miso soup (purchased months ago, not consumed on the trip)- individually plastic wrapped (!!!)
On the way home we stopped in Whangarei for a late lunch, I ate vegetarian borekas at The Fat Camel, and on the drive home we drunk some of my Kombucha (toffee and mandarin flavours). Our rubbish from the trip was fairly minimal, most of it was purchased months ago or was from the group food, and the rest of it was composted- including from some of the BF's takeway. On our way to the tramp I had purchased some sushi in Whangarei using my own container (the man working there was a bit confused), I had to refuse soy sauce- why don't they have soy sauce in bottles why only individual serves?! Then left to realise that one of my pieces of sushi had a small cling wrap around its sides! Doh!
All in all it was an amazing trip with excellent company, we had good yarns about society, rubbish, plastic and oil as it was all put in to perspective when we looked out from the top of the mountain to see a beautiful harbour with a giant oil refinery perched on the sand spit.