Sunday, February 22, 2009

2009. Ellas Track, Port Hills

2009. Southwards view of Mount Ada & Ellas Track off Summit Road, Port Hills, Christchurch

2009. Northwards view of Ohinetahi Bush, Marleys Hill & Hoon Hay Hill seen from Ellas Track

2009. Blackberry Picking on Ellas Track with Mount Bradley backdrop

I parked my car off Summit Road by a silver, 4WD Subaru Legacy, near the top of Kennedys Bush Track, overlooking Mount Ada. I wanted to walk the figure 8 Ellas Track to Sign of the Bellbird and back. A lone women clad in black shorts and T shirt walked off Ellas Track towards Kennedys Bush Track, while swigging h2go from a sippertop plastic bottle.

2009. Ellas Track view over Governors Bay & Quail Island in Lyttelton Harbour. Algal bloom in the sea

2009. Ellas Track Boozers on skyline overlooking Lyttelton Harbour

I passed thistles, blackberries and bracken, and would find those weeds alongside the whole of Ellas Track, as well as gorse and broom patches. On a rocky spur on the skyline below Mount Ada three blokes were boozing beer from brown bottles, while admiring Lyttelton Harbour views. Bet they didn't return their empties to their Subaru.

As it had heavily rained the day before, Ellas Track was muddy and slippery. Storm clouds created a dappled effect on Lyttelton Harbour waters.

2009. Ellas Track / Totara Log Track junction with cloudy Mount Bradley backdrop

2009. Northwards view of Mount Ada from Ellas Track

Through native bush, I carefully walked down old stone steps. After native bush, Totara Log Track forked off Ellas Track. I hadn't seen any totara trees along the track - must've been completely logged out by old foresters. On the TOTARA LOG TRACK wooden sign a black and white skull and crossbones sign was stapled:


A useless sign, as it didn't state what poison was used. Was it poison to kill Aussie possums? Kill ferrets? Kill rabbits? Or what? At the Ellas Track figure 8 junction an orange painted wooden board stated:


2009. Southwards view of Cass Peak & Coopers Knobs from Ellas Track

Two more wooden signs pointing in opposite directions stated ELLAS TRACK. I continued through native bush along Ellas Track below Crater Rim till I came across Sign of the Bellbird carpark by Summit Road.

A bridal party of five cars was busy taking photos with spectacular views of Mount Ada, Cass Peak, Lyttelton Harbour and Banks Peninsula. Across Summit Road a wooden sign stated:


2009. Kennedys Bush & Sign of the Bellbird Signs by Summit Road

Another skull and crossbones POISON LAID sign was stapled to the bottom of the wooden signboard. I explored Sign of the Bellbird area where Harry Ell had built his first resthouse for Edwardian walkers in 1906. On the ruined Sign of the Bellbird building a bottom stone had 1914 carved on it, like the 1914 carving on a Sign of the Kiwi stone further along Summit Road.

2009. Black Cloud over Kennedys Bush & Canterbury Plains seen from Sign of the Bellbird

Inside the Sign of the Bellbird building illicit fires had blackened the concrete floor, stone walls and ceiling. A "No Fires" sign was attached to one wall. A piss smell too. While a low, black cloud hung over Kennedys Bush and Canterbury Plains, I snapped Canterbury Plains, then read an information board beside a black, leather-clad motorbiker.

2009. Sign of the Bellbird Information Board

2009. Bride & Groom in the Mist below Cass Peak by Sign of the Bellbird

2009. Misty Mount Ada near Sign of the Bellbird

2009. Totara Tree on Ellas Track above Sign of the Bellbird below misty Cass Peak

Back on Summit Road, I snapped the bride in the mist below Cass Peak, and watched mist rise from Governors Bay up Mount Ada and Cass Peak. Ellas Track on Mount Ada eastern side was covered in mist, so I returned to my car via Crater Rim Walkway (Ellas Track) north-western route around Mount Ada, above Summit Road.

Along the way, I passed two lone totara trees, hebes and five-fingers, amongst gorse, broom and foxgloves in native bush and grassland. In parts I walked over red tuff. While I scoffed blackberries a male jogger passed me. Below me, I saw two men at the end of Kennedys Bush Track walking towards the head of Hoon Hay Valley and Marleys Hill.

2009. Marleys Hill, Sugarloaf & Hoon Hay Hill seen from Ellas Track

Back at my car the Subaru was still parked alongside, and the three boozing blokes were still on the skyline below Mount Ada, two hours after I'd begun dawdling Ellas Track.

2009. Late afternoon view of Lyttelton Harbour seen from Ellas Track, Port Hills

Three weeks later Leah and I walked Ellas Track. Someone had widened the track by hacking out gorse, bracken and blackberries. Leah enjoyed blackberry-picking remaining bushes.

2009. Ellas Track junction, middle of figure 8, Port Hills, Christchurch

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont

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