Whenever I'd left my youngest son at his music lessons, Kennedys Bush Road, I drove to the end of Kennedys Bush Road to enjoy Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps views. Over the years, at the end of Kennedys Bush Road I watched Quarry Hill development, with several new roads and big houses obliterating views.
Again I drove up Kennedys Bush Road and parked at the end of Watlings Place, smothered by big houses. I walked across the only vacant plot below Watlings Place, walked below a new house, past more houses being built, and came to locked gate 1 and stile at the start of Kennedys Bush Track. By gate 1, the Crocodile Mountain Bike Track went left to Halswell Quarry. By a sheep grid, a sign with 15 lines of warnings to MTBs ended in red:
NO DOGS OR GUNS.
2009. Kennedys Bush Road housing development. Canterbury Plains & Southern Alps behind
On gate 1 a green and white sign stated:
KENNEDYS BUSH TRACK CROSSES AREAS OF
PRIVATE FARMLAND AND IS NOT A DOG EXERCISE AREA.
ALL DOGS MUST BE UNDER CONTROL AND ON A LEAD
AT ALL TIMES TO AVOID FRIGHTENING AND UNNECESSARY
STRESS ON FARM ANIMALS.
PLEASE CONSIDER AN ALTERNATIVE ROUTE AND AVOID
DOG WALKING DURING LAMBING AND CALVING
(15 AUGUST - 30 SEPTEMBER).
PLEASE KEEP TO THE MARKED TRACKS.
YOUR COOPERATION IS APPRECIATED.
2009. Reservoir near start of Kennedys Bush Track. Canterbury Plains & Southern Alps behind
I crossed the stile and walked up the steep track past a concrete reservoir, disguised by native plantings. Early days when I'd walked that way, the reservoir was two black, plastic water tanks. I passed a hill plateau which Leah and I'd climbed before.
By gate 2 (open) I passed cow pats, 3 black cows and on my right a pine windbreak and a valley full of gorse. On gate 2 was an identical green warning sign as on gate 1. On the ridge, tussock grass was interspersed with wire netting bush Corokia cotoneaster, and wide Kennedys Bush Track forked left, while an MTB track forked right.
2009. Looking southeast towards Lake Ellesmere from Kennedys Bush Track
2009. Kennedys Bush Track: Looking northwest over housing & road development on the far side of Hoon Hay Valley. See broom infestation down-valley to the left of pine trees
I looked over Hoon Hay Valley at the road and building development where I'd walked before by Worsleys Road. The development wasn't there when I'd walked some of Kennedys Bush Track years before. A male jogger wearing glasses passed me going towards Quarry Hill.
While I looked at distant "Body Bag" on Worsleys Track going up Marleys Hill, two MTBs passed me going to locked gate 3 and stile by a pine forest on our left. MTBs had to lug their bikes over all stiles. On gate 3 an identical green warning sign hung, as on gates 1 and 2. A red and white sign on a fence before the pine forest stated:
FOR PERSONAL SAFETY
Years ago on another walk, I'd slipped through the pine forest down Hoon Hay Valley, and came out by a farmhouse at the end of Hoon Hay Valley Road. Below pines, by the gate, a wooden sign stated:
SUMMIT ROAD / HALSWELL
FOOT ACCESS ONLY
ACROSS PRIVATE LAND
KEEP TO TRACK
2009. Kennedys Bush Track: Hoon Hay Valley Arboretum Project
Further along the fence a green board stated:
"THE HOON HAY VALLEY
This privately owned land is now in the process of a long-term project which will return the land to native bush.
The project will be achieved in Stages, taking over 100 years to reach the final restoration of a mature totara and matai forest to the Hoon Hay Valley.
To help this special project:
* Please keep off the land. Ecological restoration is a sensitive project easily disturbed by human intrusion.
* Please keep to ONLY these public areas:
(a) the Summit Road
(b) the Kennedys Bush Walking Track
(c) Worsleys Road
* No smoking - Fires will destroy the bush and forest."
The green sign contradicted the red and white "for personal safety" sign further along the fence. People were forbidden to be in, or smoke in, Hoon Hay Valley for 100 years. What tosh, especially the ecology dissembling! While foresters planted green garbage like Pinus radiata and wrecked Hoon Hay Valley, conservationists were appeased with totara and matai plantings. I'm sure totara and matai trees grew well without Pinus radiata for millions of years before forestry was invented.
In 100 years time I expect Hoon Hay Valley would be smothered by roads and housing, like the end of Kennedys Bush Road development. The only evidence I saw of gorse and broom eradication was earthmover scraping of "weeds" from Hoon Hay Valley rim by housing developers.
I wondered why the Arboretum Project hadn't invited people like conservationists, the public and students to admire their native plantings? I thought Kennedys Bush Track should be renamed Green Garbage Track.
Three men passed me walking towards Quarry Hill. A red 4x4 motorbike rode up to the fence with an unsmiling man shattering the peace with his forestry noise. He glared at me while I snapped his green garbage sign, turned and sped off down Hoon Hay Valley.
Along the ridge I came across two more concrete reservoirs, and by pylons and black and brown cows I encountered a Manning Intermediate school group.
2009. School on Kennedys Bush Track overlooking Canterbury Plains & Southern Alps. Gorse & Pines alongside
Manning Intermediate school kids were walking down Kennedys Bush Track from Summit Road, and I didn't find one discarded sweet wrapper or plastic junk on their trail. A boy gave me a low five as I puffed past, while his mates waited for stragglers, including two women, a Maori man and a fat girl.
I walked through pine forest on either side of Kennedys Bush Track with gorse alongside the track. A Danger sign hung on locked gate 4, the same as locked gate 3. Another green board stood by gate 4 stating the 6 Stages over 100 years of the Arboretum Project. I thought the Arboretum Project needed to clean up its act, as gorse and broom should've been cleaned out 10 years ago. Never mind pine tree green pollution.
2009. Kennedys Bush Track: Six Stages in the Hoon Hay Valley Arboretum Project
2009. Kennedys Bush Track Gorse & Pine Pollution
2009. Kennedys Bush Track Gorse & Pine Pollution overlooking Canterbury Plains
I passed two little dirty dams on my left, and in a pine clearing all I saw was masses of poroporo weed Solanum aviculare, no sign of totara nor matai trees.
2009. Kennedys Bush Track Gate & Stile & Gorse Pollution
2009. Kennedys Bush Track Gorse & Pine Pollution & Reservoir
2009. Kennedys Bush Track Gorse & Pine Pollution, Canterbury Plains & Southern Alps
After locked gate 5 and stile, I passed another concrete reservoir and left the pine forest behind. Ahead on three hillsides was more gorse. By that stage I was walking parallel to, but slightly lower than Worsleys Track by the top of Hoon Hay Valley on my left.
I walked over lilac rocks on Kennedys Bush Track, which was better maintained than deeply rutted Worsleys Track. Behind me Canterbury Plains had a thin haze below snowless Alps, with cloudless sky above Mount Hutt, Porters Pass, Torlesse Range, forever...
2009. Hoon Hay Valley Arboretum Project Board near top of Kennedys Bush Track
2009. Kennedys Bush Track Gate & Stile overlooking Hoon Hay Valley head, Marleys Hill & Sugarloaf. Gorse in foreground
Near the top of Kennedys Bush Track another green board boasted about 6 Stages of the Arboretum Project, but I'd passed masses of gorse, broom and thistles between locked gates 5 and 6. I wondered why fencers placed electrical fencing wire, to shock stock, ON TOP of each stile?
At Hoon Hay Valley head, above the pine forest, native bush had gorze on either side of the track. I saw some flax on top of a hill on my right. By Summit Road, I crossed mown grass and crossed another stile. My walk up Kennedys Bush Track had taken 2 hours with several puff and pic stops along the way.
2009. Fledgling Sparrow, Ellas Track below Mount Ada, Port Hills
Below Mount Ada (467m) I walked for five minutes along Ellas Track, and almost stomped on a fledgling sparrow, as it was well camouflaged. Must've been blown out of its nest. I thought it would die. Besides thick Ohinetahi Bush down Crater Rim, I walked past thistles, bracken and blackberries.
On a rock I late-lunched on a Big Ben Classic Steak pie, apple and CocaCola. Views over Quail Island towards Diamond Harbour and Banks Peninsula made my walk worthwhile. Returning to Summit Road, I saw several male MTBs pass, while I picked and scoffed blackberries by Ellas Track.
2009. Ellas Track view of Ohinetahi Bush, Governors Bay, Head of the Bay, Charteris Bay & Banks Peninsula
On my way down Kennedys Bush Track, two male MTBs passed. Above the pine forest, I kicked my shoes off and walked barefoot for a while. I took 1 hour 15 minutes to return to my car. As I'd forgotten my hat, the afternoon sun and reflection off white clay on Kennedys Bush Track had burnt my face.
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.