Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2009. Ohinetahi Bush Labyrinth, Port Hills

I wanted to do a short, steep circular walk in the Ohinetahi Bush labyrinth below Crater Rim. I parked my car off Summit Road at the grassy carpark by Hoon Hay Scenic Reserve, including Hoon Hay Hill (490m). From the carpark, Crater Rim Walkway went northwards through Hoon Hay Scenic Reserve towards Sign of the Kiwi and southwards towards Sign of the Bellbird.

2009. Start of Watlings Track beside Hoon Hay Hill off Summit Road. Mount Bradley backdrop

From the carpark, on Watlings Track I saw Mount Bradley and Head of the Bay at the end of Lyttelton Harbour. On WATLINGS TRACK sign, a POISON LAID sign (for possum killing) was attached.

On Watlings track, past gorse, I walked down steep stone steps, and found OHINETAHI RESERVE information board, which showed a 16 track labyrinth in the crater, from Governors Bay going southwards below Mount Ada, Cass Peak and Coopers Knobs.

I passed a ribbonwood tree which had another POISON LAID sign nailed to it. Through a gap in the bush I saw Governors Bay and Banks Peninsula.

2009. Top of Watlings Track view of Governors Bay, Head of the Bay, Charteris Bay & Diamond Harbour

2009. Ohinetahi Reserve info board showing a 16 track labyrinth in the crater below Crater Rim, Port Hills

Through Ohinetahi Bush, I zigzagged down the dark, stony gully, past whiteywoods, five-fingers and ferns. On my way down I saw white, plastic poison dispensers attached to tree trunks. In places, afternoon sunlight shone through the canopy forming dappled Minotaur dreams.

In the gully, I walked down more stone steps over leaf-litter and roots, past mossy stones and old twisted trunks. Decaying branches lay beside Watlings Track. Despite steep, rocky terrain, Summit Road Society did impressive development and maintenance of tracks.

2009. Duke Street Track, Nettles & Ferns, Ohinetahi Reserve, Port Hills

2009. Duke Street Track view of Governors Bay, Mount Herbert & Mount Bradley

By WATLINGS TRACK / DUKE STREET TRACK junction my legs wobbled from braking. I had to watch out for tree nettles beside Duke Street, a narrow, stony track crossing the gully and breaking through kanuka trees to a grassy slope and open bush. A relief after dark bush in the gully.

Duke Street Track ran roughly parallel to O'Farrells Track further down Ohinetahi Bush. I had views of Governors Bay and Banks Peninsula. I passed a poison dispenser attached to a trunk, and found another poison dispenser behind the Duke Street signpost at DUKE STREET / BUSH ROAD TRACK junction.

2009. Duke Street Track view of Governors Bay, Lyttelton Harbour, Quail Island & Diamond Harbour

I could've turned left down Bush Road Track towards O'Farrells Track and explore more of the labyrinth near Governors Bay, but sticking to my plan of only turning right to escape the labyrinth, I turned right to climb Bush Road Track, and zigzagged up the ridge towards Summit Road. Along the way I passed flax, pittosporums, cabbage trees, hebes, Coprosma robusta with orange berries, and red mapou, Myrsine australis.

2009. Bush Road Track southwards view of Coopers Knobs, Port Hills

2009. Bush Road Track northwards view of Bluffs below Hoon Hay Hill, Port Hills

Sweating upwards I passed three more poison dispensers. Looking southwards through a tree gap I saw distant Coopers Knobs. Further up Bush Road Track, looking northwards through another tree gap, I saw bluffs below Hoon Hay Hill.

Higher up I looked northwards over Ohinetahi Bush to Governors Bay, The Tors, Lyttelton Harbour and Banks Peninsula. Further up, I zigzagged up a steep, rocky outcrop between northern Hoon Hay Hill and southern Mt Ada.

2009. Bush Road Track view of south-eastern Crater Rim Peaks: Mt Ada; Cass Peak; Coopers Knobs, Port Hills

On top, I turned right onto CRATER RIM WALKWAY, but looked southwards along Crater Rim towards Mt Ada, Cass Peak and Coopers Knobs, curving eastwards towards Gebbies Pass and Banks Peninsula.

2009. Bush Road Track / Crater Rim Walkway junction with south-eastern Crater Rim Peaks, Port Hills

So far I'd had tracks to myself, but along Crater Rim Walkway, a Minotaur jogged past in black shorts and T shirt, the same I'd seen on Crater Rim weeks before. By the time I reached my car I'd walked 1.5 hours. Driving away, I saw a campervan pulling into the carpark.

2009. Crater Rim Walkway view of Ohinetahi Bush below Hoon Hay Hill, Governors Bay, Lyttelton Harbour, Quail Island & Diamond Harbour

Coda: NZTV and The Weekend Press, 21-22 March 2009, reported that an armed and dangerous criminal was roaming the Port Hills from Gebbies Pass to Halswell, Governors Bay and Lyttelton during 19-20 March - on the run since 23 October. Dressed-in-black, armed- offenders cops searched Governors Bay, and armed cops stopped cars too.

My Minotaur?

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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