Showing posts with label Kahikatea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kahikatea. Show all posts

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Hoikitika Weekend:II of IV: West Coast Tree Top Walk and Lake Mahinapua

Walking in the Lake Mahinapua area, West coast...

On the way back from our trek along the Ross Water Race Walkway we stopped at the West Coast Treetop Walkway and Lake Mahinapua. Both attractions are close to each other... Lake Mahinapua is DOC land with a campsite and a number of excellent tracks from 15 minutes to six hours return.

Lake Mahinapua from the West Coast Treetop Walkway
Lake Mahinapua is also a well known boating and fishing destination. There are native fish here but also trout, perch and eels so if you are an angler it would worth checking it out. It is always heinously busy here over the summer so take that into consideration when you plan your visit.

Map: West Coast Treetop Walkway & Lake Mahinapua

The Treetop Walkway is close to Lake Mahianpua and there are views of the north-eastern end of the lake from the elevated walkway structure on the southern shore.  

West Coast Treetop Walk & Cafe

I saw some photos of the Treetop Walkway in a brochure we picked up the last time we came over to the West Coast and thought it looked a likely spot to visit. It is suspended about 50 meters above the ground at the level of the tree tops and covers a good area of lowland Kahikatea forest.

The entrance to the West coast Treetop Walkway and cafe, west coast

There is a rather fine cafe attached to the walkway, Karen and I had lunch here and the food was very good..they also sell alcohol so we had a cleansing beverage with our meal. The selection and price were surprisingly good...$18 for a delicious steak sandwich, $15 for whitebait an open chicken foccacia was $12.... 

You can also check out the gift shop attached to the cafe...they had the usual tourist type of goods as this location gets a lot of international visitors over the summer.

The West Coast Treetop Walkway: the cafe and gift shoppe

The walkway is a reached via a short walk along a gravel is only a couple of hundred meters but if you are LAZY or cannot walk that far up hill there is a shuttle which will drop you at the start and collect you from the finish.

Safety message at the West Coast Treetop Walkway

West Coast Treetop Walkway: start of the road to the walk

Climbing to start of the West Coast Treetop Walkway

West Coast Treetop Walkway: the walkway is in old growth forest

The old growth forest starts right from the edge of the road...there are some big podocarp trees right next to the road and there are interpretive panels which describe the plants types you find in this sort of forest. There are a lot of typical bush plants here...ferns, supplejack, kawakawa but also Rimu, Kahikatea, Totora and Miro trees. 

There are interpretive panels along the West Coast Treetop Walkway

After a five minute stroll you will arrive at the elevated metal structure which makes up the walkway. It is about 50 meters off the ground...roughly at tree top level. The structure is very kid friendly as there are safety barriers any place a child could fall and the rail is at adult chest height.

I'm sure you could fall off here if you REALLY tried but you would have to put a lot of effort into the idiocy.

Start of the actual West Coast Treetop Walkway

Climbing onto the West Coast Treetop Walkway structure

People who know me will know that this is not my cup of tea at all...I get vertigo so I do not like heights all that much. This structure was fine as you are almost enclosed in a cage but I never felt 100% comfortable while I was walking around. There is just no way in hell you would ever get me on one of those glass floored towers or walkways...niet....nope...ungh ungh...NO....aint gonna do it!!!!

That said I still soldiered on and walked around all of the walkway and I even climbed the 70 meter high tower at the center. The views of the surrounding forest and lake edge made it worth the effort.

Kahikatea forest around the West Coast Treetop Walkway

The West Coast Treetop Walkway is 40 meters above the ground..

The land around here is swampy with lots of small creeks and streams so the predominant tree type is Kahikatea as they love those conditions. The under-story is mostly young Kahikatea trees but there are also a few Rimu and Totora trees scattered through the forest. Some of the trees are 50 odd meters high and a couple of meters around the trunk. Kahikatea trees are long lived..most of these would be 300-400 years old but some of the massive Rimu and Totora trees in the area could be +500 years old. 

The forest stretches out to the horizon especially when looking south...all you can see is the top of Kahikatea trees.

Walking along the West Coast Treetop Walkway

Distant view of Lake Mahinapua from the West Coast Treetop Walkway

It is a bit odd to see the top of a massive tree at your own height...disconcerting but also fascinating as this is a view you so rarely see in nature. There is a surprising amount of life at the top of a tree...epiphytes, vines, birds and insects. The only other way to see this view would be to climb the trees or view them from a likely placed cliff or bluff. 

Closer view of Lake Mahinapua, West Coast Treetop Walkway

Lake Mahinapua is off to the north east of the Treetop get the odd glimpse of it as you walk around but for the best view you really need to climb the central tower. From the top you can see a goodly portion of the lake, it is blanketed from forest right the way around the lake and see the forest starts right from the shoreline.

Lake Mahinapua from the 70 meter high tower, West Coast Treetop Walkway

Distant Southern alps from the West Coast Treetop Walkway

Interpretive panels on the West Coast Treetop Walkway tower

You get a good over-view of the whole walkway from the tower so make sure you take the plunge and climb up the spiral staircase to the viewing platform. 

Looking down on the West Coast Treetop Walkway fro the viewing tower

Johnnies Stream passes under the West Coast Treetop Walkway

The only place I did not climb was out onto the viewing platform that is closest to Lake Mahinapua...Karen went out and took a panoramic photo but that was a step to far for me so I stayed on the main part of the walkway. 

Montage from the end of viewing platform, West Coast Treetop Walkway

50 meter high Kahikatea trees, West Coast Treetop Walkway

Here we are horsing around taking simultaneous photos of each other out on the Lake Mahinapua viewpoint of the Treetop Walkway. We are a couple of Joe's.........but I love her for it...

...Jon photographs Karen, West Coast Treetop Walkway...

...while Karen photographs Jon, West Coast Treetop Walkway...

It took us about 30 minutes to walk right the way around the walkway and climb the central tower....I thought it was a well spent $32 dollars which is how much it costs for an adult to enter the reserve. I believe this is the only elevated walkway in New Zealand...I have certainly never seen another in this country although I have been on walkways like this in Australia. 

The northern end of the West Coast Treetop Walkway, West Coast

Walking back down the road to the cafe, West Coast Treetop Walkway

The return trip is back down the access road which eventually deposits you outside the cafe/gift shop and entrance at the end of your walk. It was a lovely we stroll back down the hill in the late afternoon sun.

West Coast Treetop Walkway: view from access road..

Heading down to the West Coast Treetop Walkway cafe

Park like setting at entrance to West Coast Treetop Walkway

No name stream passes through West Coast Treetop Walkway entrance

I really enjoyed the West Coast Treetop Walkway...I know $32 seems like a lot to pay but I actually think it is worth the price as it gives you an unusual view of life in the treetops of one of our most ancient forests. 

Lake Mahinapua, West Coast

On the way back to Hokitika we stopped at Lake Mahinapua about 5 km's from the West Coast Treetop Walkway. To access the lake turn off State Highway 6 onto Shanghai Road and follow the DOC signs to the car-park and campground. 

Lake Mahinapua is a well used is boat friendly and has some spotty but generally good fishing spots. It also has some short tracks and longer trails in the general area. There is a DOC campground at Lake Mahinapua which can be quite busy over the summer holidays and when boating events are held on the lake. 

The silver surfer parked at the Lake Mahinapua car-park

Karen and I went for a walk along the waterfront and had a gander at the lake...there is a dock in front of the local yacht club so we walked down and had a look. Apart from the area around the car park the lake is completely enclosed in native forest so it is very picturesque.

The lake would be about four kilometers long and two kilometers at its widest point. 

View out over Lake Mahinapua from near the car park

The boat dock at Lake Mahinapua, Hokitika

When Karen and I were down on the dock we watched a crazy swallow performing a variety of tricks and swoops around us. He was diving down and rushing under the dock beams at a great rate of knots, back flips, hovers, flight reversals and I'm sure I even saw a couple of Immelmann rolls.....

It was an example of exquisite flying ability and a case of totally showing off in equal measure...very entertaining!!!

Lake Mahinapua Yacht club-rooms in the background.....

View towards the coastal end of Lake Mahinapua

There are fish in this lake..some small natives but also eels, trout and perch which tend to be the fish type you are going to catch here. I would think that you would need to fish from a boat as the margins of the lake are thick with reeds and what looked almost like wild rice. There is a website that details this kind of angling

View along the length of Lake Mahinapua from the dock

The road from Hokitika to Haast did not exist until well into the 20th century, the sections that did exist were rough, muddy in rainy weather and extremely unpleasant to use. 

Instead the local population used a complicated water transport network based around the rivers,  lakes and swamps in this area. There were dray roads to near Lake Mahinapua from there people took to the water on a series of paddle steamers and shallow draught boats.

Historic paddle steamer at Lake Mahinapua

There is an example of one of these paddle steamers at Lake Mahinapua..the hull is a replica as all of the historic hulls are long gone. The machinery and fittings are original...they were removed from an old hulk abandoned on one of the lakes further south towards Haast. 

Interpretive panel on the paddle steamer at Lake Mahinapua

...some of the mechanical details of the Lake Mahinapua paddle steamer...

These paddle steamers would have transport men, animals and stores to the various timber and mining camps in the region. They would have been busy as there was a constant ebb and flow of people along the West Coast as new extractive industries opened and then closed when the resources were exhausted. 

Karen checking out the Lake Mahinapua paddle steamer

It is worth taking the time to have a look at the area around the is quite beautiful just bring some insect repellent because there will be sand flies here outside of winter.

The Bellbird Walk, Lake Mahinapua

There are a number of excellent walks at the Lake Mahinapua Reserve which range in distance from 15 minutes to 6 hours. These include the Swimmers Beach Walk (one hour return), Jum Michel (30 minutes return via the access road) and the Mananui Tramline Track (5-6 hours return).

Map: Lake Mahinapua track network

We had already walked two tracks that day so we went with the shortest of the tracks, the Bellbird Walk. 

Start of the Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua

The Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua is 10 minutes
The Bellbird Walk is a lovely little ten minute track through a small remnant of podocarp forest with a small lake at its center. The track is clearly marked and starts about 100 meters away from the Lake Mahinapua is locate on the far side of the camp ground so just walk over to the campground and look for the sign.

Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua: easy pathway to follow

Podocarp forest at the Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua

Jon walking along the Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua

The bush is particularly thick along the track and consists of classic podocarp forest with some big examples of Kahikatea, Rimu, Totora and other species. the under-story is also dense and there are a profusion of ferns, Punga and epiphytes (plants that live on other plants) scattered along the track.

There was also a lot of bird life in the reserve including Bellbirds, Fantails, Silvereyes, Tui, Keruru and ducks. 

Lots of ferns along the Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua

Mature grove of Punga, Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua

The track quality is very good it looked like it had recently had some work done on could easily push an outdoor style buggy around here. There is a small section of boardwalk half way round the track over a bit of a bog/swamp area.

Epiphytes growing on trees, Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua

There are some massive ancient trees along the first leg of the track and the under growth is thick as you can only really get on the warm, wet West Coast. It is thick with many variety of ferns and the trees are covered with epiphytes and vines from climbing plants...

More epiphytes...Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua

Boardwalk over swamp in the Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua

Part of the homeward leg of the track looks like an old dray road as it is about 15 feet wide, leveled and has drainage ditches along the side. This lake was part of the inland waterway transportation system used to get people south to the gold workings at Ross, Whataroa, Haast etc.

The system had dray roads, small paddle steamers on the lakes and shallow draught boats on the swamps and rivers and formed a near continuous route along the coastal hinterland. You could still follow the course of the old water route in a canoe as the portage sites still exist. 

It would be an interesting and historic trip.....

Old dray road...Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua

Karen on the dray road at Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua

There is a small no name lake in the center of the looks a bit like a kettle lake or possibly it is an ox bow as this is the down stream-seaward end of the lake where it empties into a nearby swamp. This little lake may have been cut off when the swamp dried out a bit and a dry land bridge was gradually colonized by plants. 

There are no clear views of the lake which seems kind of odd...the bush has grown right up to the shoreline and obscured the view. DOC or the local council should build a view point at one end so visitors can see what the lake looks like. 

The lake at the centre of the Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua

The end of the Bellbird Walk at Lake Mahinapua

You should go have a look if you are ever in the area...while this walk is short it is very picturesque and well worth the ten minutes it takes to stroll along the track. If you wanted something a bit meatier go for a walk along one of the longer tracks. 

Access: Both the West Coast Treetop Walkway and Lake Mahinapua are located off SH 6 approximately 10-12 km's south of Hokitika. The Treetop Walkway is on Woodstock Road...follow the sign from SH 6. Lake Mahinapua is accessed via Shanghai Road about 1 km north of Ruatapu settlement.
Track Times: The West Coast Treetop Walkway takes 30-40 minutes to walk, with a five minute walk to the start and finish from the nearby cafe. Bellbird Walk is a 10-15 minute circuit from the car park at Lake Mahinapua.
Miscellaneous: The Treetop Walkway costs $32 per adult, $16 per child but there are other payment options. There is a very fine cafe located at the walkway with a la carte and cabinet food and a gift shop. Both walks can be done in running style shoes no boots required. Toilets available at both locations.

Around Hokitika...

We stopped in Hokitika on the way back to our accommodation and went for a walk along the seawall near the river mouth. If you are ever in Hokitika go have a look as this is the location of the famous Hokitika drift wood sign. 

The famous Hokitika driftwood sign on the beach front

View from the Hokitika seawall pathway

Rock cairn at the Hokitika seawall walkway...

We were staying in a cabin owned by a hippie-ish couple just north of Hokitika at Kaihinu. Like most Coasters they had a plethora of jobs to keep them in health and well as a factory making mats and tiles from the local beach rocks they also had a reflexology clinic and 3-4 eco-accommodation options around their property.

The holiday home was small but efficiently built and was powered by solar was a very nice place. They also had a very friendly dog who came around to visit a couple of times a day....

Our Hokitika eco-accommodation near Kaihinu, West Coast

Holiday accommodation at Kaihinu north of Hokitika....

The beach in front of the property was lovely and very remote feeling, Karen and I went for a walk up the beach in between the rain showers we got each evening. The sun set over the beach as night came on was particularly beautiful...we enjoyed staying there. 

Walking along the beach in front of our accommodation, at Kaihinu north of Hokitika

Sun sets over the Tasman Sea, on the beach at Kaihinu north of Hokitika

Sadly we were in Hokitika the same week that a 14 year old girl got swept out to could feel a palpable sadness everywhere in the town.

Very, very sad for her whanau but at least they eventually recovered her body.