Showing posts with label North Canterbury. Show all posts
Showing posts with label North Canterbury. Show all posts

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway: 18th July 2020

A wet day trip in Kaikoura...

Karen and I went for a short weekend getaway to Kaikoura last weekend...we spent three days in the area doing the tourist thing, walking part of the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway and soaking in the local flavor. 

The main street through Kaikoura in North Canterbury

Kaikoura is a small coastal town about 180 km's north of Christchurch renown for its Whale Watching expeditions, and Albatross and Dolphin encounters. It has an extensive and interesting coastline with seal colonies, great diving and a number of excellent tramping tracks in the local area. Unfortunately it is also known for the devastating 7.6 earthquake that hit this area back in 2016 which it is still recovering from.  

Fur Seal resting on the boardwalk at Point Kean, Kaikoura

We decided on the second day of our trip to go for a walk along the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway...this is a cliff top excursion from the seal colony at Point Kean to South Bay on the southern side of the peninsula. We stopped and had a look at the seals lounging at Point Kean and also ventured out onto the mudstone reef that lies off that point of land. 

The extensive mudstone reef at Point Kean

Point Kean is a tidal the tides around here!!!

The weather was not was cold, windy and drizzling so not ideal for a walk. We did not mange to finish the whole walkway (we only got to the half way mark) but it was still interesting nonetheless. Surprisingly we were not the only idiots out walking in the rain...we passed a number of people along the walkway who were also out for a day trip.

Kaikoura from a viewpoint on the Kaikoura Peninsula

Despite the weather we enjoyed our stay at Kaikoura...Karen and I have been here three times in the last two years but there is always something new and interesting to do. Anyway why don't we have a look at the section of the Walkway we managed to finish. 

On the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway:

The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is a 2.2 km long clifftop track from Point Kean on the northern side of the Peninsula to South Bay on the southern side. It is approximately 1-1.5 hours one way, 2-3 hours return. The track starts at the mudstone reef and seal colony at Point Kean...there is a large car-park here and toilets.

More Fur Seals at Point Kean, Kaikoura Peninsula

The start of the track is on the southern (uphill) side of the Point Kean car-park and has a map and sign post for the Walkway. The first section is sealed up to a series of observation platforms which look out to the north of Kaikoura and down to the reef at Point Kean. This section is steep but once you are on the top the rest of the track is relatively flat so don't be put off.

Start of the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway, Point Kean

DOC map of the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
Kaikoura Peninsula juts out into the ocean so it can be windy and cold up here so make sure you have appropriate gear for the conditions. Always take a waterproof jacket and a warm top with you even on a warm sunny day.

Map: Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway, Kaikoura

We did not have a warm sunny day so it was damn cold once we got to the top of the first track section. We also had intermittent drizzle falling so both Karen and I were wearing warm clothes and jackets.

Karen climbing the rise on the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway at Point Kean

The views get better the higher you climb and the ones from the viewing platforms are really spectacular. Point Kean reef stretches far out into the sea and is a major hazard to ships going up and down the coast. Since the 2016 earthquake it is much larger as sections of the Kaikoura coast rose by as much as 3-4 meters. Areas that were once under water are now well above the high tide mark.

Point Kean car-park, Kaikoura Peninsula...note the reef...

...the start of the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is sealed...

Kaikoura Peninsula sits right on the fault line which bisects the South Island so it has always been an area of up thrust action. The peninsula was once ocean bed that has been slowly rising over the millennia to its current height. Some of these were violent thrusts...there are a number of major up thrust areas dating from various massive earthquakes millions of years ago right up to 2016.

Information board about the genesis of the Kaikoura Peninsula

The reef at Point Kean, Kaikoura Peninsula
There is a lot of sea-life around Kaikoura as there is a 3 km deep subduction trench a couple of kilometers off shore. The cold deep water is excellent habitat for fish species including krill which attract Seals, Giant Squid, Sperm Whales, Blue Whales, Humpback Whales, Southern Wright Whales, Orca & Dolphins. That is why Kaikoura Whale Watch is located here. 

This is also a major seabird area with Shearwaters, Albatross and various gulls making their home in the area. 

...deep water about a kilometer off Point Kean, Kaikoura Peninsula...

The track is sealed from the viewing platforms to Peninsula lighthouse after that it is a grass track until you get to a point above the seal colony at East Head. There are stunning views from the track...out to sea, down to the coastline about 150 meters below and north & south along the coast.

The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway heads south from Point Kean

Kaikoura Peninsula lighthouse, Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

This was problematic as it had been raining up here for more than a week. The track had turned into a mushy mess of mud, grass and cow manure as several cattle were loose on the track. It made for slippery going as there are a series of small rises along the walkway and there was no traction even in tramping boots.

Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway: the walkway is grass...

We headed along the Walkway nonetheless and after a short while we found ourselves at the viewing area for the first bay along the coast. There is a bench seat and an information panel here which explains how the Peninsula was totally covered in thick native bush when Europeans arrived in the was cut for timber or burnt off to allow farming.

DOC information board on the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

The first bay visible along the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

Kaikoura Walkway have their own design of track marker..they are large poles with a Koru design around the top. This whole area was heavily utilised by Maori due the abundant seafood along the coast...Kaikoura literally means food-crayfish which are one of the delicacies you can gather here. Archaeologists have found the remains of the ten Maori Pa (fortified village) sites on the peninsula.

Local track marker on the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

Karen and I were looking at the awesome scenery so it took us a couple of minutes to realise that the dark dots we could see down on the coastal rock shelves were Fur Seals. Literally hundreds of Seals...every shelf, rock and point above the tide line had seals on them. There were also a number of seals swimming in the waters of the shallow bay as well.

Seal colony near Point Kean from the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

You can climb down to this bay on a steep track a bit further along the walkway or you can walk around the coast to this bay at low tide from Point Kean. Even with the earthquake uplift there are still places where the track is submerged at high tide.

If you visit the colony stay at least 10 meters away from the seals as they are territorial and vicious...they are surprising fast on land and they WILL chase after you. 

Seal colony resting on low tide rock shelf, Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway...

A closer view of some of the Kaikoura Peninsula seals...
The track skirts along the top of the cliffs for awhile...stay away from the edge as there are a series of bluffs along here not really visible from the track. It was very muddy and slippery here but half way around the bay the track turns to crushed rock so it was easier walking.

...a very muddy Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway after recent rain...

View to East Head from the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
As we got closer to East Head we could see down the coast to Spy Glass Point at Oaro. This is where where SH1 heads over the Hundalee Range to Canterbury. It was murky as there were rain squalls up and down the coast around Kaikoura. 

There is a pathway along here which allows you to go down to the Seal would be difficult to climb back up so only go down if the tides will allow you to walk back around to Point Kean.

View south down the Kaikoura Coastline, Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway: at East Head on the Kaikoura Peninsula

We decided to turn about and walk back to the car when we got to East Head as it was starting to rain and we could see the track deteriorated back into the muddy grass at the start of the walk. We were at the halfway point anyway...just about exactly 1 kilometer from Point Kean so it was a good place to turn around. 

Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway: heading back to Point Kean
We headed back along the clifftop track as I wasn't 100% sure we would get back walking past the seal colony at the foot of the escarpment. It was more difficult walking back to the car-park as the slope of the walkway tends downwards and it was very slippery with the rain showers and mud. We ended up walking most of the way back to the sealed track on the grass verges. 

A different view of the Kaikoura Peninsula lighthouse

The tide had come in a bit while we were walking as the reef at Point Kean had started to submerge in places. We got a decent view up the coast from near one of the viewing platforms...we actually had a murky view of the snow covered Seaward Kaikoura Range to the north of us. 

View north along the Kaikoura Coastline

Native planting along the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

It was good to get back onto the sealed part of the track...I would recommend that you don't attempt to walk this track if it has been raining due to the mud. It is safe enough when wet but just really unpleasant. This Walkway would be awesome on a nice sunny Summers day..with the views of the ocean and the cool wind coming off the water. 

Descending to the Point Kean car park, Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

View down to Armers Beach from the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

I am heading up to Nelson Lakes NP at the beginning of August so I think I will stop off here and walk the rest of the track from the South Bay track end. It should only take about an hour return from there so it would be an achievable walking distance. I have been up to the top of the terrace at the start of the southern end of the walkway and the track surface is crushed rock so it should be a nicer track to walk even if there has been some rain. 

The Southern terminus of the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway at South Bay

If you do not want to follow the same track back to Point Kean there is another section of the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway which links South Bay and Kaikoura town center. This track joins South Bay Parade and Scarborough Street which means you can do a loop of the peninsula. I have walked over this track before and it is steep on both sides and takes about 50 minutes (3.9 kilometers) one way.

I would recommend that you tramp this section first and then do the cliff top section as the cliff section is easier at the end of a long walk. It takes about 50 minutes to walk from Kaikoura to Point Kean so you would be looking at a 12 km, 3-4 hour circuit.

I may just leave it for our next visit or plan a base weekend in Kaikoura and walk a couple of tracks. Either way I will be back to finish the walkway in the near future.

Watch this space....

Access: Kaikoura is approximately 150 km's north of Christchurch on SH1 the main north-south highway. From Kaikoura follow the signs to the Seal Colony along the Esplanade, Avoca Road and Fyffe Quay to get to Point Kean.
Track Times: Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is 2.2 kms from Point Kean to South Bay, 1-1.5 hours one way. You can return via the same track or there is another track from South Bay Parade to Scarborough Street in Kaikoura. See the information above. 
Miscellaneous:The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is a mixture of sealed track, grass track and crushed stone track.The grass sections will be muddy and slippery after rain.  It is over an exposed headland so be prepared for cold, wet and windy conditions at any time of the year. there are toilets at Point Kean and South Bay termini but none on the Walkway itself. 

To be continued....

Friday, 9 August 2019

Short Walk: Forest Journey, Hanmer Forest Park, July 2019

Sashay through Hanmer Forest Park on the Forest Journey

As part of our visit to Hanmer Forest Park Karen and I also went for a walk in the forest plantation along Jollies Pass Road. This plantation consists of groves of various species of trees the NZFS trialed for planting in New Zealand.

Macrocarpa trees, Hanmer Forest Park

There is a wide variety of tree types from Willow, Adlers, Cypress, Macrocarpa, Firs and Spruce, the Larch!, the Pine!, the Giant Redwood Tree!, the Sequoia!...

"...Ohhhhh....I'm a lumber jack and I'm o.k. I sleep all night and I work all day...
I cut down trees,
I eat my lunch, 
I go to the lavatreeeee,
On Wednesdays I go shoppin,
And have buttered scones for teaaaaaa....."

Me and my best girlie....and the choir of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

Errrrr pardon me....just about every type of commercial forestry tree is included, they are all mature so it makes for a quiet, fragrant and intensely green experience. 

Hanmer Forest Park....walking past a grove of Cypress trees on the Forest Journey

We were walking on the Forest Journey, the longest of the myriad tracks through the forest, it is about 1.5 to 2 hours for the full track.

Hanmer Forest Park:the main entrance on Jollies Pass Road

There are a number of car-parks outside the old Ranger HQ, there are also toilets and a water point at this location. There are also several large maps of the surrounding forest showing the various short, day and multi-day tramps you can do in the area.

Hanmer Forest Park: the map outside the old Rangers HQ

Map: Hanmer forest Park.....tracks in the local area

This used to be the HQ for the forest back when this was a part of the New Zealand Forestry Service (NZFS), it has now been converted into the local scout building. There was a large group of MTB riders loading up their bikes when we arrived back after walking through the forest. 

The old NZFS Rangers HQ directly opposite the entrance to Hanmer forest Park

The forest was turned over to Ngai Tahu as a part of their historic Waitangi Treaty Settlement and is being utilised as a working forest. They have a new forest HQ a bit further down Jollies Pass Road.

Going for a walk in the woods...

We started out from the entrance on Jollies Pass road, this is the main entrance for all of the walking and MTB tracks in this part of the forest. It is directly opposite the old Rangers HQ and is well signposted so there is little chance of getting lost. 

Entrance to Hanmer Forest Park, Jollies Pass Road

Hanmer Forest Park: heading along he first track section

There are a number of interpretive panels through the forest covering points of interest, types of trees planted here, historical notes etc. The plantation used to be a working forestry but it is now covenanted as a historic place so this part of the forest cannot be felled without some serious legal battles.

There are a series of interpretive panels scattered through Hanmer Forest Park

The tracks are wide and clear in Hanmer Forest Park

There is a Forest Art Collection in this part of the park, various object d'arte carved from wood and located through the forest. They are all really good I just wish I had the kind of wood working skills exhibited by the artists.

My woodworking skills are notoriously bad I made a table at High School that was a total disaster and have kept it these past 30 odd years to encourage me to avoid working in wood.

Have a look at the bottom of this post for more on these carvings...

There are a number of forest art object scattered through Hanmer forest Park

Another of the forest object d'arte, Bald Eagle, Hanmer forest Park

Generally the track was dry and easy to walk over but because of the heavy rain and snow recently sections were a bit muddy. The whole track could do with a good dump of gravel to make it more weather resistant but that is unlikely now it has passed into Matariki Forestry hands.

Some sections of track are muddy in Hanmer forest Park

Junction of Forest Amble and Forest Walk tracks, Hanmer forest Park

There are many different types of trees in the forest all planted back in the early 1900's to see which type best suited New Zealand conditions. For a long time it looked like Douglas Fir was the best but in the end they settled on Pinus Radiata as it meet all the criteria of wood volume, timber hardness, growth period and climatic resistance. 

Most exotic plantations in New Zealand are now planted with Pinus Radiata trees, the majority of which is turned into paper pulp or export logs.

Interpretive panel laying out tree types, Hanmer forest Park

There are a couple of small bridges on the track they cross over a series of drainage ditches through the forest, I think the natural tendency of this land would be to the swampy but the trees have limited this now.

Hanmer Forest Park: there are some small bridges to cross

Hanmer Forest Park: Forest Journey track branches off Forest Walk

One of the old forestry roads now MTB tracks, Hanmer forest Park

The tracks use both dedicated walker only tracks and some of the many forestry roads that criss-cross the plantation. There were very few people out and about on this cold day but we did see about 4-5 people running, biking and walking through the forest.

Start of the Forest Journey Track, Hanmer forest Park

Karen on the Forest Journey Track, Hanmer Forest Park

There are a few clearings in the forest, they were once areas for log storage, vehicle storage or housed workers buildings. A couple of them have been turned into picnic areas (marked on maps) with tables and seats and some of the others have panels setting out what used to reside there.

Hanmer Forest Park: a clearing, previously location of a workers smoko shelter

Plenty of signage in Hanmer forest Park

Forest Journey, Hanmer Forest Park using an old road as part of the track

Here is a photo of the first of the picnic areas we encountered, it would be a nice spot to stop for lunch during the summer, the sand flies are not too bad in this exotic forest. You can see the interpretive panels in the near distance, they tell you that this was once a store yard for timber and had a forestry workers office. 

That is a Sequoia tree growing near those signs, it is over 20 years since it was planted which shows you how slowly those trees grow...

First of two rest areas, Hanmer Forest Park: note the panels and Sequoia Tree

Just past the picnic area you skirt what was obviously once a bog, it is low laying and swampy looking but with no visible water. I would imagine it fills when they get a good down pour in the area. 

The track skirts forest bog, Hanmer forest Park

Tunnel effect from fully mature pines, Hanmer Forest Park

One of the interesting areas you pass through is a grove of Macrocarpa being grown as a commercial species. Most Kiwis will be used to stunted and twisted Macrocarpa hedges along farm boundaries...these trees are not like that. They are about 30 odd meters tall and ruler straight as they have cut all the lower branches off as they matured.  

The Forest Journey goes into a Macrocarpa grove

Macrocarpa Trees line a  forest road, Hanmer Forest Park

They were planted like everything else as a trial some time in 1929 but were never commercially planted as they are very slow growing trees. The wood is dense so it is excellent for firewood, framing and furniture but not so good for paper manufacture which is what most timber in New Zealand is used for. 

Macrocarpa panel on Forest Journey, Hanmer forest Park

Old and huge Macrocarpa trees, Hanmer Forest Park

I believe Macrocarpa is a major forestry type in both Australia and the United States, they are certainly striking looking trees when grown in this fashion. 

Taking a break on the Forest Journey track

We stopped at the second picnic area along the track just past the Macrocarpa grove, this is approximately 2/3's of the way around the Forest Journey. There are a couple of picnic tables in a very nice grove of mixed Cypress trees planted some time in the 1970's.

Second rest area in Hanmer Forest Park

Karen brought a flask of tea with her so we stopped for a 20 minute repast of tea, cheese and crackers and muesli bars. It was most pleasant sitting among the swaying trees talking and enjoying a tasty brew....nice!!!

A sumptuous feast for morning tea, Hanmer forest Park

If you have read some of the other trip reports on this blog you will know that muesli bars are not my thing (I abhor desiccated coconut....yuck!!!) but these ones were o.k. I am not a convert but I would be willing to try some more flavors in the future...

Jon even eats a muesli bar.....ercckkkk!!!

The sign says these Cypress were planted in the mid 1970's after this area had the previous trees cleared and the land was re-rehabilitated. There were versions from Europe, North America, North Africa and Asia planted here as a centennial project for the 100th anniversary of Hanmer Forest. 

This area is all Cypress Trees, Forest Journey, Hanmer Forest Park

They are very striking trees but very slow growing so it will be another 50 odd years before they start to dominate the surrounding area. They are water loving and the needles are acidic so tend to kill of any under-story plants that start to take root. 

In a Cypress grove on the Forest Journey Track, Hanmer Forest Park

There is obviously an orienteering course through the forest as we saw a number of those coded makers located in the tree branches, on trees, marker posts and around significant terrain features. 

An orienteering marker in a Cypress tree, Hanmer Forest Park

These are Spanish Cypress trees, Hanmer Forest Park

There is a bench seat just past the second picnic area if the tables are full, there were still remnants of snow here from the weather we had on the first night. It would probably have been quite nice in the forest with the snow around but Karen left her jacket at home so we had to wait for a fine weather window before going for our walk. 

Last remnants of the snow from earlier in the week, Hanmer Forest Park

There must have been more snow deposited at this end of the forest as we continued to see patches of it scattered here and there for the rest of the walk...

On a forestry road, Forest Journey

Forest journey heading into a Redwood grove, Hanmer Forest Park

The last section of the track was through some mixed Redwood, Ponderosa Pine and Black Spruce forest, all these areas were planted around 1910-1915. This part of the forest is filled with trees which live for a couple of hundred years so they will still be growing when you and I are long gone.

Something to contemplate.....

Karen on the forest Journey Track, Hanmer Forest Park

Jon walking the Forest journey, Hanmer Forest Park

There is a very nice grove of mixed Ponderosa Pine/Black Spruce towards the end of the Forest Journey track, the trees are over 100 years old now and are 30+ meters tall. I love the vanilla/butterscotch smell of Ponderosa Pine they are one of my favorite tree types. 

Interpretive panel for Pondarosa Pine, Hanmer Forest Park

Pondersa Pine was one of the favored tree types in early exotic forests but they take much longer to mature than Pinus Radiata, Pinus Nigra and Pinus Contorta so became obsolete. These trees live for a long time in the US and Canada where there are 500-600 year old examples and can grow to over 60 meters tall. 

As big as they are these examples are just adolescents...

Hanmer Forest Park: adolescent Ponderosa Pine

There is a bench seat in the midst of the Poderosa Pines so you can take off a load and enjoy the trees. this photo is from summer 2015 which was the last time I walked this track. A lot of time and experiences since then....

Hanmer Forest Park: a bench near the Ponderosa Pines

How damn gorgeous is that view....a Ponderosa lined track with a thick layer of pine needles on the ground...almost looks like a American/Canadian forest. 

Lovely grove of Ponderosa Pine, Hanmer Forest Park

Once past the Ponderosa Pines you find yourself out at Jollies Pass road once again....

A snowy vista towards Mt Isobel

The remainder of the forest Journey is along the boundary fence of Hanmer forest Park. There are some nice views of Mt Isobel and the area to the north of Hanmer. You can walk on either side of the fence as there is a wide roadside margin if required. 

Mt Isobel massif from the Forest Journey Track

The track continues along just inside the fence the 600 odd meters back up the road to the car-park near the old Ranger HQ. Take care along here as this is a joint walking/MTB track so you sometimes have to dodge out of the way of bikes. 

 Jollies Pass Road borders the Hanmer Forest Park

Looking north-east along Jollies Pass Road, Hanmer Forest Park

Hanmer Forest Park: heading to end of Forest Journey

There is a grove of Pinus Nigra about half way along this section of the track. They were planted back in 1964 by kids from the local Primary School to celebrate Arbor Day. Black Pine live for about 100 years so these trees are half way through their life cycle. 

Hanmer Forest Park: grove of sixty year old trees planted on Arbor Day 1964

Alligator Alley is one of the MTB tracks through the forest so watch for cyclists at this point of the track...this is also part of the Bridle Path for people riding horses through the forest. 

Alligator Track a MTB ride in Hanmer Forest Park

Eventually the car park and ranger HQ hove into sight...there was a large group of MTB riders loading up their bikes after a ride in the forest. They were covered in mud from head to foot, hardly surprising given how wet it was along the forestry roads they use. 

They looked like a High School group as they were all about 15-16 years old...

First view of the Rangers HQ, Hanmer Forest Park

The Silver Surfer parked at the entrance to Hanmer Forest Park

Hanmer Forest Park: end of the Forest Journey

The Forest Journey is a lovely track at any time of the year but especially nice after rain and on a warm summers day. It is the longest of the Hanmer Forest Tracks but you could also walk the shorter Forest Amble (30 mins) or the Forest Walk (1 hour). All of these tracks start at the same point opposite the old Rangers HQ. 

Access: From Hanmer Springs Village head east out of town along Jollies Pass Road, the start of the various tracks are 2 km's out of town
Track Times: Forest Journey is 1.5 to 2 hours total
Miscellaneous: Toilets, water and map board located at the old Ranger Station/Park Headquarters car park on Jollies Pass Road

The Hanmer Forest Art Collection...

There is a collection of Forest Art in this part of the Hanmer Forest Park, the objects d'arte are scattered along the route of the Forest Amble and were carved by Andrew Lyons of Christchurch.

Hanmer Forest Park: interpretive panel describing the Forest Art collection

The subject are varied but include animals, flora and mythical beasts...most of them are on the first 500 meters of the track. The quality of the objects is very good and all of them have been carved from resources found in the forest including wood, logs and tree stumps. 

Hanmer Forest Park Forest Art Collection: toadstool suite

Hanmer Forest Park Forest Art Collection: possum climbing tree

Hanmer Forest Park Forest Art Collection: troll peering around tree

Hanmer Forest Park Forest Art Collection: a cackle of rats?

This is my personal favorite..a rampant Bald Eagle carved from the stump of a wind damaged tree. I like the thought and detail that went into this artwork and hey....I'm originally an American so whats not to like about a Bald Eagle....

Hanmer Forest Park Forest Art Collection: rampant bald eagle

The dog artwork is right at the start of the walk and features anatomically correct equipe d'amour......

Woof, woof, woof..........he is packing some heat!!!

Hanmer Forest Park Forest Art Collection: mans best friend....

Hanmer Forest Part Forest Art Collection:....and his equipe d'amour!!!!

Even if you dont like walking at least go down and stroll along the 30 minute Forest Amble walk to see the artworks.