Kaituna Valley ‑ Mt Herbert

Sunday 14 April 2013

On the day before the weather had been cloudy and cool despite the forecast saying that it would be sunny, so I didn’t have high hopes when I set out from home around 7.30 to go on Geoff Spearpoint’s ‘easy-moderate’ Kaituna valley trip. The day actually looked promising weather-wise and things looked even better when 18

others also turned up to go on the trip. Meeting Geoff at the turnoff to Kaituna valley about half an hour after leaving Halswell School we then drove to the head of the valley before wandering up past a farmhouse and continuing on a gentle slope up a four-wheel-drive track through a typical Banks Peninsula landscape dotted with large trees, small remnant patches of bush and open pasture. The sun was out and life was good as Geoff stopped us all near a stand of totara trees, remnants of the original forest in the area. We spent a pleasant few minutes whilst Geoff went off to look for signs of Chilean fireweed, an introduced creeper with a bright red, very attractive, flower. Chilean fireweed is a little like convolvulus in that you can pull off the tops but it grows again immediately from its strong root. Many weed experts think this plant may be a significant threat to our bush ecosystems, and certainly where it has not been controlled, it is prolific. Geoff has the job of controlling this stuff down on Banks Peninsula.

Back on-track we continued up to the ridge at the head of the valley. Here we wandered along a well-formed ridge track that afforded great views down the Kaituna to Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere and Kaitorete Spit and the other way down into Koukourarata/Port Levy and across to the Port Hills. We had an early lunch to enjoy the views and the weather—fine but with a cool nor’east breeze. We wandered across to Mt Herbert, a short walk away and then considered how best to get down to the cars.

A certain amount of discussion ensued, before we decided to have a go at the ridge off to our left, rather than attempting to go down a bushy gully that looked like it might require us to upgrade the difficulty level of the trip. As it turned out, we had the perfect easy-moderate bush bash through some very pleasant harakeke/flax and some surprisingly open bush. A short wander through here and we popped out into open pasture again. Around here we dropped out of the wind and the sun provided us with a good excuse for a warm stop, a drink and a view down-valley. Just so it wasn’t all too easy, most of us chose to spend some time negotiating a rough pile of rocks nicely covered with bracken and bush lawyer on our way down a steepish, grassy hillside to rejoin the four wheel drive track we had started out on.

Overall, a pleasant autumn day was had by all and for most of us we got to see some new places close to home. Thanks to Geoff for organising the trip and Liz for organising the transport and ensuring that we had an easy-moderate trip. (Chrys Horn)

Chilean Fireweed

Totara grove