I catch up to David & Maddie who are looking out over the Bay towards the Coromandel Peninsula to the right, on the horizon. Kaimai Range is to the left, Matakana Island with it’s golden beach stretches off up towards Bowentown & Waihi Beach. The inner Tauranga Harbour can be seen out behind Matakana & that’s Karewa Island centre right- an island we’ve spent many an hour fishing beside.
Down below we watch a container ship exit the Tauranga Harbour entrance with the pilot boat alongside.
It’s a steep drop down this side of the summit and far below, near the rocks, we can see short sections of the Base Track. The track across the paddock is a little higher up.
Spot the idiot? Another guy playing with fire.
Further around the lookout and the view is out over the Entrance to the harbour with Tauranga City behind. The pine forest on Matakana Island pokes out on the right.
We head off carefully down the 4WD track , it’s very steep near the top and covered in the same loose gravel that caught me out the other day. My camera phone decides to switch to black & white for a few shots- don’t ask- I have no idea, though I’m sure it was all my fault.
Where were you the other day?!
We turn off the vehicle track onto the Oruahine Track which cuts back along the north face about half way down the side of the Mauao (Mt Maunganui). The views are magnificent, this time we can see Mayor Island on the horizon.
The track is narrow and the sides extremely steep. Lose your footing or take a tumble here and there would be no stopping until you reached the bottom. Regenerating bush is slowly taking hold, a devastating blaze in January 2003 destroyed 16 hectares of vegetation on the north face, including many huge old pohutukawa - much of the fire burning what had been replanted by the community following the previous big fire in 1997.
Our house overlooked Tauranga Harbour & Mauao and I remember the 2003 fire well, the terrible sense of loss & destruction as a huge pall of smoke rose from the Mount and as the afternoon turned into night, the horrible red glow that we could see creeping around the side. Due to the lack of a water supply, it took a few days for them to get it under control and when finally they did, the whole north face was burnt and scared black. It was heartbreaking seeing the blackened slope from the sea whenever we came back into the harbour from fishing and it took many months for it to turn even slightly green.
We pass by a couple of rock climbers and even with the ropes and safety gear you’d have to have nerves of steel, especially when the view takes in the whole cliff face down to the water far below.
A short time later we join the main track again and head for home- just down the slope and over the grass. Not too many people would be able to say that, I'm sure. I high-five Maddie and tell her she did great & that she’ll remember her first walk to the top of the Mount for a very long time.
I then walk out to the edge to see if I can get a photo of the van, but all I can manage is the back end peeping out from behind the trees.
David picked Maddie up from school Monday afternoon and I bet you can guess what her teacher told him Maddie’s morning talk was about.
And don't take any note of the time below, it takes that just to get to the top! :)