Te Apiti-Manawatu Gorge, Saturday 24 March 2018
This is not a loop tramp and we didn’t have a shuttle to take us back to our vehicles, so five drove round to the Ashhurst end and four started from the Balance Gorge Road. The idea was to meet in the middle for lunch and exchange keys, which is what we did.
It doesn’t matter what end you start from: they both climb steadily to begin with, but perhaps a little more steeply from the Woodville end. And there were definitely more steps at that end. This is an excellent bush walk, especially for beginners and children as there are a number of options such as shorter loop tracks (both ends) or walks to viewing points then return. We heard there was a party of 80 adults and children from Takapau on the track – but behind us, thank goodness!The bush was lush and the track well maintained. One sign informed us that there were 56 native ferns out of New Zealand’s 200 on the track. No one was counting! Also, Manawatu is the only place in New Zealand to have maidenhair fern. Wherever you looked, there was an abundance of various-sized nikau palms and plenty of the tangling supplejack. Once the sun came out, the birdlife became obvious with bellbirds and tui calls. Kereru made their distinctive noise as they flew from branch to branch.
The two teams met and had an early lunch overlooking the turbines and the Ruahines in the gentle sun. Although some of the turbines were turning, there wasn’t a breath of wind in the bush. Each viewing point along the way gave us splendid views over the gorge, river, railway, reserves, wind farms and the disused gorge road. The Big Slip lookout was closed, for obvious reasons.After a leisurely lunch, each group continued to complete the second half of the 11.2km walk. As the day went on, the track became busier with families and locals out running, racing and walking.
We finished early, so there was plenty of sunlight left to sit and relax at the Bridge Café for a milkshake, coffee and muffin.
Trampers: Gordon Tapp, Jane Howdon, Richard Daniels, Peter I, Collen Perreau, Di Gempton, John Bennett, Dorothy Sole and reporter Sue Martin