It was cold and clear when I woke up at Mt Heale Hut. I probably should have been more proactive and gone to the summit for sunrise but instead I cleaned the hut. There had been a rat the night before. Probably because of the food people had left behind.
Really, on the bench there was an egg, and open UHT cream, 1/10th of a bag of chips, a little bit of cider, and some butter. A little note beside them proclaimed that the egg and cream were good on the 15/06/17. What a wonderful person to leave their rubbish behind for others to carry out. There was probably around 3kg of left overs as well.
After leaving the hut you skirt around the base of Mt Heale and then up a large old slip (same big storm) to the start of the stairs that lead to the summit of Hirakimata (Mt Hobson). There are quite a few of them.
Hirakimata is home to a Black Petrel colony but you don’t see much of them. You might be better to sit down in Whangapoua at sunrise or sunset? That’s the only time I have seen them. There are the usual calls of Kaka (demented parrot) and Pīwakawaka (fantail).
The upper part of Hirakimata was one of the only places on the Island that wasn’t logged or burnt off so it still has original bush. From the summit you pretty much have a 360 degree view of the Barrier and surrounding landscape. Nice place for a break.
Taking Palmers Track away from Hirakimata you follow the ridgeline to Windy Canyon. There isn’t much full bush which means you get really good views down into the Whangapoua basin and Kaitoke, Awana valleys. The track is good and clear but can be slippery in the wet.
Halfway along is an arch made of tree trunks. This was part of a logging system. It is incredible how valuable logs must have been back then. It is also incredible how few remain.
Further on is Windy Canyon. It is worth stopping at the top of the stairs and looking back down the valley at the columns rising from it. There is a triptych in the waiting room of the Claris Health Centre. It’s worth looking at. 🙂
Palmers Track winds through Windy Canyons steep slopes and then carries on until you reach the road. I was going to The Harataonga Coastal Walkway tracks northern end so I turned left on the road and started down Okiwi Hill.
Strangely, when you get to the start of the Harataonga Coastal Walkway the sign says there is cellphone coverage. This isn’t actually true. Probably the last cell coverage you will have will be as you leave the Whangapoua Basin at the end of the peninsula.
The Harataonga Coastal Walkway is stunning. It isn’t steep, the track is well maintained, it has great views of Rakitu (Arid Island), and small beaches. Unfortunately, you can’t go to the beaches as it is private land. Both sides of the track are private land.
When you get to Harataonga it will more than make up for that. As will the camp ground with sheep and geese wandering around. Eels in the stream and no one there.