When walking in Egmont National Park, Mt Taranaki gets all the glory. But the diminutive and nearby Kaitake Range offers some memorable walking without the mammoth ascents.This trip starts from Lucy’s Gully, named after Lucy Stevens who lived in Oakura in the early 1900s. Decorated with moko and usually wearing a black scarf, the toothless woman was a popular landmark, selling mushrooms, blackberries, kete and whip thongs to travelling bullock and horse-drawn vehicle drivers at the monthly Okato sales. Her husband and two sons were buried in the valley and she would visit their graves for days at a time. The Waimoku Track and Sefton Ridge Track meet approximately 45 minutes below Patuha Trig and can be combined to form a loop, with a detour to the trig. It is easier to ascend via the Waimoku Track and return via the Sefton Ridge Track, as this is better graded. All tracks are marked with orange triangles. I started the formed but single file Waimoku Track by passing through an impressive plantation of lofty Californian redwoods, planted in the Depression years of the 1930s. The vegetation on the Kaitake Range differs from the slopes of Mt Taranaki. Tawa, hinau and pukatea are the predominant canopy species, while mahoe and pigeonwood form the shrub tier. In many places, I was thankful for the markers, as vegetation often masked the track and a dense lattice of supplejack and kiekie entwined the lower canopy. Views are hidden until a small north-facing grass clearing, which appears 15 minutes before the signposted junction with the Sefton Ridge Track.
The track now drops to follow a small stream, before climbing steeply to a pinnacle. This outcrop captures views in all directions, capped only by those at Patuha Trig (682m). At times, I needed all four limbs to climb the steep rocky sections.
The views encompass the entire Mt Taranaki ring plain and coastline, including the Pouakai Range which is dwarfed by Mt Taranaki. Various ridges descend from the trig, which caps the resistant remains of the former volcanic cone I stood on.
Descending from the trig, I returned via the easy Sefton Ridge Track. Near here was the site of a battle during the Second Taranaki War in 1864. A clearing of approximately 100m by 300m was used by local Maori for crop cultivation. This hidden site was protected from coastal invaders and provided a useful source of food in times of war. On April 21, 1864, however, nearby Te Ahuahu Pa was attacked by Taranaki Bushrangers who then ascended the ridge and destroyed the crops in the clearing. They found three whares containing luggage from a wrecked ship named Te Namu, which sank near Opunake in 1862. Although the remains are now overgrown, the history is still present.
- Total Ascent
- Lucy’s Gully is signposted 3.3km south-west of Oakura along Upper Ahu Ahu Road
- Waimoku and Sefton Ridge tracks (gpx, 5 KB)
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