Sunday, March 21, 2010

Godley Head Summit

2010. Taylors Mistake: DOC Godley Head Walkway Sign & Bach

One Friday morning I parked my car at Taylors Mistake beach, Christchurch, as I wanted to circuit walk Godley Head Walkway up to Godley Battery, climb Crater Rim Walkway to Godley Head Summit, and return to Taylors Mistake via Crater Rim Walkway and Anaconda Track.

2010. Taylors Mistake, Christchurch

1. GODLEY HEAD WALKWAY: Taylors Mistake to Godley Battery, 3.5 kms. My time, 1 1/2 hours.

At Taylors Mistake Carpark a DOC sign stated:


<- GODLEY HEAD CARPARK 1 hr 30 min

2010. Taylors Mistake Beach, Christchurch

I crossed a wooden footbridge over a smelly creek filled with rotting kelp. I passed a row of baches with tiny gardens facing Taylors Mistake beach. Two sweaty, middle-aged women jogged past while I coolpixed Taylors Mistake beach and beyond to Whitewash Head, Scarborough.

By baches I passed a profusion of native and exotic plants: iceplants, geraniums, alyssums, cotyledons, daisies, coprosmas, myoporums, broadleafs, olearias, metrosideros, echiums... Near the end of the baches, two sweaty, middle-aged women walked past, while I read more signs:




2010. Taylors Mistake: DOC Dog Leash Sign


2010. Taylors Mistake: Paua Fishing Rules Sign


2010. Godley Head Walkway: Taylors Mistake

I zigzagged up stone steps where two more sweaty, middle-aged women jogged past. I passed through a small gate onto dry, grassy slopes overlooking Taylors Mistake and the Pacific. By the gate DOC signs stated:



2010. Godley Head Walkway: Taylors Mistake & Scarborough

I passed a bench overlooking Taylors Mistake, and passed loess erosion above and below the track, with metal palisade fencing stopping walkers falling off Godley Head Walkway down seacliffs. I passed two more identical signs:


2010. Godley Head Walkway: Harris Bay, Black Rock, Scarborough

I climbed wooden steps with views of Taylors Mistake, Whitewash Head, Pacific, and a shag sunning its wings on a shore macrocarpa. I passed a path descending to Black Rock at one end of Harris Bay, and another metal palisade fence by more loess erosion.

I passed masses of red-flowering cotyledons on dry, grassy slopes. By the rocky shore, kelp swayed in the Pacific.

2010. Godley Head Walkway: Fishing Spots, Harris Bay, Taylors Mistake, Scarborough

Rounding a corner above Harris Bay, Godley Head Walkway became rocky and rutted before a stile, with a boardwalk descending more loess erosion at the head of Harris Bay. Past rocky fishing spots on Harris Bay shore, Godley Head Walkway ascended gently with views of Taylors Mistake, Scarborough, hazy Pegasus Bay, Pacific.

Trackside kelp and cotyledons reminded me of kelp and cotyledons on Namaqualand sandveld coast.

2010. Godley Head Walkway: Box Cove, Harris Bay, Taylors Mistake, Scarborough

Godley Head Walkway passed Box Cove and paths descending to steps above another rocky fishing spot. The two women walkers sweated past, returning to Taylors Mistake. A male jogger slogged past in black singlet and shorts. He looked unfit and stopped a lot.

2010. Godley Head Walkway: Cotyledons & Gate above Boulder Bay, Scarborough backdrop

On grassy slopes, I passed dry thistles, wiry muehlenbekias and fleshy cotyledons, the morning sun reflecting off red cotyledon flowers all the way up Godley Head. I passed through another small gate above Boulder Bay baches with Pacific views.

I watched the male jogger resting on the steep slope above Boulder Bay. When he saw me, he smartly jogged upwards. I passed through a third small gate, and crossed a stile by macrocarpas above Boulder Bay.

2010. Godley Head Walkway: Boulder Bay, Taylors Mistake, Scarborough

Slogging above Boulder Bay, on my right I saw WW2 Battery Observation Post 3 overlooking Pegasus Bay, and on Godley Head Summit I saw WW2 Battery Observation Post 1, which had a commanding view over Godley Head and the Pacific. The male jogger puffed downhill.

The higher I climbed, the grander my grassland views over Taylors Mistake, Scarborough, Avon-Heathcote Estuary and hazy Christchurch. Haze stopped me seeing Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps.

From Taylors Mistake, all along the track six inch nails, each with blue plastic tape attached, had been hammered into the centre of the track every 14 metres or so. I wondered if the nails marked distance, or mud slips in wet weather?

2010. Godley Head Walkway, Godley Head Reserve: Scarborough & Pegasus Bay

Near Godley Head top, I passed another DOC sign:

CARPARK 5 mins ->
TAYLOR BATTERY <- 15 min return

2010. DOC Fire Service Hole Diggers, Godley Head Road. Mt Evans backdrop

2010. Godley Head Heritage Trust Sign, Godley Head Reserve

2010. Ministery of Fisheries Sign, Godley Head Reserve

In Godley Head Reserve I passed sheep in grassland, and crossed two stiles before reaching DOC Carpark by Godley Head Road. I watched two men digging a hole by their DOC RURAL FIRE truck parked on Godley Head Road, with spectacular views of Mt Evans and cloudy banks Peninsula across Lyttelton Harbour.

Since I'd passed that way a year before, Godley Head Carpark and picnic area was improved by DOC. Signage was better too. I coolpixed signage by Godley Head Road overlooking Pegasus Bay:




2010. DOC Sign: Godley Head Reserve

2010. DOC WW2 Hatches & Shafts Sign, Godley Head Reserve. Lyttelton Harbour & Mt Evans behind

On the other side of the DOC Carpark and picnic area, I looked at WW2 hatches and shafts, where a DOC sign stated:

"What are these hatches and shafts?

These relics of the coastal defence era of World War 11 have puzzled us for years.

Underneath you is a large underground chamber - simply a concrete-lined hole in the ground. One of two such bunkers it is thought to have been a war shelter in case the area was bombarded by enemy fire. The tall 'chimney' is possibly a ventilation shaft.

Access was by way of a manhole, then descent of the steel ladder.

Last century they were labelled 'underground kitchens,' but there is no evidence to support this...

The two concrete strong points built into the hillside near the chambers are sentry posts overlooking the landing site below."

2010. DOC Hatches & Shafts Sign, Godley Head Reserve

Remembering my sentry days at Durban Bluff WW2 Guns, during Dec-Jan 1969-70, I guessed the underground hatches, shafts and chambers on Godley Head were storage chambers or magazines, like those riddling Durban Bluff.

2010. DOC Sign, Godley Head Reserve: Tunnel Track, Coastal Lookout, Gun Emplacements

Admiring Lyttelton Harbour and Banks Peninsula views, I lunched at a new concrete table and bench at the DOC picnic area: CocaCola, ham and lettuce sarmie. I watched cars, MTBs, walkers and joggers come and go: cycling along Godley Head Road; looking at DOC info boards and signs; walking paths to Taylor Battery, Godley Battery, Godley Tunnels.

2010. Godley Head Reserve Picnic Area. Lyttelton Harbour, Adderley Head & Port Levy Mouth behind

I coolpixed views over Lyttelton Harbour mouth and Port Levy mouth and bronze words in new concrete steps by DOC picnic tables:

protect ~ honour

protect ~ resist

protect ~ strengthen

I wondered whether the words were DOC's or a WW2 military slogan?

2020. WW2 Memorial: Inscribed Steps, Godley Head Picnic Area. Mt Evans backdrop

2. CRATER RIM WALKWAY and ANACONDA MTB TRACK: Godley Head Carpark to Godley Head Summit return to Taylors Mistake, 3.5 kms. My time, 1 1/2 hours.

2010. DOC Godley Head Map & Info Board, Godley Head Reserve

At Godley Head Carpark by Godley Head Road, I coolpixed DOC info boards by public toilets. A DOC sign stated:


VIA SUMMIT ROUTE -> 3.5 km / 1 hr 30 min


2010. DOC Crater Rim Walkway Sign, Godley Head Reserve

2010. Crater Rim Walkway: Godley Head & Lyttelton Harbour Mouth

From Godley Head Carpark I crossed a stile, and didn't bother wandering Crater Rim Walkway, as sheep tracks through dry tussock ascended the summit. On my way up I coolpixed a DOC sign overlooking Godley Battery and the Pacific:

"Who worked here during World War 11?

It may look a little deserted today, but 718 people were stationed out here in August 1941. Apart from the soldiers and officers, they included a chaplain, medical officers, batmen who looked after officers, fitters, instrument mechanics, carpenter, drivers, storemen, electrician, telephonists, linesmen who looked after the communication lines, cooks and three bootmakers. They got one day off in every six, and a break of seven days off every two months.

In December 1942, life at the camp changed with the arrival of women. The Women's Auxillary Army Corps (WAAC) manned the observation posts, radar, plotting rooms and direction of searchlights, as well as doing administration, kitchen work and driving duties. It wasn't all work out here - the women livened up the social life at the Head. In their time off the soldiers played basketball (netball) and football (rugby). Social occasions were a time for music and dancing."

A WW2 holiday camp at Kiwi taxpayers' expense.

2010. Crater Rim Walkway: DOC Info, Godley Head, "Who worked here during World War 11?"

2010. Godley Head, WW2 Battery Observation Post 3

Near Godley Head Summit, I coolpixed Battery Observation Post 3, which had a flat concrete roof and graffiti-sprayed concrete walls, buried amongst rocks overlooking the Pacific.

On Godley Head Summit, in Battery Observation Post 1, amongst crumbling concrete walls and rusty windows, I coolpixed a DOC info board:

"The view from the top - Battery Observation Post 1
Seaward Defence Headquarers

Can you see far today... or is the view clouded in mist?

This post was the eyes of the fort at Godley Head: one of three observation posts built in World War 11 - all of which remain today.

It was the focal point of the Battery, with officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force all on duty. The Battery Commander was in charge and each officer had an assistant and a telephone operator.

The post could be shrouded by mist and could not always be used for observation - this being done from the other two battery observation posts.

Plotters recorded the position of shipping on a wall chart. A depression range finder was used to determine the distance and bearing of a vessel from the observation post. Information was transmitted from the radar station, or the other observation posts to the plotting room where calculations were done and aiming directions sent to the guns. Instructions came as electrical pulses which operated the dials giving the required elevation and direction. The gunners aligned the guns to these settings to hit the target.

After World War 11 Compulsory Military Training for all 18-year-old males was introduced in 1949 and ceased in 1958; this building was used as the Seaward Defence Quarters during this time. The Godley Battery and Camp were used for Women's Auxillary Army Corps training."

2010. DOC Info: Godley Head, WW2 Battery Observation Post 1

2010. Godley Head: WW2 Battery Observation Post 1. Mt Evans backdrop

By Battery Observation Post 1, I walked past concrete bases of two ruined military buildings, and coolpixed divine views around the nearby geodetic trig beacon on Godley Head Summit:

Southwards - Mt Evans and cloudy Banks Peninsula, Lyttelton Harbour, Diamond Harbour.
Westwards - Lyttelton, Mt Pleasant, Port Hills.
Northwards - Scarborough, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, hazy Christchurch. (Southern Alps obscured by haze).
Eastwards - Godley Battery, Taylor Battery, Lyttelton Harbour Mouth, Pacific.

2010. Godley Head Summit: WW2 Battery Observation Post 1 & Godley Battery above Lyttelton Harbour Mouth

2010. Godley Head Summit view of Lyttelton Harbour Mouth, Adderly Head & Port Levy Mouth

2010. Godley Head Summit view of Lyttelton Harbour, Mt Evans & cloudy Mt Herbert, Banks Peninsula

2010. Godley Head Summit view of Lyttelton Harbour, Purau, Diamond Harbour, Cloudy Mt Herbert & Port Hills

2010. Godley Head Summit view of Lyttelton Harbour, Port Hills & Mt Pleasant Summit

2010. Godley Head Summit view of Scarborough, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Pegasus Bay

2010. Godley Head Summit view of hazy Pacific

From Godley Head Summit I followed the fence line descending to Godley Head Road by the end of Scarborough Reserve. (I avoided longer Crater Rim Walkway descending the slope on Lyttelton Harbour side). On my left I had views of Banks Peninsula, Lyttelton Harbour, Purau, Diamond Harbour, Quail Island, Port Hills, and below Godley Head - Mechanics Bay. Ahead was Mt Pleasant, and on my right hazy Christchurch.

2010. Crater Rim Walkway: Godley Head view of Lyttelton Harbour, Diamond Harbour & Port Hills. WW2 Sentry Post, fence left. Godley Head Road, fence right

At the bottom of the hill near two WW2 concrete sentry posts overlooking Lyttelton Harbour and Mt Evans, I crossed Godley Head Road and found another sign:


2010. Godley Head Road: Shared Use Track above Scarborough & Pacific

I crossed a boardwalk over dry sedges below Godley Head Road, and on the shared use track two male MTBs whizzed down to Taylors Mistake, with views over dry, grassy slopes, hazy Pegasus Bay and the Pacific.

I walked through dry grass and fleshy cotyledons and joined ANACONDA MTB TRACK, which zigzagged down to Taylors Mistake. Anaconda MTB Track sign warned: PEDESTRIANS GIVE WAY.

2010. Godley Head Shared Use Track: Taylors Mistake & Scarborough beyond

2010. Anaconda MTB Track: Harris Bay, Box Cove, Pacific, Godley Head beyond

I wandered over a stock grid and joined a walking track leaving Anaconda MTB Track and descending a grassy slope to Taylors Mistake. Near the bottom of the slope, crossing another stock grid, I rejoined Anaconda MTB Track which briefly paralleled Godley Head Walkway and returned to Taylors Mistake behind the row of baches.

2010. Anaconda MTB Track: Taylors Mistake & Scarborough

Signs on one of the stock grids and a gate by baches stated:


2010. Godley Head Walkway: Taylors Mistake Baches & Beach

At the back of batches, by a stile two Christchurch City Council signs stated:



2010. Stile, Godley Head Walkway near Taylors Mistake Baches

On Saturday, Leah and I followed my Friday footsteps to Boulder Bay. Seaviews were clear across Pegasus Bay to the Southern Alps. Across Canterbury Plains we saw hazy Mt Oxford, Mt Richardson, Mt Thomas, and beyond to hazy Puketeraki Range.

Besides many walkers, dog walkers (with unleashed and leashed dogs, some with full poop bags attached to collars), and joggers, we saw groups of anglers at Black Rock by Harris Bay, and at various rocky spots around Harris Bay, and beyond Box Cove by steps near a rock platform.

Returning from Boulder Bay we stopped on the boardwalk above Harris Bay, and watched a woman sitting on a rock far below, waiting for a diver to surface with paua for their bag.

On the path descending to Black Rock, three smiley Indonesian women, wearing dark ankle-length robes and dark scarves, gracefully descended to fishermen on Black Rock.

2010. Cotyledons, Cotyledon orbiculata, Godley Head Walkway

Coda: 2010-2011 earthquakes. Whitewash Head cliff collapsed during the 13.06.11 quake. Box Cove rocks collapsed.

Content & Pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mt Grey Ghosts

2010. Road Signs near Amberley on the way to Mt Grey

As I wanted to climb Mt Grey (934m) in Hurunui district, one Friday I drove about 70 kms from Christchurch to Lake Janet in Ashley Forest, via Amberley, Douglas Road and Cramptons Bush Road, which became dirt road for about 17 kms through farm and forest hills to Lake Janet.

I wanted to do a circular day-walk from Lake Janet on a forestry road up Mt Grey; descend Mt Grey to Grey River; return to Lake Janet on forestry roads.

Caution: I climbed Mt Grey one hot morning, weather changed quickly on Mt Grey summit, and during my afternoon descent it rained. Hill walking fitness, water, food and weatherproof gear are needed.

2010. Cramptons Bush Road view of Mt Grey (934m)

2010. Cyanide & Fire Danger Signs, Cramptons Bush Road, Mt Grey

By a gate at the bottom of Mt Grey Forest, two signs stated:



2010. Mt Thomas view from Lake Janet, lower Mt Grey slope

Regarding Sir George Grey, after whom Mt Grey was named, in the 1800s twice governor of NZ, once premier, and governor of the Cape Colony - my connections: I saw Sir George Grey's tomb in St Pauls Cathedral, London. My East London, Selborne College hockey teams played at Grey High School, Port Elizabeth and at Grey College, Bloemfontein. I had holidays at my aunt's home in President Reitz Laan, Bloemfontein, easy walking distance from Grey College.

I'd holidayed at Elandspruit farm near New Hanover, not far from Greytown. My brother had meningitis at Grey's Hospital, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal - all named after Sir George Grey.

I'd also trekked over the Southern Alps to Punakaiki, via West Coast's Grey River and Greymouth.

2010. Lake Janet Picnic Area Sign, Mt Grey

At Lake Janet carpark, I saw the fire lookout and transmitter on Mt Grey skyline. Westwards beyond Ashley Forest I saw distant Mt Thomas, also forested, and beyond to Canterbury Plains vanishing into haze. By Lake Janet Picnic Area sign another sign stated:


2010. No Fires, No Motorcycles Signs, Lake Janet

I crossed a duckboard bridge by Lake Janet, a misnomer pond, surrounded by gorse, broom, shrubs and plantings: Douglas firs, gums, willows, birches, beeches, Coprosma robusta, flax.

Sir George Grey would've enjoyed picnicking there, as he was a naturalist like Earl Selborne. In SA, Sir George Grey had unsuccessfully vouched for a Union of SA colonies and republics, which only came about in 1910 during Earl Selborne's tenure as SA High Commissioner.

2010. Lake Janet, Mt Grey

On the other side of Lake Janet, with eucalyptus scent wafting over me, I crossed a locked gate on the forestry dirt road which climbed to Mt Grey summit.

2010. Forestry Road, Lake Janet, Mt Grey


The forestry dirt road steeply climbed Mt Grey in a huge S, looping up Mt Grey eastern slopes through pine / beech forest; looping westwards through pine / beech forest to the fire lookout above the tree line; looping eastwards along Mt Grey summit slope through subalpine vegetation to the transmitter, where the dirt road stopped.

On my hot climb through pine forest, I saw hazy Hurunui hills to hazy Pacific. Lining pine forest roadside I saw gorse, thistles, broom, facelia, grass, yarrow, Coprosma robusta.

After about 20 minutes climb, I came upon cool beech forest, with an unmarked track leaving the roadside through wineberries and tree fuchsias by a small waterfall.

It took some minutes for my eyes to adjust from bright sunlight on the road to beech gully gloom. I didn't climb the beech gully, as it was too steep and dark.

2010. Fire Lookout seen from Mt Grey Forestry Road

Back on the forestry road, for a while I had beech forest on my left and pine forest on my right, with glimpses of Mt Grey Forest below and beyond to brown Hurunui hills, to hazy Pegasus Bay and distant Kaikouras Ranges. Behind I saw the fire lookout on a forested ridge crest.

2010. Mt Grey Pine Forest view of Mt Grey Forest, hazy Canterbury Plains & Pacific

Soon pine forest lined both sides of the dirt road. A forester and his smiley wife pulled up in their ute. "You're on the best way up," he said, then continued driving downhill. They were the only ghosts I saw on Mt Grey.

Higher up, the forestry road looped back past the beech gully, where a roadside sign stated:


2010. QE11 National Trust Sign, Mt Grey

Five months before, I'd seen similar National Trust signs at Mears Bush near Oxford. I passed another National Trust sign attached to a roadside red beech, Nothofagus fusca. The sign reminded me of my volunteer supervisor work on National Trust properties near Dorking and Seven Oaks, England.

2010. Mt Grey east slope view of Mt Grey Beech Forest & Mt Grey Summit

After about 1 1/2 hours slog up the forestry road, the road broke through the tree line above the fire lookout, where I stopped on the corner for a CocaCola cool off in the breeze.

I coolpixed views: northwards - forest, hazy Hurunui hills and Kaikouras; eastwards - forest, hazy Amberley and hazy Canterbury Plains to hazy Pegasus Bay; southwards - forest, hazy Canterbury Plains (too hazy to see Christchurch and Banks Peninsula), Mt Thomas, hazy Mt Oxford; south-westwards - hazy Torlesse Range, hazy Puketeraki Range.

2010. Fire Lookout, below Mt Grey Summit

2010. Fire Lookout view of Mt Grey Forest & hazy Canterbury Plains

For the next 1/2 hour the dirt road sidled gently up the west slope of Mt Grey summit, (I ignored an unmarked track along the summit crest), through dry subalpine vegetation: tussocks, scrubby kanukas, white-flowering hebes, matagouri, flax, broom, celmisias.

I watched two Australian harriers soaring above western beech ridges, with magnificent views of Puketeraki Range.

2010. Fire Lookout view of Mt Grey Forest, hazy Canterbury Plains & Mt Thomas

2010. Mt Grey Summit Hebe odora view of Mt Grey Forest, Mt Thomas & Puketeraki Range


2010. Mt Grey Summit view of hazy Canterbury Plains & Mt Thomas

2010. Mt Grey Summit Road view of hazy Canterbury Plains & Mt Thomas

2010. Summit Transmitter, Mt Grey Summit (934m)

Below the big transmitter on Mt Grey summit, I coolpixed eastern views over hazy Canterbury Plains & western views over hazy Mt Thomas, Mt Oxford, Southern Alps.

I walked towards Mt Grey survey beacon along the narrow summit saddle, with Mt Grey eastern slopes dropping to pine forests on rounded hills, and Mt Grey western slopes dropping to beech forests on steep ridges.

2010. Mt Grey Summit view of Hurunui Hills & Pacific

2010. Mt Grey Summit view of Hurunui Hills

2010. Mt Grey Summit view of Hurunui Hills

2010. Mt Grey Summit Ridge view of Summit Beacon

On the rocky, windy saddle between Mt Grey transmitter and summit trig beacon, I found three wooden signs arranged in a triangle:

LOOKOUT 30 mins ->

PICNIC AREA 2-3 hours - >

RED BEECH TRACK 2-3 hours ->

2010. Mt Grey Summit Ridge Signs between Summit Beacon & Summit Transmitter

Red Beech Track went down a gully through dry subalpine vegetation, then beech forest, to Grey River Picnic Area.

I would descend Mt Grey Track below the dirt road on Mt Grey summit, then continue along a dry subalpine ridge to beech forest going down to Grey River Picnic Area.

At the signs I stopped for lunch: apple, ham and lettuce sarmie, muesli bar, CocaCola. I tried to text Leah. No good: Like on Mt Thomas, Mt Richardson, Mt Oxford summits, despite the big transmitter atop Mt Grey I was out of texting range.

2010. Mt Grey Dry West Slope view of Mt Grey Summit Transmitter

201o. Golden Spaniard, Aciphylla aurea, Mt Grey Summit west slope

2010. Beech Forest, Mt Grey Western Slopes

2010. Mt Grey Track Hebe odora western view of Mt Grey Forest & Mt Thomas

While saddle winds cooled me, and while distant haze swiftly changed to clouds, I thought of ancient Maori regarding Mt Grey / Moukatere (Floating Mountain) as the place where Maori ghosts gathered on the South Island for their trek to the North Island and Cape Reinga, where Maori ghosts went to their underworld.

I felt nothing supernatural on Mt Grey summit, but I'd been spooked in the mist weeks before on Mt Thomas. Maybe Maori ghosts lost their way on Mt Thomas? I wondered why Maori ghosts hadn't gathered on higher Alpine peaks?

2010. Matagouri Thorns, Mt Grey Track

2010. Mt Grey Track view of Mt Grey Summit

2010. Aciphylla aurea & Hebe odora, Mt Grey Track

2010. Apple & Prickly Mingimingi, Leptecophylla juniperina, Mt Grey Track

2010. Mt Grey Track view of Mt Grey Forest & Mt Thomas

2010. Prickly Mingimingi, Leptecophylla juniperina, Mt Grey Track

For about 1/2 hour I wandered through dry subalpine tussock with views of Canterbury Plains and Mt Thomas ahead; Mt Grey western slopes dropping to beech gullies, with views of beech ridges and Puketeraki Range beyond.

I passed white-flowering hebes, matagouri, golden Spaniards, Aciphylla aurea, with their maces of spiky leaves. I saw bush snowberries, Gaultheria antipoda, their red berries bright against brown tussocks.

2010. Beech Forest, Mt Grey Track

2010. Bush Lawyer, Rubus cissoides, Mt Grey Track

2010. Bush Lawyer Berries, Mt Grey Track

2010. Orange Marker on Beech, Mt Grey Track

2010. Mt Grey Track Beeches & Undergrowth

2010. Mt Grey Track Beeches

2010. Snowberry, Gaultheria antipoda & Wasp, Mt Grey Track

Mt Grey Track, zigzagging down beech forest, was well marked with orange plastic triangles nailed to trees. I crossed a trickling stream, and through beech canopy I had glimpses of Mt Thomas and Mt Oxford on my right, and on my left glimpses of Canterbury Plains.

An hour into the beech forest, it began to rain, so I had dripping beeches and dripping understorey thereafter. In places Mt Grey Track was muddy, with track churned by MTB tyres. I passed a sign:


2010. Karaka, Corynocarpus laevigatus, Mt Grey Track

2010. Soft Mingimingi, Leucopogon fasciculatus, Mt Grey Track

2010. Soft Mingimingi & Prickly Mingimingi, Leptecophylla juniperina with red berries, Mt Grey Track

Mt Grey Track was rocky with lots of cracked stones beside the steep track. In the beech understorey I passed broadleafs; lancewoods; lophomyrtus; bush lawyers with bunches of orange / red berries; scrubby kanukas; wineberries; coprosmas; horopitos; karakas; matipos; rimus; masses of mosses, lichens and ferns like blechnums; silver ferns; five-fingers; tree fuchsias; red-berried mingimingis, Leptecophylla juniperina, with small, spiky leaves.

2010. Snowberry, Gaultheira antipoda showing serrated margin leaves, Mt Grey Track

2010. Hounds Tongue Fern, Phymatosorus pustulatus on Lichen Rock, Mt Grey Track

2010. Bracket Fungus on Trunk, Mt Grey Track

2010. Pines in Beech Forest Glade, Mt Grey Track

2010. Duckboard Through Beeches, Mt Grey Track

2010. Tree Fern & Schefflera digitata in Beech Forest, Mt Grey Track

2010. Wooden Footbridge over Grey River in Beech Forest, Mt Grey Track

In glades on my way down I encountered inevitable gorse, and near the valley bottom I crossed 5 duckboard footbridges through dark, dripping beeches, crossed a wooden footbridge over Grey River, then another duckboard footbridge, and a curved boardwalk, before reaching the dirt road going over Grey River on a concrete causeway. By the road a sign stated:

2-3 hours

2010. Mt Grey Track Sign near Grey River

2010. Grey River above Ford & Picnic Area

2010. DOC Map, Grey River Picnic Area

2010. Grey River Picnic Area Info Board

At Grey River Picnic Area, I coolpixed the DOC map board and info board, and looked at more signs:


2010. Nature Trail Wooden Steps, Grey River Picnic Area

I explored the beech forest picnic area, then walked up the steep dirt road past two Nature Trail entrances into beech forest, till I reached a locked gate forbidding me entering a forestry area. I coolpixed forested Mt Grey with cloudy summit, then returned to the picnic area.

2010. Okuku Road view of Misty Mt Grey

3. GREY RIVER PICNIC AREA TO LAKE JANET. My time, 1 1/4 hours.

2010. Beehives in Beech Forest, Okuku Road

From Grey River Picnic Area, I walked up Okuku Road, a forestry dirt road, with pine forest both sides of Okuku Road, and beehives stacked in four places beside the road. I passed roadside gorse and broom, and where Okuku Road joined Mt Grey Road near another locked gate, I passed another sign:


2010. Mt Grey Road view of Misty Mt Grey

2010. Wineberry, Aristotelia serrata, Mt Grey Road

2010. Tree Fuchsia, Coprosma & Schefflera, Mt Grey Road

While I slogged up Mt Grey Road to Lake Janet, mist still covered Mt Grey summit and crept down beech valleys. I wondered whether Maori ghosts had swirled up there?

I passed pine patches and beech patches beside misty Mt Grey Road, and on the disturbed roadside I coolpixed dripping wineberries, tree fuchsias, scheffleras, coprosmas, kanukas, sedges, hebes, toetoes, tutus, bush lawyers. Sir George would've approved.

2010. Schefflera, Ferns & Gorse, Mt Grey Road

2010. Tutu, Coriaria arborea, Mt Grey Road

In mid winter I drove Leah to Mt Grey, where snow speckled Mt Grey summit above the tree line. By Lake Janet, deciduous larches had lost their needles, and the green Lake Janet sign was missing. Four young men, hunters with rifles left Lake Janet picnic area when they saw us, and drove down Mt Grey Road. Leah and I walked round Lake Janet in 5 minutes, then had tea in our Honda Civic.

On our drive down to Grey River, I had to watch out for icy potholes on icy Mt Grey Road. A winter storm had strewn young pines beside the dirt road. The hunters' empty blue car was parked at Mt Grey Road / Okuku Road fork. Road gates were locked, so we turned back.

At Lake Janet again, we enjoyed clear views across Mt Grey Forest, Hurunui Hills, Canterbury Plains, Pegasus Bay, Port Hills and Banks Peninsula. We admired forested Mt Thomas and snowy Puketeraki & Torlesse Ranges. On our drive back to Amberley, we glimpsed snowy Kaikouras Ranges through Hurunui Hills.

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont

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