A return to Whatipu, Pt. 3: Omanawanui Track

In the previous installment, which you really should check out first if you’re just showing up, I hiked the very muddy Kura track. Now I’m getting ready to go back along the Omanawanui track.

When you’re hiking a loop, any elevation gained must eventually be lost again. Because of this, it’s easy to assume that being halfway done must mean that you must stop going up and start going down. This is, unfortunately, not true. And it’s definitively not true with this hike. The trail continues to climb as we turn around and start heading back along Omanawanui.

And climb…and climb. Sometimes quite steeply.

At least, through the trees, we get our first glimpse of the reason why I would drive all this way and hike up such a poor trail: the views!

And if we scramble up this last little bit of trail here…

Ahh, yes. There we go!

This is the Awhitu Peninsula, the Southern part of the Manukau Heads.

If we Zoom and Enhance(tm) a bit, you can see the lighthouse! It’s always really cool to see places from far away that I’ve been to in person. Also funny that it’s maybe a 15-minute boat trip but two hours of driving to get there!

Looking back along the mainland, Cornwallis Peninsula is barely visible through the trees.

The water is looking a little choppy, but it’s a nice deep blue color!

And looking down, well…uh…let’s not look down :)

The trail continues upward. Since there’s less tree cover, the sun has had a chance to evaporate off most of the mud; the trail is much easier to manage. Which is good. I don’t fancy trying to clamber up these hills only to slide back down again!

I’m hurrying a bit at this point in the hike. The weather is not looking great, but also my dallying on the beach and being delayed somewhat by the muddy Kura track have led to it being later than I would like.

The trail just keeps going up! The first time I hiked this I was pretty wiped out at this point. Thankfully, I’m in a little better shape now so I was only mostly wiped out this time!

Climbing and climbing and…wait, what’s that peeking over the brush there?

Achievement unlocked! Storm clouds unlocked too, though.

Looking out over the water shows another great view, but with those ominous dark clouds creeping in! Best not dawdle too long.

Dawdle long enough to capture this rainbow, though!

From this vantage point, I can see my goal: the carpark is down below.

With sufficient zooming, my car is even visible!

This show shows just how much altitude I need to shed before I get there, though! Onward and…upward?

Yep, despite reaching the trig mark, the trail continues to go up. Are those…chains?

Yep! This bit is steep enough that the council has bolted chains to the side of the hill to help hikers not die on their way up. How convenient!

At the top, I take a parting look at Awhitu. Looks like it’s getting darker!

Yep. The sun is setting behind that ridge there! I’ve still got some minutes of sunlight left before it sets over the horizon, but darkness is approaching.

Might as well stay and admire the sunset while I can, though.

And the hills are ablaze.

The harbor is lovely in the light of the setting sun!

A bit further on, there’s a bench up here for sitting and taking in these lovely views! I really do like this shot. I didn’t sample the bench for myself, though, since I needed to hoof it.

Before consummating said hoofing, I did pause to take this photo of Paratutae Island, which is what that blobular outcropping is called (despite not being, properly speaking, an island).

And now for the descent. You would absolutely need that bench if you did the loop in the other direction, as this trail sheds (or gains, depending on where you start) a few hundred meters of elevation very, very quickly.

As it heads down back into the wooded area, the trail gets a bit marshy again. Don’t let your proximity to the end lull you into a false sense of security! Steady footwork is needed here.

I was also hampered by this tree that decided to block my path. If I had more time I would have paused to tidy it up a bit, but as it was I just ducked through.

And at least, back down. It’s only a short walk along this grassy bit before you get back to the road and the carpark. A look at my camera timestamps show that I did this bit in one hour and 42 minutes, which is about half an hour less than the signs estimate. Not too bad for such a steep track, and it just shows the difference between muddy and relatively clean trails!

And that, my friends, is Whatipu! I had a glance back over my previous posts, and though these ones are much longer and have much better pictures, it’s interesting how in some cases I captured much the same views and even said similar things (I did mis-count the fords on the previous post, claiming four when there are in fact five. Some simple math will prove the latter figure true, as after all the fords are done you wind up on the opposite side of the river from where you start).

I’m glad I got a chance to return to Whatipu. This beach — and this hike — will forever hold a special place in my heart!

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