I wanted to do something a bit different yesterday and was reading about the Kohitere Trig Track by Levin:
This popular spot is situated on private land and features walking and biking tracks and access to Tararua Forest Park via Kohitere Forest. It also links to the first stage of the Te Araroa walkway which runs the length of New Zealand. … the top ridge trig … offers outstanding views on a clear day with a panorama including the South Island, Kapiti Island, Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu. There are intermediate to advanced mountain bike tracks and an annual mountain biking event is held here.
I liked the sound of the outstanding views and set off late morning for the outing.
Note: rough pronunciation guide for my overseas readers:
- Tararua: tah rah rue a
- Kohitere: co he te re (the e sound in te re is like the e in the English word egg)
- Te Araroa — the long pathway: tay are a rower
- Arapaepae: are ah pie pie
- Kapiti: car pit ee
- Taranaki: tar rahn ark ee
- Ruapehu: rue ah pay who
- Toitoi — a plant with tall pennant fronds: toy toy
It’s easy to find the entrance to the track off Denton Road at the east end of Queen Street. There’s a handy notice with an overview map and walking times for the various tracks. Unfortunately, this is where my confusion began.
It looked easy: go straight up the track then turn left. Even though it clearly said Arapaepae Lookout on the board I thought I was walking on the Trig Track. After all, I’d started in the same place. 3.5 Km and 1.25 hours seemed fine.
The track is made for forestry vehicles so it’s a decent firm surface with a bit of shingle and fairly broad. The first few hundred metres are pretty much flat, but then for the next 2 Km you go straight up.
It’s steep. Very steep. After 4 months of not living at the top of Mt Victoria in Wellington my hill muscles have atrophied. Now all my walking is on the flat, except for the 50 metre driveway to our house up on a 10 metre high hill.
In Wellington you can reach the top of 196 metre high Mt Victoria by walking along the road that meanders around the hill from Kent Terrace. It’s quite a climb, especially if you’re out of practice. By comparison, the hike to the 321 metre high Arapaepae Lookout includes roughly 2 Km of road that goes straight up.
Somehow my photos never really show an incline, but by my reckoning climbing 320 metres in about 2 Km is a gradient of about 16%.
Fortunately the track is shaded by the pine and other trees, so although it was a warm day and I was sweating mightily from the exertion, at least it wasn’t in scorching sun.
Half way up was where I discovered that Siri can apparently determine altitude.
As I climbed my rest stops became more frequent. On the entire walk I encountered fewer than a dozen people. At one point a fellow with a gammy leg and a stick who was walking down told me the ‘top’ was only about 500 metres further.
A few minutes later I did indeed reach the T-junction crossroads at the top of the climb, though I wasn’t yet at the Trig.
Here’s where I remembered the map at the start of the track. I was to turn left. There were no signs around to let you know where you were or where to go next. If only I’d known the Trig was to my right!
Off I went, heading north (left) along the ridge. I walked about 1 Km along here, past an obvious lookout, but still hoping to see the trig and the 360 degree views. I reached a fork in the track, with again, no signs, and not wanting to end up on an all-day tramp, turned back to the lookout.
The Lookout had a spectacular view, looking into the sun, over Levin and surroundings. To the south was Kapiti Island.
Levin has a population of about 20,000, and the area round about is home to market gardens and some of New Zealand’s ubiquitous dairy farms.
While I was taking photos a woman and about 8 small children arrived, having apparently walked up a longer, but less steep path. As they turned the corner one boy exclaimed:
Wow, it’s beautiful! Mum, I can see the whole world!
I was so glad I’d brought a bottle of water and some snacks. Lunch might have been more appropriate though. After a brief rest I started down again, a walk that took only 40 minutes this time. It was also a bit shorter, being only 3.25 Km. My uphill walk had totalled 3.75 Km and I’d done it in 1 hour exactly.
As I understand it, some people regularly walk or run that track. One outing has put me back on the couch for a day, but I plan to do the walk again sometime. Maybe I need to practice my hill walking.
Next time I visit though I’ll take that right turn at the top and visit the trig, with its
outstanding views … including the South Island, Kapiti Island, Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu.