Sunday, June 19, 2011

The T42

My second off road marathon of the year, the T42 was a race that I was looking forward to. The course was over the 42nd Traverse in the central North Island and is a very popular mountain biking route. It had been a destination that I have been meaning to tick off for some time.

The day dawned cold and very wet, thankfully the last drops of rain fell on the start line and the remainder of the day was in warm sunshine. The course consisted of more downhill than uphill, something that I had never experienced in my previous off road marathons. The terrain was predominantly 4 x 4 track some shingle and some clay based with a short section at the start through unmarked farmland. We were also treated to a 3k single-track section leading to the final climb and the finish at Owhango Domain.

The beauty of the run for me was the shear isolation, the sound of a couple of wild pigs reinforcing this. The majority of the race is spent under the forest canopy so the views are few and far between. But some dense NZ bush does make up for that, along with the real community feel at the finish in Owhango.

I felt strong throughout and picked up a couple of places on the main climb, mid way through and on the final climb into the finish. Spending more time running downhill did take it out of my thighs and if I were to compete again I would focus on this in my training. That said I finished in third place in a time of 3 hours 37 minutes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Taranaki Falls

Taranaki Falls and the Mangatepopo Track: 1 hour 50 running time

Starting behind The Chateau the lower Taranaki Falls track is kept to a high standard due no doubt to the large number of walkers. The track in its entirety is a two hour loop. After 15 minutes running I turned up the Mangatepopo Track part of the Tongariro Northern Circuit. I ran out and back on this track through some brilliant tussock and shrub alpine scenery. On a good day the views up to Mt Ngarahoe and Tongariro would be superb. Back on the Taranaki Falls the track followed up the Taranaki River to the small Taranaki Falls. The track then wound through a lava field and returned to The Chateau.

Mt Taranaki

Mt Taranaki

Day One 5 hours 30 walking: After following Pembroke Road, one of the main access routes for Mt Taranaki we parked at The Mountain House about 850m. The first section of the Around the Mountain circuit was a bit of a killer as it involved a steep 45 minute grind up to The Plateau (the carpark for the local ski field) via the road. The first section of trail took us through the ski field and on a steady climb on some technical terrain to Tahurangi Lodge and our highest point of 1400m. Sadly the conditions deteriorated and our visibility was down to around 100m. Past the lodge and the track became a little easier. The final descent of the day into Holy Hut gave tremendous views over the Ahukawakawa Swamp.

Day two, 7 hours walking: The second day barely dawned; a thick layer of cloud had enveloped the mountain. That with the horrendous weather report forced us to take on the Pouakai Circuit instead of completing the AMC. From the Hut and across the Ahukawakawa Swamp the views from the previous day were a distant memory. On the other side of the swamp the track rose sharply through a series of stairs, something that would become the theme of the day. After around an hour and a half we reached Pouakai Hut and some foul weather. We then went through what would probably have been some great alpine surroundings and climbed up over 2200 pieces of wood to Henrys Peak at 1300m. The remainder of the day was spent descending through tree roots and across un-bridged streams to Mt Taranaki’s main information centre at 890 metres. Our last hour and a bit was spent walking up the aptly named Puffer track to the warmth of Maketawa Hut.

Day three, 2 hours 15 walking: More bad weather greeted us in the morning, vindicating our decision to cut the weekend short. The final walk back to the Mountain House was short but contained more steep climbs in and out of numerous dry riverbeds.

Kepler Track

Kepler Track

Day One: A nice easy start from the DOC office in Te Anau along the banks of Lake Te Anau to the official start of the track at a set of control gates on the Waiau River. This section passed through a wildlife sanctuary home to the rare Takahe and other native birds found on the track. Past the control gates the track hugged the banks of Lake Te Anau through to Brod Bay. From here we rose quickly for a good solid two hours through some great Beech Forest and past a series of limestone cliffs. After emerging from the treeline it was a further 45 minutes through to Mt Luxmore Hut. The views of the Southern Fiord of Lake Te Anau, back to the town and over to Lake Manapouri were stunning.

Day two: We woke to a crystal clear morning looking out over some low hanging cloud that blanketed the Southern Fiord below. Another good solid climb of about 400 metres in altitude gain and we reached the summit of Mt Luxmore and the highest point of the track 1472m. Below the Southern Fiord kept opening up and the track back to the Hut and beyond across a never ending ridge was clearly visible. Stunning weather followed us over the Alpine section of the track with views deep into Southern Fiordland. After completing the alpine section of the walk, a thigh crunching decent through thick beech forest had us at our campsite back in the bush outside the Iris Burn hut.

Day three: More good weather for a sedate walk meandering along the banks of the Iris Burn. The day passed through more beech forest and crossed numerous streams before we had our first glimpse of Lake Manapouri. From here it was a short stroll along the banks to the Moturau Hut, which had stunning views of the Lake. So good in fact we went for a dip!!

Day Four: We woke early and pushed the pace back to the control gates. After leaving Lake Manapouri we followed the Waiau River back to the beginning of the track and onto Te Anau and our parked car.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Dual

3 hour 50 minutes, 7th place, 1103m altitude gain

Wet and windy conditions for The Dual. Novel to catch a ferry to the start line at Home Bay. A steep climb started the race before crossing through farmland at the southern end of Motutapu Island. A nice descent at the 8k mark lead to the causeway where we crossed over to Rangitoto Island. Some nice packed trails enabled me to pick up the speed before easing off and climbing to the summit of Rangitoto. Stretched the legs back down to sea level then hit a very technical 4k section along the edge of the island. Back to the causeway across to Motutapu and headed straight up and in the direction of the Northern tip. A series of three solid climbs which were tough into the wind, the terrain now more farmland and 4 x 4 tracks. Back behind the finish line at the 32k mark a solid climb to the 36k mark then back down to sea level. The final four k headed to the highest point on Motutapu island including a never ending series of ups and downs. The finish line was at the end of a short and sharp downhill.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Opua Walkway

Great little adventure behind Paihia. Five minute run along school road brings you to the start of the Opua Bush Walk. The track from here is well formed and gradually climbs for a good 15 minutes before emerging from the bush to give fantastic views down to Paihia, the Treaty Grounds, Russell and even over to Opua. A well formed but less manicured track then extends through to Oromahoe Road and the main road into Paihia itself. Lovely bush on an undulating track with occasional views over to Opua.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cooks Cove Walkway, Tolaga Bay

A short run of around an hour through some coastal bush, farmland and beach scenery. The track climbs steeply from the carpark through farmland before reaching a viewpoint looking down on Tolaga Bay and Cooks Cove. Next is a great section through bush on a well-formed track eventually emerging on the beach next to the so-called hole in the rock. A short run north leads to Cooks Cove and south to a monument for Captain Cook marking his landing in the Cove. We then retraced our steps back to the carpark along the same track.

Ruapane Track, Waikaremoana-674m Altitude Gain

Stunning run on the Ruapane Track, plenty of wetlands and a visit to the crystal clear waters of Lake Waikareiti. The track climbs steeply from the Aniwaniwa visitors center on a well formed track to emerge at Lake Waikareiti. Then skirting the eastern bank of the lake before veering down into the bush and past the first of seven wetlands. Beautiful running, with stunning single track all the way. On reaching Lake Ruapane the track descended and returned to the visitors center with occasional views of Lake Waikaremoana and the Hawkes Bay.

Lake Waikaremoana-Hopuruahine to Tapuaenui Campground

A flat run from Hopuruahine landing through to Tapuaenui campground. Nice start crossing the Hopuruahine river via the Hopuruahine suspension bridge then through some head high grass and Toi Toi and emerging lakeside. Then a series of undulations and stream crossings before reaching Whanganui Hut. The track then hugged the lake, with plenty of crystal clear water and tiny bays. On reaching the campground we re-traced our steps back to the car.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Panekire Bluff, Lake Waikaremoana

Lake Waikaremoana, 3 hours 22 running time, 1025 altitude gain.

Starting from the Onepoto end of the Great Walk the climb begins immediately through some classic NZ bush. The track hugs the cliff all the way to Panekire Bluff giving the occasional view to the lake below. We reached the Bluff viewpoint in under and hour and were rewarded with stunning views. The next section undulated to Panekire Hut, providing the occasional view of the Hawkes Bay and also of the inlets that the remainder of the Waikaremoana track hugs. The return journey retracing our steps took 45 minutes less.

Redwoods Rotorua

Redwoods Forest, 4 hours running time, 1274m altitude gain.

34K run through Redwoods Forest, a good mix of single track and forestry roads. The track wound up behind the visitors center through actual Redwoods on single track giving views over Rotorua and the lake (shame it was bucketing with rain). Then headed along forestry road in the direction of the Blue Lake, the final stretch before we hit the lake was a stunning trail, we then headed along the northern bank of the Green Lake. The final stretch back to the start was a tad monotonous but did finish with a great section of single trail intertwined with the extensive Mt Bike trails.