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Taupō walkers: Lake Ōkaro and Two Mile Bay adventures

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Wednesday Walkers

Last week we met at the Two Mile Bay carpark and made our way to the echo chamber that is one of the new passageways beneath Lake Terrace.

After passing through the new shopping complex on our right, we wove our way through the new housing developments, eventually finding ourselves on the pathway by the Taupō-Napier Expressway.

This appears to be a boundary to housing development so far.

Making our way towards The Landing, participants were delighted to discover vintage and other cars from bygone eras parked there.

The attraction of these jalopies lies in their individual characters.

The shapes of modern cars are similar because they are all designed by the same computer programs, which calculate things like the angle of the windscreen, etc.

This does help to reduce petrol consumption when the optimum angle is found, but it does nothing for the style or individuality of each make.

After admiring elegant machines, we made our way back towards Taupō, where another tunnel was used to cross beneath the main road.

Finally, we walked along the shimmering lakefront to our starting position.

Coffees were most welcome and some lucky people indulged their more-than-satisfied taste buds in delicious homemade cake.

Total distance, 7.6 kilometres.

Wednesday Walker Contacts: ph 073773065; email wednesdaywalkers@myyahoo.com.

It was a very soggy lunch stop for Taupō's Monday Walkers.
It was a very soggy lunch stop for Taupō’s Monday Walkers.

Monday Walkers

Raincoats were the order of the day, but it takes more than a shower of rain to dampen our spirits.

We started our walk with a circumnavigation of Lake Ōkaro.

It sounds dramatic, but the track around this little gem is only about 2km long. The lake is stream-fed and bordered by wetland, farmland and quite a few blackberry bushes.

Humans can enjoy waterskiing and trout fishing while waterbirds, including dabchicks/weweia, paradise shelducks/pūtangitangi, and grey teal/tētē have made it their home.

Quite a coup for those involved in environmental remedial work.

Prior to fencing, changes in farming practices and reducing nutrient flow via the recreated wetlands, this lake was regarded as unfit for most wildlife.

We left the lakeside and walked along Okaro Road, across the highway and along a grassy track to an entrance of Te Ara Ahi, New Zealand’s national cycle track.

Here we caught a glimpse of the summit of Maunga Kākaramea, briefly clear of misty clouds, before entering the dark green umbrella of regenerating bush.

Kāmahi is just one well-established species here. Did you know they often have several trunks and can develop as an epiphyte on a tree fern trunk?

The track follows the base of the maunga and is easy and mostly flat walking.

It was a shock to abruptly come out to the light of the clearing, the noise of state highway traffic and a carpark.

From here, the real effort started.

Te Tihi o Ruru, or summit track, is not particularly difficult but there are deeply rutted areas and one does not reach a summit without a bit of climbing and puffing!

A lower lookout is now fenced off, but from a higher-up platform we were able to see into the crater and a patch of forest that is believed to have survived the Tarawera eruption.

Kōkōwai or red ochre coloured some of the crater’s steaming walls; in the past, kōkōwai was traded as a valuable commodity.

On Monday, it coloured sections of the ground along the track – beautiful to look at but also very slippery as the rain drizzled down on it.

Despite the harsh thermal environment, many small bushes, delicate club mosses and a type of tangle fern grew up the banks. There were groves of tree ferns in the higher section.

We reached the Owl’s Perch, or summit, to find the view of Rotorua’s many lakes completely obscured by cloud.

The early birds huddled under the narrow eaves of a building to eat lunch, while the latecomers braved the wet picnic table for a soggier snack.

The walk down was speedier than the walk up, but there were a few elegant slides on the muddier sections.

A great and recommended walk, despite the rain.

Next week we are off to a historic site and a great nature reserve.

If you would like to join us on a Monday, or for more information, please email walkersmondaytaupo@gmail.com.

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