Te Hapu - sim­plic­ity amongst spendour

The pull of Te Hapu is strong.

Walking New Zealand - - Front Page - By Dianne McKin­non

Its re­mote and rugged land­scape has cut deeply into the heart of many a wilder­ness seeker who has ven­tured be­yond the gen­tle edges of the Whanganui Inlet.

An hour of twist­ing gravel roads skirt­ing the shore­line through the Kahu­rangi For­est brings some prepa­ra­tion for the remoteness of this walk­ing haven on the wild west coast at the top of the South Is­land.

For Te Hapu is just that – a walk­ers par­adise en­twined around the lives of 1000 acre property own­ers, San­dra and Ken Closs who have run a sheep and cat­tle farm here since 1980. Back­ing onto con­ser­va­tion land of the Kahu­rangi Na­tional Park the abil­ity to freely ex­plore the wild rugged­ness of their sur­round­ings is a real at­trac­tion..

San­dra and Ken have put much thought and en­ergy into es­tab­lish­ing a va­ri­ety of walks on their property, pre­par­ing walk cards and maps of each one, as well as pro­vid­ing rus­tic, cosy ac­com­mo­da­tion to sup­port it, al­low­ing many sin­gle day walks from a com­fort­able base (“sim­plic­ity amongst splen­dour”, one guest com­mented).

Their com­pi­la­tion of his­toric ma­te­rial avail­able in the cot­tage ac­com­mo­da­tion pro­vides an in­sight into the area.

Orig­i­nally part of the green­stone trail south for Maori, the name Te Hapu refers to the small lime­stone pil­lars stand­ing at Te Hapu Bay – like a fam­ily; Te Hapu mean­ing fam­ily or sub-tribe.

Nowa­days many lit­tle sub-tribes of Rom­ney and Marino sheep as well as

Here­ford and An­gus cat­tle, graze these fer­tiliser-free hills where old-fash­ioned ro­ta­tion en­sures ad­e­quate feed.

It is the abil­ity to wan­der amongst these res­i­dents on hill­top or coastal edges, as well as through the ad­join­ing vir­gin podocarp rain­for­est, which makes this place so at­trac­tive. But with steep, ex­posed cliffs, and slip­pery wet lime­stone sur­faces, ex­tra cau­tion is re­quired.

Tak­ing the smaller lo­cal walks ini­tially, is a good way to be­come fa­mil­iar with the ter­ri­tory and to ori­en­tate yourself to its remoteness, al­low­ing ap­pre­hen­sion to give way to ap­pre­ci­a­tion, for this area is wild!

Along the shore­line, crevasses, eerie with the pound­ing and roar­ing of the sea surg­ing be­low, cre­ate drama when a blow hole erupts within feet of the gap you’ve just leapt over, while grass-cov­ered ar­eas per­tain to il­lu­sional safety.

High stock losses are com­pre­hendible with se­creted lime­stone caves within this labyrinth of an­cient rock­ery, and drop­aways fre­quent­ing the free-ranged coast­line.

Along the hills, skirt­ing gul­lies, cross­ing swamps or head­ing to­wards lime­stone out­crops brings re­wards of sweep­ing views to­wards an ocean of­ten heav­ing and thrash­ing onto rocks or peb­bly beaches far be­low.

Huge wave swells and white-wa­ter spray worked up by the re­lent­less force of the Spring winds of Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber bring at­mos­phere and un­der­stand­ing of the pros­trate na­ture of its scrub­land pock­ets. Lone Nikaus sway and spin while kanuka bends to the forces that con­trol it.

But the buf­fet­ing re­lent­less winds of some spring days of­ten give way to calm blue seas which flop lazily upon the shores of the many lit­tle bays which dot this coast.

Fos­sil hunters revel in the unique rock for­ma­tions, while div­ing for paua, surf swim­ming, fish­ing, ex­plor­ing low-tide rock pools, plus seal and whale watch­ing pro­vide a host of na­ture’s op­por­tu­ni­ties to sup­ple­ment the walk­ing that abounds.

Des­ig­nated walks vary from half an hour to a full day. The main walk starts at the wool­shed be­hind the chalet ac­com­mo­da­tion (fam­ily in­vite vis­i­tors to

Be­low left: Te Hapa farm­land melts into the sea.

Above left: The road into Te Hapu, through Kahu­rangi Na­tional Park. Above: Tur­tle Cove -mi­nus tur­tles.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.