New Zealand Walk: Cape Brett Light­house overnight walk in BOI Walk­ing Fes­ti­val

Walking New Zealand - - Contents - By Brita Marti

At last! I was so ex­cited to ac­tu­ally be go­ing to walk the Cape Track af­ter liv­ing in the area for 25 years, and I was go­ing along with seven other good friends. There were three of us in our 50/60s and five from the gen­er­a­tion be­low. So many years of hear­ing about oth­ers do­ing the walk and, as I work in the tourism in­dus­try, many years of help­ing oth­ers plan the trip.

So the first chal­lenge is to work out the best way to tackle the route for your group and I reckon we chose well. Drive the 45 min­utes from Pai­hia to Rāwhiti via the car ferry and take a wa­ter taxi from there to Deep Wa­ter Cove, leav­ing car safely with Louise and Bob from the wa­ter taxi.

First days walk is from Deep Wa­ter Cove to Cape Brett and stay overnight at the hut there. The sec­ond days walk is the 16 kms from the light­house back to Rāwhiti.

All went very smoothly for us with great plan­ning from var­i­ous mem­bers of our team. We headed off at mid­day by wa­ter taxi with all our gear.

The weather for the whole two days was spec­tac­u­lar and I guess that made the whole trip just that bit more won­der­ful. Bob had lo­cal sto­ries to tell on the 20 minute boat ride in­clud­ing re­mind­ing us that there were seven maunga along the ridge with plenty of ups and downs! Deep Wa­ter Cove was

Cape Brett Light­house overnight walk in BOI Walk­ing Fes­ti­val

so invit­ing that most of us took a swim be­fore we headed off and Jim rem­i­nisced about his last trip there on scout camp 45 years ago when there were still build­ings from Zane Greys camp.

Re­freshed we headed off up­hill #1. As it was the hottest part of the day I was pleas­antly sur­prised that there was a rea­son­able amount of shade, mainly mānuka scrub, un­til we got up to the first of so many spec­tac­u­lar views and our first glimpse of the sea­ward end of the penin­sula – Rākau­mau­na­maunga. Here was bright blue sea, bright blue sky and dec­o­ra­tions of white surf around the rocky coast line.

It was a few more downs, ups, views, streams un­til we reached the high point on the nar­row­est part of the walk and more WOWs - views both sides. Then the start of long de­scent when we thought how lucky we were that the clay path wasn’t wet.

We soon for­got that a long down means a long up later when we caught sight of the Light­house, Motu Kōkako (Piercy Is­land) and the large rock be­tween (I now know that this is called Otuwhanga Is­land) and watched a cou­ple of the char­ter boats head through the Hole in the Rock. More WOWs.

Then our overnight hut comes into sight, still way be­low

and an open grassy walk down but time to en­joy views left and right, as well as think­ing about tak­ing the boots off. Sev­eral of us went for a swim at the land­ing point just be­low the hut where the cur­rent wasn’t too strong.

This area has re­mains from the light­house keeper days with tracks for trans­port­ing all the fam­i­lies needed to live and run the light­house up from the de­liv­ery boats.

The hut is great and our group set­tled into one sec­tion with nine beds. There are two other ar­eas, one with 13 beds / bunks and the other two beds. The hut was full with 23 peo­ple, but plenty of room in the kitchen din­ing area and the fa­cil­i­ties lived up well to our ex­pec­ta­tions.

We heated up ready cooked mince in the pro­vided pots and boiled wa­ter for drinks but were self suf­fi­cient with what we had brought with us for the rest of our meals. We were lucky to have three strong 20s males to carry the ma­jor­ity of the weight. The hut has plenty of books about the days when it was one of three homes for the light­house keep­ers and fam­i­lies. What an in­ter­est­ing life they lead.

As we had such glo­ri­ous weather the in­side of the hut was less im­por­tant. Sun­set was at about 7.45pm and we en­joyed this from a ridge a few min­utes from the hut with such spec­tac­u­lar colours.

Not long af­ter we watched an al­most full moon ris­ing over the wa­ter in the east. This was very spe­cial. Bed called soon af­ter, and I was happy with my sleep sheet and thin blan­ket and imag­ine this would be plenty most of sum­mer. It was also qui­eter on the plas­tic mat­tresses than a sleep­ing bag and eas­ier to cover my head when ‘ that one mos­quito’ started fly­ing around.

We were pleased that we picked the ideal day, just be­fore the clocks went back for au­tumn, mean­ing sun­rise was not too early, just 7.30am.

We en­joyed the walk over to the eastern side to soak up won­der­ful pre sun­rise colours and tex­tures and then the dawn colours. We will have great mem­o­ries of our stay in a very spe­cial place.

An hour or so later it was on again with the boots and slightly lighter packs for our day up and down the maunga (moun­tains) be­gin­ning with the one we knew – the zig zag path from the hut to the light­house and trig point above.

The ups and downs head­ing back along the penin­sula to­wards rawhiti be­gan with views out to the open sea and down as far as the Poor Knights Is­lands, with beau­ti­ful coast­line, beaches and for­est. Mānuka and kānuka scrub turned into more var­ied bush and the odd grove with nīkau palms. Lots of kowhai too, that must look so pretty later in the year and re­minded me of the last time I had walked to Whanga­mumu when kowhai were in spec­tac­u­lar flower.

The lack of flow­ers and berries this time of year must be the rea­son for very few birds in the bush apart from fan­tails and the odd tui and black robin.

Fur­ther down the track the views were more back to­ward the Bay of Is­lands, but ever chang­ing an­gles meant var­ied views of the clos­est is­lands and the dis­tant main­land, but a chance for a quick wave back home.

As the day pro­gressed the odd less steep part gave a chance for chat­ting with each other and as we watched the kilo­me­tre mark­ers progress felt jus­ti­fied in tak­ing a few breaks to top up en­ergy lev­els and just en­joy be­ing where we were.

Af­ter about four and a half hours we were grad­u­ally start­ing to think I don’t want to go down again if it means an­other up but got to the preda­tor fence that we reck­oned was pretty close to the biggest ‘up’ to Puke­huia and more views.

The last hour is pretty much down­hill. Just re­mem­ber if you are think­ing of do­ing the track the re­verse way, end­ing up right at the lovely sandy Oke Bay, this is a won­der­ful way to com­plete the walk with a wel­come swim in such clear and not too cold wa­ter. It is then just a short walk to pick cars up and head home. Mo­tukokako-Is­land-(Piercy-Is­land)/

I loved the walk, be­ing out in the open, the chal­lenge of a re­ally good walk, an amaz­ingly beau­ti­ful part of New Zealand, great com­pany, the ex­pe­ri­ence of Cape Brett overnight and such good weather.

This walk ac­tu­ally com­bines two walks that are on the Bay of Is­lands Walk­ing Week­end walks. The overnight Cape Brett Walk – which is a drop off and pick up from Deep Wa­ter Cover where you stay out at Cape Brett, and the Puke­huia and Whanga­mumu Whal­ing Walk where you start at Rawhiti and climb Puke­huia and make your way to Whanga­mumu. Spec­tac­u­lar views and scenery on th­ese very un­touched walks.

Visit www.boi­walk­ing­week­ for de­tails.

Above: What a view look­ing out over the Pa­cific Ocean. Photo by Alexan­dra Green. Be­low: The view look­ing back over the many is­lands in the Bay of Is­lands area. Photo by Alexan­dra Green.

Above: Cape Brett Light­house. Photo by Alexan­dra Green. Right: Brita Marti and Alexan­dra Green in front of a back­drop of islsands.

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