My Favourite Walk: Coro­man­del’s Long Bay Kauri Loop walk

Walking New Zealand - - Contents - By Vi­vianne Flintoff

The 40-minute Long Bay Kauri Loop walk on the Coro­man­del Penin­sula also takes in the Tucks Bay Coastal Track. This walk is one of my usual morn­ing routes. The walk’s be­gin­ning and end­ing is lo­cated within the Long Bay camp­ground which is some three kilo­me­tres west of the Coro­man­del town­ship.

There is a pub­lic carpark along the shore line which is clearly marked. A sign be­yond the carpark warns the pub­lic that the area ahead is des­ig­nated for of­fi­cial campers. Al­though the sign at the en­trance to the camp­site says to re­port to the of­fice, walk­ers are not re­quired to do so.

The loop track be­gins with ei­ther the coastal walk to Tucks Bay or with the bush track, which winds uphill through nikau, tree ferns, karaka, puriri, re­warewa groves of young kauri, passes a 330-year-old kauri, and other indige­nous shrubs and trees.

There are a num­ber of us who walk this track most morn­ings, and al­though my walk is soli­tary, I usu­ally meet some­one I know, ac­com­pa­nied by their dog or dogs. Dogs are not al­lowed on the kauri bush walk, but are wel­come on the road and the coastal walk. Dur­ing sum­mer, dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.

To be­gin at the bush track end, look for the fish clean­ing area be­hind which is the boot clean­ing sta­tion. Once my boots are clean, I be­gin the grad­ual uphill climb. Oc­ca­sion­ally, I stop to ad­mire the trees, lis­ten to the still­ness and the bird song.

If there has been rain, the small creek will be run­ning and pro­vides a back­ground melody to the birds. Af­ter five min­utes, the first grove of young kauri, or rick­ers – so called be­cause of their use as spas on sail­ing ships – is reached.

Here a wooden board walk has been cre­ated to pre­vent dam­age to the sur­face dwelling kauri roots. The track con­tin­ues to climb gently, crosses the small stream then ahead, to the left, is the an­cient kauri. It stands solidly and ma­jes­ti­cally among the many young trees with nikau and tree ferns pro­vid­ing a green court.

Walk­ers can no longer hug this king, as a wooden plat­form and bar­rier has been erected to pro­tect the tree. In the quiet of the morn­ing, I lean against the

bar­rier and wish the tree health and longevity.

A few min­utes later, I reach the high­est point of the walk and the sec­ond grove of young kauri. Last year, a wooden walk­way was erected with a me­mo­rial seat to the side, cre­at­ing a rest place and look­out. I glimpse the Coro­man­del Har­bour – with moored boats and the Ruffins Bay rocks - to the left be­yond the trees, and the Hau­raki Gulf to the right.

The track – still well met­alled and two-per­son width - now be­gins to slope down­wards and again the go­ing is gen­tle. There are some slight ups and downs as I con­tinue along the track, be­fore glimps­ing the sec­ond boot clean­ing sta­tion and the gravel road be­yond.

If I turn left, the road will take me be­neath large puriri, karaka and tree ferns, back to the Long Bay mo­tor camp. I turn right in­stead to head down the road to the Tucks Bay camp­site, which has a grassed area, one cold wa­ter tap, and two com­post toi­lets for the hardy campers that fre­quent this bay dur­ing the warmer months.

The grassed area is sur­rounded by tall po­hutukawa trees and the lit­tle bay is ablaze with red when the trees are in flower.

Tucks Bay is a small bay with a lit­tle sand and grey peb­bly stones. While it could be pos­si­ble to launch a small mo­tor boat at high tide, most campers in this bay, launch kayaks rather than mo­tor boats. (Mo­tor boats are usu­ally launched from the con­crete slip­way in Long Bay.)

Once I have crossed through the camp ground, the coast walk back to Long Bay be­gins.

A new track has been forged at the

be­gin­ning of the coast walk as ero­sion has been se­vere over the past two years with hefty west­erly winds driv­ing heavy seas against the shore­line.

As the track winds slowly uphill, large po­hutukawa block some of the view down to the wa­ter and rocks. The track is nar­row here, and most of the metal has washed away dur­ing the nu­mer­ous, heavy win­ter down­pours the Coro­man­del penin­sula is renowned for. Care is needed to avoid fall­ing onto the oys­ter-clad rocks.

As I move fur­ther uphill, I spot the look­out site, again with a bar­rier, this time to stop walk­ers from fall­ing on to the rocks. At full-tide, with a high sun and clear wa­ter, the oys­ter shells on the rocks, re­mind me of the sub­merged coral reefs of my child­hood days in Fiji.

On morn­ings when the con­di­tions are such, I spend long mo­ments look­ing down onto the rocks, mar­vel­ling at the beauty be­low. When I raise my eyes, and look out across the wa­ter, a group of is­lands is vis­i­ble, some bush-clad, oth­ers clothed in green farm­ing pas­ture. Be­tween the coast walk and the is­lands, are the black mus­sel floats of sev­eral mus­sel farms.

On a very still morn­ing, mu­sic can be heard drift­ing ashore as the men work the mus­sel ropes. Each morn­ing, I hope to see a pod of dol­phins, or even an orca, but I am told these are more likely to be ar­rive around dusk.

From the look­out, I head down a slightly wider, mostly met­alled path. Above, po­hutukawa in­ter­spersed with ra­di­ata pine, cling to the hill-side and be­low me, po­hutukawa dom­i­nate. I pass a track worn by hope­ful fish­ers who clus­ter on the rocks be­low to greet the fish as they re-en­ter Long Bay on the in­com­ing tide.

The path con­tin­ues un­til it reaches a wild plum tree on the right and the camp site on the left. A low white, wooden fence keeps coastal track walk­ers to the grassed area be­tween shore-line and

camp-site. When the tide al­lows, it is pos­si­ble to climb down onto the beach and walk the fi­nal part of the track along the sand to the pub­lic carpark and the end of the walk.

Above: left: A di­verted path. Be­low left” A soli­tary camper at Tucks Bay.

Coro­man­del’s Long Bay Kauri Loop Walk

Above: left: The track to Tucks Bay. Be­low left: The board­walk through young kauri Be­low right: Joanna with her dog.

Above: The look­out show­ing is­land in the Coro­man­del. Be­low: A boot clean­ing sta­tion

Above: left: The road be­tween Long Bay and Tucks Bay. Be­low: The largest kauri in the bush.

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