The Hillary Trail is the outdoor adventure tour in the Waitakere Ranges.
Since January in 2010 existing tracks and park campsites were connected to one long adventure tour of four days and three nights. The track totals a distance of about seventy kilometres through the Waitakeres.
Winding up and down, through bush and rainforest or on top of ridges along the coast, past an inland sand dune along well maintained walkways, and less walked paths over roots and after a rainy period mud slides and ankle deep mud pits with little choice but to walk through. Altogether a track designed to embody the values Sir Edmund Hillary treasured: adventure and personal achievement in this sense the track challenges even experienced trampers.
The delights of this outdoor adventure tour are sweeping views over the Manukau Harbour, Manukau mouth, the Tasman Sea and the beaches Huia, Whatipu, Karekare, Anawhata, Piha, Bethells and Muriwai. Choosing the Te Henga Walkway holds as a special treat the liberating view along the whole length of Auckland’s west coastline.
Since the opening date on the 11th January in 2010 each year this adventurous journey is undertaken by a group of young people in memory of the day the world famous explorer, adventurer and philanthropist Sir Edmund Hillary died. These young people are part of an international award program to further voluntary self development, "The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award". Introduced in 1956, it spread into 130 countries all over the world.
Under the Governor-General, Sir Bernard Fergusson the "Duke of Edinburgh’s Award" was adopted by New Zealand in 1963. Wellington, is the base of the National Award Authority, a further office is in Auckland. The chosen name there was "Auckland Challenge". In August 2009 the new name was launched: "The Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Award".
The name varies but the values remain. The idea is to encourage young people to further self development in a broader spectrum so each stage of the award is based on skill, an adventurous journey, service to the community and physical recreation at gold level a residential project is added. The amount of effort put in increases with the levels bronze, silver and gold of the award. Young people taking part in this program grow their personalities, strengthen their self belief and self confidence, heighten their awareness of their own potential, gain friends, and life skills just to name a few personal rewards.
Four groups gathered in 2012 on the 11th January at the Arataki
Centre to commence their outdoor adventure along the Hillary Trail.
The groups consisted of one mixed group, bronze, silver and gold award participients. The youngest tramper in the mixed group was just seven years old. They joined for the first day with the ending point at the Karamatura Campground. Here the three remaining groups spent their night with their tents pitched up on the meadow aside the Karamatura Stream.
The second group, the bronze participants carried on the second day to Whatipu where they were picked up. The silver group had still to climb up Gibbons Track and to wander down Muir Track to pitch up their tents in Paraha Valley for the second night. Their pick up point at the end of a three day adventure tour was Craw Campground on Anawhata Road. Where the gold group spent their third night.
From here the gold group had taken off the following morning to hike via the Anawhata Valley passing Lake Wainamu and the inland sand dune along the Waiti Stream to the Te Henga Walkway along the ridge that looks across the Tasman Sea and opens views to north and south along the west coast. The gannet colony at Muriwai finalized the outdoor adventure tour.
Very mixed weather during past days and weeks left the Slip Track doing its name justice, while Pipeline Track and Hamilton Track developed into pure mud slides where often was no way around angle deep mud pits that challenged more than once to keep the balance, especially those who carried packs packed for three nights and four days. Though some nice views could be caught along the track. High spirited all four groups reached their first day’s goal.
On the second day the groups faced a steep ascend following the Karamatura Track. The memory game 'I a m going to the moon and bringing matches what are you going to bring?' took their minds of the path lying ahead ;) so everyone made it and enjoyed the views on the MT Donald Mc Lean look out. Here the second group reached proudly the end of their tour.
The subsequent days were still very mixed weather wise. I do hope the silver and gold group kept up their spirits and could fully enjoy their outdoor adventure tour.
The campsites for this outdoor adventure tour are bookable:
By phone 09 366 2000 or at the Arataki Visitor Centre.
To download Trail booklet and map visit the ARC site.
Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Award National Award Authority in Wellington.