Thursday 5 October 2023

Camping at Pae o te Rangi

Last weekend, Martin and I had a 5-day break at the Pae o te Rangi campground in the Cascades area of the Waitakere Ranges, near-ish to Te Henga/Bethell's Beach.

We caught the train to Swanson then got on our bikes - as you can see, it had some steep bits!

Biking up the first steep bit, to Waitakere township.  I forgot to take my asthma inhaler when I first got on the train (it takes 30 minutes or so to kick in), so I was struggling with asthma up this bit and Martin had to take over my bike a little before the top.

the gradient of the route as a whole

We'd chosen this route in (rather than the default route on Google maps, which is via. Long Rd) as that way had a very steep climb right at the end.  Instead, we were entering off Te Henga Rd, which would give us 1.3km of gradually rising gravel road across the Pae o te Rangi farm.  This turned out to likely not have been a good choice!  It took us about an hour and a half to get to the farm gate, followed by another hour and a half across the farm to the campsite!

The gate at the farm entrance wasn't really set up for bikes!

The path was occasionally gravel, but mostly just muddy ruts across the farm.  We rode hardly any of it, and eventually I couldn't even push my bike and left it to Martin to do both :-(

A gravel bit!  But around this area there was also one super-inquisitive cattlebeast that kept wanting to rub its face on our panniers, which wasn't ideal.

Taken on a walk later in the weekend, this shows a lot of the route across the farm.  The campsite is still a little behind/above us at this point; our starting point was on the road where you can see the greyish stand of poplars in the centre of the image.

Finally there!  It was a pretty cold and windy weekend (hence the raincoat and double beanie), but it was so good to get away!

Our wee set-up.  The picnic table is on a concrete pad, which was nice.  It kept the mud down, and was also a good place to put the gas cooker out of the wind.

Looking up towards the toilet.  We reckon we could put a couple of hammocks in these trees if we came back in the summer :-)

More of the campsite

My favourite view from the campsite, looking back towards Te Henga Rd.

It was a really good weekend away.  We had the campsite completely to ourselves most of the time.  On the Sunday morning we saw a couple of guys doing the Pae o te Rangi disc golf course (which goes all over the farm the campsite is in, including looping around the campsite itself).  It was impressive how far they could throw the discs!  We'd earlier found a few discs people had lost around the perimeter of the campsite and had fun throwing them to each other, but these people were throwing with their whole bodies and got much more impressive results!  Other than them the only other people we saw the whole weekend were a man and his young son who stayed at the campsite on the Sunday night.

We had thought to bike to Te Henga/Bethell's Beach on the Saturday (maybe around 45 minutes each way), but instead we stayed holed up in the tent listening to an audio book.  It was super windy!

It was remarkable how well our flimsy tent blocked the wind, though.  So long as everything was well battened down there was next to no draught inside.

Saturday's glorious sunset :-)

On the Sunday morning we sung some hymns together, accompanied by Martin's tiny plastic ukelele (which was a bit of a challenge to play - he's also got a larger and less plastic one that he's much more used to now).

Later in the day we went for a wander around the farm.

I'd been surprised to find that the disc golf course was a lot like a regular golf course - complete with 'tees' of fake grass on concrete.

The goals were baskets with a bunch of chains dangling above them - presumably to absorb the momentum as the disc hits into them.

It was my birthday on the Friday, so we brought some sparklers to celebrate with - although it wasn't until Sunday that the wind calmed down enough that it felt like it might be nice to be 'out' after dark :-)

And then on the Monday it was off home.  This time we walked across the farm to the end of Long Road, which took about 25 minutes.

Although shorter, this route also included walking up some steep muddy bits before we got to the road!

The view from more-or-less the highest point, just before we headed along and down Long Rd towards Swanson.

 The initial drop (the climb I'd been trying to avoid on the Thursday) was fun :-)

That was followed by a long and steep climb.  I made it up the whole way myself, but only by taking maybe 4-5 'breathers' along the way :-)  While resting one time, I realised that the gravelly verge of the road had a remarkable groundcover: a tough mat of tiny flat circular leaves, each probably 8mm or so across.  Google searching now, I think they might be the male reproductive structures of a liverwort.

We also saw around 4 kererū swooping across the road as we went up :-)

Then it was down the other side to Waitakere township, where we stopped for lunch.

yay for Kāpiti ice creams - all made with Rainforest Alliance certified slave-free cocoa :-)

I came very close to making it to the top of the final climb in one go, but had to stop for a breather just before I got there.  Then it was a short swoop down the other side, onto the train (which we got onto just before it was leaving) and back home.

muddy bikes back in our carport

I was delighted to see our bluebells had just started to flower while we were away :-)

I'm not sure if we'll be back.  It was pretty physically taxing to get there, although I think it'd be a bit easier if we went via. Long Rd in both directions - and there aren't all that many campsites that stay open during the winter season, either.  But it was definitely a really good break - mud and wind and all!  And traveling by train and bike made it a remarkably low-carbon break - only around 30kg CO2e across the two of us (about half what we were responsible for when we caught the ferry to Waiheke)

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