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Seven go hiking

Geoff Cobb and six intrepid fellow members of the Gisborne Canoe and Tramping Club set off for a day hike on the Landcorp Parikanapa, Hukanui Block inland from Tiniroto late in March, just before the country went into lockdown. Great views were promised and the option of a hike up to the trig . . .

This was a walk of two parts, the base circuit of about 11.5 km, and the expedition to the trig that never was. More of that anon.

On the day, after a bit of yo-yoing of numbers as the dreaded Covid-19 saga worsened, seven of us turned up and headed for the hills. I love this area for its amazing views that seem to go on for ever, and driving along Parikanapa Road gave us a foretaste of what was to come.

The first leg was downhill to cross the main creek through the property as the sun came out. On the recce I had been taken down here by the manager in his ATV, but as I usually find, walking it is an entirely different experience and I had to keep checking my GPS tracker as I did not recognise much of it, or how pretty it was.

I had warned those coming that there was a lot of up and down, and now came the first up, steep in places. But of course, climbing has its compensations, as the views began opening up. After the climb, and morning tea looking across at our next ascent, we went down and, you've guessed it, up.

Towards the top a few spits of rain came, but soon ceased and that was it for the day, as it alternated sun and cloud, with a frisky wind up high. But it was not cold — in fact ideal walking conditions. We now descended again to a body of water where we debated whether it was a pond or lake. Whatever, it had a number of birds swimming around on it, identified by Geoff (the “birdman” to distinguish him from the distinctly bird un-knowledgeable leader).

The elusive trig

Of course we now had to go up, and then down, collecting mushrooms on the way, to where, I confidently told the group, those who wanted could go up to the trig.

Three of us ended up making the attempt, and we left the rest to find shade and lunch. On my recce I had not actually got to the trig, finding myself on a knoll, and faced with having to descend and re-ascend to where I was sure I could see it, turned back. I had, though, noted what seemed to be a very good farm track that went close to it. This we now followed, but somehow that trig seemed very elusive. I tried checking on the GPS, but could not make out any trig near us, though the sun was so bright that it was difficult to see the screen. I had estimated it was about 3km there and back, so was allowing an hour all up, so as the half hour neared decided we should turn back. Judy, however, was of sterner stuff, and forged ahead — “just around the corner”. We settled for a nearby “phantom trig” lookout point where the views were magnificent, and when we eventually did give up and return, felt it had still been worth it.

Afterwards I was able to check on the topo map against where we went, and found to my utter chagrin that we had gone in precisely the wrong direction. Clearly I had been hallucinating on the recce — and there had not even been any mushrooms then. I would say that, having seen the country where the trig is, we would never have made it. I have noted it for a future trip, probably from Parikanapa Station itself.

With muttered excuses for our trig failure — wind blowing it away (Judy's), or lack of time due to mad mushroomers (mine) — we rejoined the rest who had found a lovely lunch spot. Then it was homeward, for another picturesque crossing of the main creek, before a long final ascent (those views again). I had actually missed a gate and got on the wrong side of the fence, so we took a different route from my recce, but for once got it right, taking an alternative I had noted as being a possible way of avoiding a dreaded down-up. Still, I was relieved when we did hit the final home kilometre or so, dodging the massed sheep at the woolshed.

A great day and a welcome relief from a world going mad. Who would have thought that four days later we would be in lockdown.

On the trip were Shirley Long, Raewyn Bielski, Raewynn and Geoff Foreman, Linda Wiseman, Judy Evans and Geoff Cobb, leader.

THE TRIG THAT WASN'T: Hike leader Geoff Cobb was keen to make it to the trig he had seen on a recce before a planned tramping trip on farmland off the Parikanapa Road. In the end he and two fellow hikers had to settle for a 'phantom trig', but the views were still spectacular.
LUNCH BREAK: a poplar provided good shade for the walkers when they stopped to have a bite to eat.
DISCUSSION: The hikers debated whether this body of water was a lake or a pond.
GOING UP: There were plenty of ups and downs on the rugged farmland.
RIVER CROSSING: The group prepares to cross the main creek.