Yesterday we went to the Waitakere ranges.
We took the train (Western line) to Swanson. This is one stop short of the terminus at Waitakere, but trains don’t run to Waitakere on Sundays, and after the imminent electrification of the line, this will become permanent: there is a tunnel between Swanson and Waitakere which is too small to double-track or electrify and too expensive to enlarge.
It was a beautiful day, though the trails were very wet and muddy after the recent rain. The mountains are only a little over 300 metres, but after a gentle start they slope up more and more steeply as you approach from the east, so no roads from Swanson reach the scenic drive along the top, and the last bit of track is quite challenging. The view from the top was quite remarkable.
On the way down, we passed many fine kauri trees. These are currently threatened by kauri dieback disease, and trampers are instructed to scrub their boots and spray them with disinfectant before walking these trails. I hope that we didn’t spread the disease; this was our first trip to the country since our arrival, and our boots hadn’t been bought last time we were in this country. Any residual British mud was probably fairly benign.
The greatest joy of the forest for me was the birdsong, especially tui. This is still new enough for me that I stop and listen when I hear a tui getting into its stride. There are some on the university campus, competing with traffic noise, and also with the local common mynas which seem to have learned to copy tui (among other sounds). In the forest, they compete only with other birdsong, and the effect, among the magnificent trees, is remarkable. But I’m afraid I can’t share it here.
Back in Swanson, we had a very good and leisurely lunch at the Station Café before catching the train back to town.