Not the Coromandel Great Walk
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 10:13AM
Bill Barclay

With all the hoo-haa that has surrounded Leach's Great Walks proposals, some others get lost in the all the smoke and mirrors.  

I returned last evening from a two-day trip with six companions from the Tapu-Coroglen Road through to Crosbie's Hut, thence home along the ridge and down the Waiotahi.

This is a four to five hour trek the first day, and five to six the second. The first is relatively steep and rough over a little used track, then easy going on the Ridge past the Hut before the drop down into the Waiotahi. This latter section is overgrown in far too many places making for relatively uncomfortable walking. Despite what appears to be fairly regular use, this track, apart from the excellent Ridge section is generally very badly maintained, and shows the financial exigencies that DoC is clearly under.

What is inexcusable though is the total inaccuracy of walk times that are reported on the relatively new signage erected at various way-points. DoC knows well that these times are in most cases false, but have failed to take the necessary action to correct same - all it would take is a pot of paint, and a steady hand.

Some times are up to an hour out, both up and down - now that is dangerous and could well lead to groups or individuals getting lost, or bushed, and this is particularly in regard to times proposed at various places for arriving at the Crosbie's Hut. And it well past the time when their track markers should have been up-graded.

Okay, with that out of the way, let me just say that Crosbie's is magnificent - in a wonderful position with 360 views and great facilities - well worth a visit, and the $15 a night charge. The next magnificent thing to report is the three hour ridge walk - it is without peer in this part of world in my books - all that is missing is the bird-life, though there is evidence of plenty of pigs. Both I put down to the fact that it is at least six years since this part of the country had a 1080 drop - long overdue, and hopefully DoC will get some funding, and balls to get on with the job - the West Coast may be important, but with the concentration of effort down there over the next few months, other areas may completely miss out. 

The Waiotahi is frankly a disgrace - completely overgrown in places with gorse and other nasties. It is apparently the best access on offer, but unless DoC are prepared to spend some money doing this up, we can forget about Crosbie's reaching its full potential. It is hard to believe , but the Waiotahi access provides not a skerrich of signage about Crosbie's - simply a sign on a broken down gate about Do Not Drop Rubbish, and an old information board about various tracks on the Peninsula. Maybe the Karaka has better signage. 

The other option lies in my view in the development of the Victoria St. Extension access - the road reaches a far higher altitude and would provide a 4 hour max. access to Crosbies. This would make it far more attractive to local and tourist alike. But it would require some imaginative planning (and expenditure) by TCDC to provide a turnaround and parking near the top of the Extension where the road has been fenced and gated by some unfriendly foreigner - access to the track lies below the road. Signage up on the junction with the Ridge track warns against use of the Victoria access though others who have used it tell me it is okay, as well as being an hour shorter than Waiotahi. 

I believe that this track could be upgraded for comfortable walking to a far higher standard than Waiotahi, but will stand corrected should any commenter have better information than I. Whatever the case, something needs to be done and quickly to open up the magnificent ridge and Hut to more walkers. I know that the denizens of the Kaueranga Tramping Club favour opening the Victoria St Access and I cannot help but agree with them. They have written to TCDC in the past, but I not sure of the outcome. A little balance in the expenditure of the $2m allowed for in the Annual Plan for the Great Walks may be in order even if it runs against the grain of our erstwhile Mayor.   

I am a little embarrassed to report the make-up of our party of seven - let us just say that while it included an American, a Brit and four kiwis, it suffered from a gender imbalance which resulted in me feeling somewhat out-numbered, but I was able to grin and bear it. Ho-hum! Let me just say that I have a surfeit of stories, but my lips are sealed!




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