20170215 01979Hikers 1, Aongatete Long Loop, 15 February 2017.

This time our group of eleven walked the track clockwise - previously we did it anti-clockwise. The first half or so is a steady climb on a fairly good track with not too many tree roots to avoid tripping over.

Thankfully only the first 100 metres or so is in the open; the rest is in the bush, so while we were hot, we weren't cooked by the sun. There are many signs of the baiting and trapping going on to restore the native bird life in the area. The change in the track after the climb was fairly abrupt. There are many more tree roots to negotiate.

After a couple of small dips it was down a steep slope to the first stream crossing. The climb out of the gully was steep, with rocks and tree roots to negotiate. The rest of the track is essentially downwards, but this side is not in such good condition with more roots and a couple of fallen trees to crawl under or go around.

After two more similar stream crossings (photo 16 & 18), the second of which (photo 18) was the most difficult with slippery rocks in the stream and difficult egress, we reached the confluence with the Short Loop Track. It was good to see the undergrowth in the bush, meaning few or no browsing animals. Many young coprosma spathulata were seen beside the track (photo 2). In one place a couple of intriguing young waekura (umbrella fern, sticherus cunninghamii, photo 15) were beside the track. The beautiful shiny blue berries of the native lilly turutu (dianella nigra, photo 10) made us smile happily. A number of significant trees are visible from the track including totara, puriri, kamahi and pukatea. A very tall nikau palm was noted near the Aongatete Lodge.

Lunch was taken on grass in the shade of trees beside the Lodge, a pleasant end to the hike. Coffee on the way home was at Persimmon Lane, Te Puna Road.

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