The Hillary Trail: Week 1 – The Montana Heritage Trail

Yesterday morning, I hopped into my car with my brand new hiking boots, my bag with water and my camera, and a walking stick and headed off to the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. The weather was pretty good, but there was rain in the area.  It took about a half hour to get there, and once there, I got packed and ready.

I started at 8:35 am.

The Montana Heritage Trail is a loop track that encompasses four trails:

When entering and leaving the area, you need to clean your shoes to prevent Kauri dieback, this is rather important I come to find, and even now at home, I need to scrub my hiking boots to keep them clean, especially after this weekend.

The Auckland City Walk sounds exactly what you expect. It is a pretty cool and easy walk along a stream. I saw the turnoff for the Upper Kauri Track, which would take me in a counterclockwise direction on the track. I decided I wanted to end on the Kauri Track, so I went onwards to the Fence Line Track. Now this track… is pretty much uphill. It was steep enough that it became a series of stairs. It was pretty tough honestly! Like, I am in the middle of the woods, and then, there are like 400 steps in between various switchbacks. Give me a steady incline, and I am awesome. Flights and flights of stairs suck.

Flights and flights of stairs suck.

The weather up to this point is good. Warm enough to take off my jacket and put it in the bag, it was nice!

I made it to the top of the mountain and started to descend. Making my way down a little to the Waitakere Reservoir. Just as I get to the Reservoir, it begins to rain. I stopped and pulled out my coat, and put it on, and just as I was getting on my way again, it starts pouring. Luckily, these walks have been pretty covered by massive trees, so I am not getting too wet, but suddenly, I am faced with an exposed levy to cross.


I am glad I invested in some waterproof stuff. LOL

The ground at this point is fairly muddly, with puddles in footprints… very Jurassic Park. My boots are quite muddy at this point, and I know that I need to scrub them later on. I hit the Long Road Track, and this is where things get really challenging. The Long Road is pretty much an old dirt road, and it feels pretty much only used for walking, and maybe occasional vehicles trying to get near the reservoir.  It was so muddy, and not wanting to go off track (again, warnings of Kauri dieback in my head), I trudged through. There was about a 500-meter span where it was just… very muddy. It was fun but exhausting. I am so glad I had my walking stick. It suddenly came in handy.

My boots… were amazing. I have to say.

The Rain stopped after about 10 minutes and then was off and on for the rest of the walk. It was nice, and it kinda hit home the reality that yes… I will often be walking in the rain, so… let’s get used to it now.

Finally, I made it to the bottom of the Upper Kauri Track. And began to pass through the Kauri Stand. It was quite beautiful, and it is amazing to think that some of these oldest trees could predate human civilization in New Zealand. They were protected initially because these trees were cut down after European settlement for their lumber to export around the world. By the 1920’s conservation efforts were underway to protect the last remaining large areas of the trees, since the Kauri trees grow and regenerate so slowly. Now, they are being protected by disease.

Whenever I walk in New Zealand, away from people, I feel like I step back in time. Seeing so many Ferns everywhere just naturally growing feels exotic and different. It is like walking into a movie. And while I know that is cliched, it is just great to stop and look at the wonder of the ranges.

The Long Road and the  Upper Kauri Track slowly ascend to a point, and then the last part of the Upper Kauri Track is a lot of steps downward. Again, my walking stick came in handy. Even with the stairs, it was nice to have a little extra stability. Eventually, I returned to the starting point, and I checked my Fitbit, and remarked that instead of 8kms, I went 12 kms. I did feel the distance though. I ended at around 11:15, so I went around 2 hours and 45 mintues.

Overall I really enjoyed the walk. It was a little more of a challenge that I expected, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I also pushed myself pretty hard so I know I can slow a bit too. I was very exhausted afterward, and during the walk, I swore I could feel my body switching modes from burning food I ate last night, with my fat. I am going to have to look at eating a little more the night before these big walks. That is going to be a challenge I suspect.

The Weather for this week looks grim, with rain for each day to at least Wednesday. This makes me nervous about another Waitakere walk for Saturday. However, I have found a couple of great Tramping blogs for the area, so I hope to find a pretty good track for next weekend.

See you next week!



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