Author: Jeremy Chirnside Group Members: Craig Smith (Leader), Andy Baddeley, Jeremy Chirnside, Kat Collier, Nathan Gortersmith, Matt Molloy, Joseph Nelson
Date: 18th January, 2008
The morning started well with the ever present parking wardens ensuring Craig would never park in the wrong place early on a Saturday morning again. After arriving at the Karangahake Gorge barely100m into the trip it became clear I was on a climbing trip cleverly disguised as a tramping trip, where upon reaching our first swing bridge Andy decided it was time for a bridge traverse. As Andy made it look easy an unnamed member of the party was heard to call ‘you’re soft, do it in the middle of the bridge!’ On reaching the other side of the bridge, gold mining relics were too tempting not to be climbed. Eventually we headed up the gorge and after a strenuous 20 minute hike up the gorge we reached the windows and explored the old gold mining tunnels. After this we stumbled on a cave with DOC issue ‘Do not enter’ and “Danger’ signs and a locked gate blocking the entrance, however we were not to be defeated as the other hidden entrance was not signposted. A quick bash along an overgrown track would take us to the other entrance, however most took the logical option of climbing straight up a pipeline; much shorter. We explored the cave with its rotten wooden supports barely holding up the low ceiling and discovered a ledge with a 3m drop into a pool, so the logical thing to do was to throw rocks into this pool and try and create the biggest splash. The rocks evolved into boulders until the largest one required two people to throw it, needless to say the splash came all the way back up and got us.
The afternoon was spent swimming, diving, more impromptu rock climbing out of the swimming holes and some abseiling out of the windows in the mining tunnels before we embarked on the tiring 20 minute walk back out. As the afternoon went on we realised we hadn’t seen two of our party for a while and thought we should go looking for them, however they turned up having overshot the entrance to the cave and instead taking a three hour walk up the valley. On our return we stopped at the Paeroa Domain for fish and chips, a shopping trolley sat on top of the mound asking to be made use of. After brave high speed circuits of the concrete paths in the park, and a small local road, and one minor crash, the logical solution was to see how many people we could fit into it; the answer was all seven of us. Like all trampers we like to make use of all available daylight and Andy set up a slack line between two trees, which we all attempted to traverse. The local youths cruising the park appeared interested and decided to give it a go; however based on their attempts it was clearly not L&P in the L&P bottle they were swilling from. As darkness descended on Paeroa it was finally time to return to Auckland.