It was a rare Saturday, in the recent spring school holidays, when my husband and I had an afternoon completely to ourselves, that we headed out to the beautiful native forest in the Orongorongo Valley, in the southern Remutaka Ranges of the North Island of New Zealand. It’s not that we don’t walk together often – we do – almost every day – but it’s been a while since we’ve driven away from our local neighbourhood and immersed ourselves under a canopy of forest bliss and meandering streams, where every footstep is accompanied by the sound of water bubbling over stones.
Our usual walks are local, preferring to not put a foot inside the car, but to walk straight out of our front door, and take a stroll around the coast. We are fortunate to have bushy town-belt trails close by and it’s always lovely to walk by the sea, however there is always the background sound of cars passing by and the trails are never far from the Wellington city suburbs and houses dotting the hills. Removing ourselves completely from the city suburbs (beautiful as they are in Wellington) and heading into native forest, was an energising and uplifting experience. We had both forgotten that feeling of being surrounded by green with the only sounds being birds, flowing water and wind rustling the leaves of the trees.
We started our walk from the Catchpool Valley carpark, which is a 2 km from the Remutaka Forest Park entrance, off of the Coast Road, located 12 km south of Wainuiomata. We walked the Orongorongo Track, adding on a little extra to walk up to Turere Lodge, where one of our daughter’s had stayed on a high school overnight tramp. The walk was around 12 km return, with beautiful places to paddle and swim at Turere Stream.
The track climbed through mixed podocarp and broadleaf forest along Catchpool Stream, with the damp floor of the Catchpool Valley supporting many nikau palms, tree ferns, kamahi and tawa trees.
As we climbed up the drier sides of Cattle Ridge the forest was more open, with hard beech trees. It was beautiful to catch glimpses of the streams and the river through the trees.
If we’d had more time we definitely would have enjoyed a dip in the river, but we needed to head back to pick up our youngest daughter from a friend’s house. I think we will have to revisit this walk again, packing swim gear and a towel! It was so lush to be totally immersed in nature for an afternoon. The last time I’d visited this area was for one of the Xterra trail run events, in 2019 (which I wrote about in this post, along with other running events and happenings!).
I also have very fond memories of visiting this area ten years ago, with my dear Mum and Dad, when my children were so much younger and smaller, very precious times indeed, which I wrote about in ‘Do what you love, one day a week: a walk in the bush‘. It was poignant for me to walk those same trails, with the thought that my Mum will never walk them again with me. I am so grateful for the times we shared together and the memories I hold dear, my steps now carrying her in my heart.