Tunnel Gulley

I don’t think I have ever properly introduced you to my two best friends. They are the best kind of bestie’s you can have. The small, fluffy kind that are full of love and always happy to see you.

Meet Frank and Ed

Photo by Stu Corlett Photography

Frank (yes Frank the girl, Daniel named her) is a 5 year old poodle/bichon/westie cross. Her little brother Ed is a 3 year old poodle/shih tsu cross and they are the joy of my life. I love taking them out on adventures.

It’s a dreary, grey, rainy day but I am eager to get out for a walk with them. We decide to brave the weather. Our favourtie walk is Tane’s Track, at a place called Tunnel Gully in Upper Hutt. Although it is raining, this walk is mostly in the forest, so I think we will be ok.

As I turn onto Plateau Road, Eddie stands up, looks out the window and starts making his excited little squeaking noise. Even Frank starts joining in which is quite unusual. They know where we are heading and they are excited.

The road into Tunnel Gully is narrow and twisting. The mist is clinging to the hills. The park is green, lush and so inviting. Even in this weather.

We arrive at the car park and I am surprised to find we are not the only crazy ones who have decided to go walking today. Frank and Ed leap out of the car, they are raring to go.

I love this walk for many reasons, the first one being it’s dog friendly. There are lots of great walks in Wellington, but trying to find ones that are off lead dog friendly is a bit of a challenge. Tane’s Track is an easy 1 hour loop walk on a well maintained track. It goes through beautiful forest, has a waterfall, a picnic area, a tunnel to explore, native birds and streams.

There is so much to enjoy here. It’s quiet, peaceful and the perfect place for a little adventure.

It’s raining but we are not getting wet. The tree canopy is protecting us from the elements. Instead there is the gentle, soothing pitter patter of rain hitting the forest above us. Everything is dewy and glistening. The air is cool and fresh. Piwakawaka (Fantail) flitter through the misty branches, making their distinctive cheeping sounds. Tane’s track is a delight for the senses.

The forest here has many layers; large, ancient looking trees, covered in moss and vines. There are punga, palms and ground ferns and lots of examples of epiphyt here too. The forest is different to that which I was swooning over on the West Coast, but unique and beautiful in it’s own way.

The walk is mostly through quite dense, closed in forest, but at a couple of points, there are clearings which look out across the canopy. Looking out into the distance, all you can see is green, how great is it to be this surrounded by nature?

At several points the track takes you over or alongside a stream. There is one particular spot I always like to stop at. If you move a couple of rocks, sometimes you can find fresh water crayfish. I didn’t find any on this particular trip, but have done so several times before.

I also love to stop at the waterfall and listen to the sound of rushing water.

There is really only one part to this walk that is not in forest. Depending on which way you go, it is about 5 minutes into the walk (or from the end) It’s a large grassy area with eucalyptus trees scattered about. I kinda feel like I am in Australia at this part. There are picnic tables here and it’s often a nice place to stop for lunch (although not today) In summer the place is alive with chirping cicadas. In Winter it is a sleepy haven.

Before heading to the car, we take a short detour down to the tunnel, the feature that gives this park it’s name. Mangaroa Tunnel was built between 1875 and 1877, is 253m long and was used to connect the Wellington/Wairarapa railway. Although no longer used (it was closed in 1955 when the new Remutaka Tunnel was opened) you can still walk through the tunnel today. I didn’t go all the way through, but I do enjoy listening to the echoing sound of dripping water inside it.

We arrive back at the car and after an hour of exploring, I have 2 tired, muddy little pups who look like they have had an excellent time, but are also ready for a nap!

Te Awa Kairangi – a walk along Hutt River

It has been so long since I have been here.

Months in fact.

I want to spend some time exploring places closer to home and to try and see the places as a tourist does. When you see a place over and over again, you can miss the beauty amongst the familiar. I had forgotten how beautiful Te Awa Kairangi is.

Stretching from the Southern Tararua ranges out to Wellington Harbour at Petone, you can walk beside it’s river bank for miles.

I am out with my dogs, Frank and Ed who are having an excellent time. There are so many exciting things for them to sniff. Unfortunately there is a toxic algae that grows in the water during the summer months which is deadly to dogs, so I always avoid the place from November through to April.

Frank and Ed are a bit like toddlers. They are curious and love exploring the world by putting everything in their mouths, so it’s just not worth the risk to take them here in the warmer months.

Its an easy flat walk and I often find I’ll walk to an hour without even realising it, forgetting that this also means and hour walk home! Along the edge of the river bank is the off lead dog walking area, up above is a sealed pavement that makes it a popular route for cyclists. There are also may spots perfect for an afternoon picnic in the sun.

It’s autumn now. The day is still, the river is like a mirror and the trees are a display of autumnal colours. We see lots of bird life, from seagulls and ducks to black swans, pukeko and kereru. Also monarch butterflies. We are so close to the city, but nature abounds.

If I were a tourist, I would think this place was pretty beautiful. As a local (it’s a 5 minute drive from my house) I think I take it for granted sometimes.

What’s on your back doorstep that you have maybe taken for granted?