If you are looking for something to do as the weather gets warmer that gets you and the family out and about then you can’t go past the new Five Summits Walk and Bike Trail and accompanying map that has recently been developed in Pukekohe.
A gift to the community from the Pukekohe Tramping Club for its 50th anniversary year, the Five Summit’s trail is an amazing near half marathon loop (21km) covering a plethora of landscapes, that can be undertaken in one go, or in part. The trail utilizes the many off track walking paths in the area, through innumerable parks and reserves and linking the five main summits of Pukekohe.
At each of the five summits, Pukekohe Hill, Belmont Rise, Cape Hill, The Rock and Rooseville Park, a sandwich board containing a snippet of history of the summit and area has been erected and offers a reassuring landmark to tick off on the map that you know you are indeed going the right way!
The Pukekohe Tramping Club grew from the aspirations of one David Lawrie, a keen birdwatcher and tramper who having returned from a three-year stint at Otago University placed an advert in the local paper looking for like-minded people to accompany him on planned tramping activities around both the local area and further afield. Delighted with the response he got, the club has undertaken many adventures into the outdoors with both day and weekend tramps. Destinations have ranged from Kauaeranga Valley, Great Barrier Island, the Kawekas, the Ruahines, the Kaimanawas, Mt Egmont and many more. Today the club has regular midweek and weekend day tramps along with overnight excursions to a diverse range of areas and is looking forward to the next 50 years.
The hard-working committee who are behind the trail are delighted with the outcome. Parts of the trail are established walks in themselves and many locals will have walked them, but the creation of a full loop of trails that connects a number of reserves and the five main volcanic cones in the area creates a real focal point for Pukekohe for local walkers and those from further afield.
“We set about to create something that everyone from far and wide could enjoy and that provides an insight into the rich history of our area. The resulting Map that accompanies the trail is wonderful, fits into the pocket, has a showerproof cover and acts as a guide while allowing everyone to get out, enjoy and learn about our wonderful area. We hope to keep adding to the trail as new areas are developed in Pukekohe and that it encourages developers and Council to link their developments and reserves to it,” says committee member Judy.
Currently the trail is marked by Department of Conservation orange triangles attached to all manner of things indicating you are on track, and orange arrows on the pavement sprayed in paint, but the goal is to have them marked out with the Five Summits Logo especially developed for the trail.
“The logo was designed by one of our own, Mike Massey, and has special significance. Our Pukekohe Tramping Club logo is in the centre, the circle represents the loop around Pukekohe, and the five star arms represent each of the five summits.”
Whilst you can enter the loop at any point, another great benefit of the map and the trails loop design, if you want to be a purist and start at the beginning, the trail starts at the Train Station. Walking along Harris Street and across Bledisloe Park, down part of Nelson St, heading towards Queen street, this part of the trail encompasses a lovely amount of off track walking through reserves amongst the suburban areas. You then head out up Anzac road to the top of Pukekohe Hill, which at 222 metres above sea level is the highest point in the immediate area.
Section two heads from Pukekohe Hill down Calcutta and Blake roads towards Puni before you wind your way back in along the back of Rosa Birch Park down Mcnally and through to the newly developed subdivision of Belmont Rise, which is a remnant of the Helvetia Tuff ring and named by James Roulston, the proprietor of the Pukekohe Hotel to mean ‘good view’.
Section three and you walk down Belmont Road, through a reserve known as Ray Faucett Reserve, across Helvetia road, down Churchill road and wind your way through the network of picturesque greenbelt and meandering stream (or torrent if you visit over the winter) that ends up at Hickey’s reserve. A short walk along Cape Hill road and you start the ascent through Ernie’s reserve to the lowest high point in the area, Cape Hill which was named by settlers who came from Cape Town, South Africa in the 1860’s.
The views from atop Cape Hill are amazing and offer a perfect vantage point to take in the whole area, hunt out local landmarks and look for evidence of Pukekohe’s volcanic historical past.
The remaining two summit sections and then back to the starting point are the shortest in distance but perhaps offer the most varied in scenery. You take in the amazing development that is the Possum Bourne retirement complex, Anselmi ridge and its constructed walkways that border the stormwater drainage lake the on the way to The Rock or Raven’s Rock as it known by some. Then the walk across and up to Nghere St exposes the start of the horticultural splendour that stretches towards Bombay. The climb to the top and through Rooseville park, which was once home to American troops, is not really pushchair friendly with unstructured paths and the odd style to clamber over but offers an amazing forest walk full of glorious bird song. It is easy to forget just how close you are to civilisation!
But you are, and as the hum of trains gets louder and the walk returns to suburban sidewalks, it is a timely reminder of the progress our little town has made over the years, and how lucky we are to have such a great way to explore it. So, what are you waiting for, grab a map, (we have some at the elocal office and they are available from the library, Katmandu and a selection of other places around town) and do the Five Summit Walk and Bike trail this summer!