Dad’s back, woohoo! We celebrated with a trip out to Leith Valley and a hike up towards Flagstaff.
We travelled north through a bustling Monday morning town centre, before turning left up Duke St and passing the Woodhaugh gardens. Continuing along Malvern St, we reached Leith Valley Rd, the pleasant little winding road bordered by bush on both sides. We pulled over near the start of the Nichols Falls track, but instead headed up the road slightly and entered the bush at the beginning of the mountain bike track. There is a marked access route here which heads straight up the hill, crossing the mountain bike track many times.
One of the features of this area is the many tree fuchsia trees or kotukutuku, recognisable by their distinctive reddish-brown papery bark. Last year I harvested some of the edible berries (known in Maori as konini) to make a truly unique ice cream.
No berries yet though, as the trees are only flowering.
We powered up through the thick tangled bush, stopping every so often to
rest admire the scenery.
We broke out briefly into a grassy clearing and then it was back into the forest and more climbing. At the edge of the track we were lucky enough to spot an unusual fungus.
Further on we entered a grove of macrocarpas, under which the ground was comparatively clear, giving us a good view of several huge boulders looming above us.
We skirted the rocks, and continued through more bush, still mostly low and regenerating, but with the odd survivor from earlier times standing proud above the rest.
Eventually we emerged at a fence line, which we followed up to another clearing, from which we had a spectacular view of Dunedin city.
We passed again into the forest, although this part seemed older and more established. There were more large trees, and trunks festooned with vines, ferns and moss.
We ducked under one such mossy arch to discover the track had unceremoniously petered out. So we took the chance to eat our sandwiches before retracing our steps.
As we emerged back into the clearing, we debated whether to return the way we’d come or adventure further. A sudden shower made up our minds for us and we slipped and slithered down the hill, losing our way once or twice as we missed the track markers.
Nevertheless we made it down safely, and fled home to shelter.