11th February 2023.
A grand total of 5 from SWTC and 2 from MTC walked the Manawatu Gorge track, possibly economically, utilising two electric cars. (There are pros and cons, like adding biofuel to petrol.) A mixed 4 drove to the Ballance end of the track, and 3 from SWTC headed over the Pahiatua Track to the Ashhurst end.
We met up at the 5.5km midway point for lunch and key swapping at a picnic table beside wind turbines, the EtoW group arriving 10 minutes ahead of the WtoE party.
The WtoE group heard very little birdsong compared with other trips, but, as this trip coincided with the Pahiatua Railcar Society railcar excursions through the gorge, they heard (but did not see) the 10am and 1.45pm railcars. They also heard 3 planes and 1 helicopter. The EtoW group heard.........and actually saw a railcar, as well as hearing at least one kereru and a number of grey warblers, maybe we were a bit quieter? We also thought we had heard a lot of jets taking off form Palmerston North, it turned out to be noisy wind turbines as the wind was quite strong.
The western end of the track was full of other walkers and runners, but it appeared that very few people walk in from the Ballance and Upper Gorge bridge access tracks.
Stand-out features of the tramp were the nikau palms, the giant-sized Chief Whatonga statue, and the wind turbines.
The WtoE group took 4 hours 40 minutes, the EtoW group came in second at 4 hours 50minutes. (We didn’t realise it was a race!) Juliet's Garmin watch says we walked 11.03 kms and had a total ascent of 586m.
Those on the trip were Nigel B, and Jenny B of MTC, and Ross Anderson, Sam Farmer and Ed, Juliet and Merran Cooke of SWTC.