Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 12, October 1969
By TREVOR WATT
Last year the clearing of the Mountain Track was mentioned to the Paeroa Lions Club as a Service Project. Initial interest was lacking but eventually Alan Bott, Colin Mudford and I organised a hike for those keen enough to make an exploratory climb.
It fell to my lot, as an "old hand" to lead the group and it happened that we chose a grand Sunday in November for the expedition. Leaving our cars at the very popular Picnic Reserve we no sooner crossed the Pipe Bridge than discussions arose concerning the location of the mines and batteries and the evidence of the old Woodstock workings. However we proceeded via Scotsman's Gully and the overgrown track where slips had taken toll after nearly 40 years of disuse.
Following the delightful little stream we negotiated a fence and found our way to the original Woodstock Road that leads from Crown Hill to the vicinity of the old No. 8 shaft. Thence we followed a well defined track but in places had to fight our way through over-hanging gorse and fern which impeded progress. Yet it was all most interesting and many times we paused to look back, admire the scene, and discuss Karangahake's gold mining days. Then we reached the last steep pinch and finally the sharp peak to the Trig Station, 1,786 feet from sea level.
Immediately we were rewarded by magnificent views - particularly clear that day. A panoramic wonderland lay to the north, Waiheke Island in a glistening sea, Auckland, the Hauraki Gulf with Thames and Paeroa in the foreground, the long finger of the Coromandel Peninsula forming a back-drop. To the West lay the expansive Hauraki Plains reaching right to the foothills of Patetonga and Tahuna. Out to the south towered Te Aroha Mountain and we looked down into the Waitawheta Valley and away over to Katikati. To the east there was Mayor Island lifting out of the sea, and with the aid of our Binoculars waves could be seen breaking on its rocky shores. Waihi Beach, Waihi itself and Waikino were all part of a magic carpet spread before us, making the strenuous climb well worth while; yet how many more people could enjoy it if we could clear the track!
The reward of this pilot trip was that the Lions Club gave full support to our project. It was brought to our notice that we needed approval from the Forestry Department as the track passes through a Reserve, but finally the Forest Ranger decided that as we proposed to open up an original but overgrown track, in the interest of a Public Scenic Reserve no objections would be raised.
We visualised not only clearing, but also signs and sign posting with estimates of time to be taken between seats for periodic rests - and this work has been done. On a week-end in the autumn of this year between 25 and 30 Lions gathered with a great collection of tools such as slashers, spades, post hole borer's and hammers. Timber was conveyed up Crown Hill by tractor and thence used either down Scotchman's Gully or up the mountain, and signposts and seats were installed after the initial clearing had been done. Various items were donated by enthusiasts e.g. the notice boards so well prepared by Tom Morris, and never did a body of men work more willingly. And how they appreciated a late afternoon tea at the home of one of their members, for Gordon Vale invited us to climb the School Hill for welcome refreshments.
When the "Track idea" had become a reality it snow-balled into a build-up for further amenities for the Picnic Reserve, and since then we have added 4 seats and tables, 3 Barbecue Fire Places, an old Tractor (donated by McLeod family) together with a special Slide for children to play on. Then another problem confronted us - the necessity to make the approach to our track safer for both children and elderly people. Supervised by Mr. J. Sinnett, representing the Paeroa Borough Council which supplied chain-mesh netting, we used hundreds of staples to attach this to both sides of the Pipe Bridge which carries Paeroa's water supply. This bridge was never intended to be a public foot-bridge but for several years has been negotiated at the users own risk which was considerable.
We feel that this project has been a most worth while one, and has given us tremendous satisfaction and pleasure but it will be appreciated that notwithstanding free labour it was fairly costly. Apart from our own contribution to meet this we were greatly helped by Mr. Michael McNamara's donation of £100 which the Ohinemuri County Council made available to us.