Sunday, January 31, 2016

Getting Active: Upper Nihotupu Dam walk (Auckland)

Welcome to my new blog! I'm really excited to start sharing recipes, food ideas and just what I try to do on a day-to-day basis to stay fit and healthy. My hope is that by reading my posts that some of you out there can feel inspired. I know that sometimes blogs can look as if people follow these perfect, healthy lifestyles, which sometimes can feel discouraging, as you could never live that instagram-perfect lifestyle. My aim with this blog is to try and keep the posts realistic. Yes, I do try to eat healthy and keep active, but I am far from perfect and as the title of this blog says, I do have a penchant for sweet foods and I particularly love getting into the kitchen to make them.

For my first post, I thought that I would share with you one of the ways that I like to get active, particularly on the weekends. Living in New Zealand, we are lucky to be so close to many national and regional parks and lots of great bush walks, but how many of these do we actually go on? If I have a few hours spare I love to grab my camera, some water and get out walking.

Over Auckland Anniversary weekend, Jake (my fiancé) and I went for a walk to the Upper Nihotupu Dam in the Waitakere Ranges. This was a really great Sunday walk as we managed to escape the heat a little by walking in the shade of the bush. It also showcased some of New Zealand's amazing scenery!!

Getting there
The track that we walked on would probably be about 15 minutes from the Auckland CBD (we actually live out West so this is just an estimate). There is a well signposted carpark off Piha Road. I will leave you to figure out how to get to Piha Rd, sense of direction and therefore my instructions are pretty dismal.

The walk itself
The walk is on gravelled path the whole way, so it's a walk that you can do in any comfortable shoes. I would also say that fitness wise this track would be easy to moderate. There are some hills involved, but it's the sort of walk that you could adjust your speed to your fitness.

The walk starts of winding through what feels like ancient New Zealand forest. Things lots of tree ferns and overhanging branches. After about 10 minutes, we emerged onto a gravel road that is used to service the dam. While, in my opinion, not quite as cool as the initial track, there is still a lot of beautiful plant life around, and the road follows along the water reservoir, so there are some cool little waterfalls that you can see along the way.

One of the waterfalls that we stopped off at.

Standing at the top of one of the waterfalls.

After around 40 minutes of walking (including the detours we took to the waterfalls), we reached the top of the dam itself. Walking out over the dam the view is truly breathtaking! My photos really don't do it justice. The dam actually had a massive drop to it (enough to give me a bit of vertigo) and looks out over a beautiful valley of native New Zealand bush. You can actually see all the way out to Manukau Harbour, or at least I'm pretty sure that was what it was.

The view looking back over the reservoir from the dam.

Looking out from the top of the dam (the photo does not do this justice!)

After walking along the dam, we kept following the path that follows the old tram tracks to the bottom of the dam. Again, we were walking through some pretty picturesque bush. Once at the bottom, we discovered that there were actually stairs that zig-zag up 3/4 of the dam, so to add the the fitness portion of the walk we gave them a go. They definitely got my heart pumping and my legs feeling tired as the steps were pretty steep. 

Following the old tram tracks to the bottom of the dam.

Walking back up lots of steep steps to the top of the dam.

After taking one more admiring look at the amazing views, we headed back up the track towards the car.

All up I think the walk took us just under 1 1/2 hours. The only slightly negative comment that I have is that we had to walk back the same way that we came. There are other tracks in the area, however, these would make for a very long round trip, and many of the tracks appear as if they are more suited to proper hiking rather than a casual morning walk.

So to sum it all up, if you have a morning spare and are in the Auckland area, I would definitely recommend heading out West to enjoy this wonderful walk!

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