Take a Walk on the Wild Side

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Step aside Hip-Hop Grannies, Mangawhai has a formidable gang in town. Tricky dance moves are nothing compared to steep contours and rough conditions with a dodgy back. Meet the Mangawhai Tracks Charitable Trust, or better known locally as the ‘Trackies’. On any given Friday, rain or shine, this dedicated group rally together to maintain existing Mangawhai tracks and form exciting new ones. Some of the most beautiful local walks have been carved directly out of the hands of these amazing volunteers. But more surprising is the average age of these hands – 65 years young, with Mike sitting around the 75 mark. It can be backbreaking work amongst some of Northland’s most difficult terrain. So what drives this group of 40 or so members?

Chairman Gordon Hosking reckons it’s good to do something for the community, and that’s about as fanciful as he gets. He’s not one for applause or thanks. “We love the sense of achievement and companionship – we’re always having a good laugh. Among our group are some really interesting people, a retired scientist, ex engineers and local farmers. We’re a well preserved lot, and pretty hardy.” Mishaps have been few, a roll off the side of a hill here and there, nothing major. Although Gordon does reflect on the day a rather considerable bridge structure was put in place only to disappear a fortnight later – found 50 metres or so downstream!

What about succession planning, considering most of the members are edging towards being a little, er, over the hill? Gordon agrees. “When we open a new walk, like the Tanekaha Waterfall Track we tend to attract a big crowd across all ages. We hope this creates awareness of our work and will encourage new members to get involved.”

In the pipeline are some outstanding plans, including a botanical loop around the Tanekaha Complex, dishing out waterfalls, spectacular Puriri trees and abundant birdlife across a gentle contour. Gutsy by anyone’s standard, this construction should take about two years, but in typical Trackies style they’re aiming to knock it out much quicker. There will also be two more stages added to the ‘Round the Harbour’ track in Mangawhai, taking walkers from Picnic Bay to the campground and Back Bay to the local tavern.

If you would like to help out, just dust off your boots and bring your sense of humour to the Mangawhai Club (next to the Golf Club and Information Centre on Molesworth Drive) by 8am each Friday - it’s tools down by noon. Mangawhai is firmly on the map because of these incredible walks. Our community salutes this hardworking team.

Gordon Hoskings T: 027 458 6500