Rediscovering Rameka’s Historic Bridle Track

During the week of November 13th 2017 I headed down to Takaka with my buddy Orion and two Project Rameka trustees, Stuart and Karyn, to lend our track building skills to the effort to reopen the historic Rameka Track. Orion and I came to New Zealand from America as part of a study abroad program, and have been working for Jonathan Kennett in Wellington for the past two months or so.

Two fierce track builders, Orion (left) and Alex (right)

The primary objective of our trip was to uncover the historic track, which had been built in the 1890s as a bridle path for mustering sheep, but has been overgrown for more than 50 years. We also hoped to release trees planted during previous work parties and collect information from locals to be used for interpretive panels we’re in the process of creating.

Track building master Hamish Seaton hard at work

We arrived Tuesday evening, and Orion and I set up camp in the Lorax Lair, a small wooden hut built for volunteers. We were struck by the remoteness of the location, but soon came to enjoy the simplicity of life up there.

Watch out for tomo!
Orion doing battle with a barberry stump

During the rest of the week we spent time working on the track with our grubbers, digging out roots and stumps and smoothing out the gradient. We also attended a meeting of the Project Rameka Incorporated Society and heard about the status of the land and plans for its future.

A track with a view
Locals lending a hand

Over the weekend we participated in the community work party, and I was amazed by the support and enthusiasm of the locals and the incredible progress we managed to make. It’s hard to recall all the names, but from memory there was: Paul, Darren, Emma, Jason, Pete, Tamsin, Linwood, Brian, Mandy, Kea, Frazer, Kerry, Daphne, Chris, Jill, Martin, Marie, Hernan, Annie, Glenda, Mark, Jonathan, Bronnie, Stuart, Ricky, Corina, Ginny, Karl, Steve, Hamish, Georgie, Archie and Brady!

With nearly 30 people showing up each day, we uncovered around 3 kilometres of the old track and built a handful of switchbacks. Not too shabby!

A perfect switchback!

In our free time we headed down to a local swimming hole to test out the cliff jumps and rope swings, tossed a frisbee around at camp, and spent the nights gazing up at the star-filled sky. Our time in Rameka is one of the highlights of my time in New Zealand, and something I’ll remember for years to come!

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