On September 17th a group of us completed one of my favourite walks -The Golden Stairs. The Whangape Harbour has a wild quality to it that is difficult to describe. The narrow fiord-like entrance must have taken many a ship in days gone by. The reefs there look treacherous.
We have a sister-in-law who grew up in the inner reaches of the harbour. The children hopped on a boat to go to school. What food they didn’t grow themselves was supplemented with the bounty of the sea which was on their doorstep. They owned no car and got off the peninsula they called home on horseback at low tide.
According to Cilla (our sister-in-law, a Lunjevich, by the way) the population was much higher then (the 1950s and 1960s) than it is today.
The pictures for this post were taken by Don Hammond. Included is a scan of an old photo showing the saw mill on the harbour’s edge (south side). There is almost nothing remaining today to indicate that the mill ever existed.
The third week in September is recognized as the time to find the kowhai in bloom in this part of the Far North. That’s where the name ‘Golden Stairs’ originates. The track is largely overgrown but dates back to early Maori days. I once read a story in the local book Tail of the Fish that described the pursuit of a Maori warrior across the Golden Stairs.
I trust you enjoy Don’s compiled photos as much as we enjoyed the walk.
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