River crossing

Fernhill Escarpment

In which Miles finally finds his way into a small upper harbor reserve.

To view the full gallery of 6 photos on imgur, click here.

I had driven pasts this wooded area many times, and had made several unsuccessful attempts to find a way in, and had done some research online as well, with no luck.  Same with Burnside Reserve, right on the other side of Bush Road.  I had come across the Upper Harbour Walking Guide before, but apparently not while researching Fernhill Escarpment/Burnside Reserve.  Once I noticed my oversight, the guide opened the door to several other area reserves as well.  Google Maps only puts me next to many of these small parks, but doesn’t direct me to a trail head.  There are usually car parks, which are also very helpful to know about.

Fernhill Escarpment is best accessed from within a small residential neighborhood.  Next to a small parking area is a long narrow strip of grass on the south side of the river.

Fernhill Escarpment
Fernhill Escarpment

The river is just past the treeline; walking through the narrow strip of trees takes you to a very different space of shade and fairly dense bush. A path follows the edge of the river

River path
River path

Visitors are warned that rain can triple the depth of the river in a very short period of time. I suspect the variable river depth, and related safety concerns, are behind the closing of crossings like this one.

Closer river crossing
Closer river crossing

Across from the stairs (below), if you look closely, you can see the submerged board I used to cross one branch of the river. It was several inches under water.

River crossing
River crossing

Crossing the main fork of the river was a bit tricky.  It was necessary to walk a short distance through the back lawns of Massey University to reach a bridge that gave me access to the north part of the park.

The walking guide says “This is a bush walk through a stand of primarily Totara. The forest is of very high ecological value. Some trees within this reserve likely pre-date Maori arrival in New Zealand.”  These big trees seem concentrated in the more remote parts of the park – although as I’ll admit shortly, not necessarily so remote, if the river is low.

Fernhill Embankment is home to some very old trees
Fernhill Escarpment is home to some very old trees
Fernhill Embankment is home to some very old trees
Fernhill Escarpment is home to some very old trees
River bank root structure
River bank root structure

The limited river crossings make Fernhill Escarpment seem larger and more remote than it really is.  At times it is easy to forget that you are actually near the center of Albany.  On the trail on the north side of the river, farthest from the campus bridge, I saw only one other person and his dogs – on a Saturday.

I expected to have to return the way I had come, but I saw a couple of girls finding a way across the river at this point. After doing likewise I found myself very close to where I had parked.

River crossing
River crossing

To view the full gallery of 6 photos on imgur, click here.

 

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