Our requirements were something we had not tramped before, wasn’t too far to drive, and a good day walk. The Parau Loop Track met these requirements nicely.
The track starts just before Parau on Huia Road. It’s a three to four hour return trip, depending on which route taken.
A note of warning, this track should not be attempted without a good map, as this is also a gateway to a network of tracks leading into the deep Waitakere Ranges. Although it is well sign-posed it would be easy to take a wrong turn, and quickly become lost in a maze of interconnecting routes.
The walk offers both mature and regenerating forest, streams, and good views of Mill Bay.
There are two possible routes for the loop. The first, is a seeming shortcut through the Nihotupu Valley involving a steep climb back up to the ridge, and the second a slightly longer, but probably easier track along the top of the ridge.
I opted for the shortcut, taking us over a couple of streams and an attractive regenerating Nikau forest.
However, what was particularly impressive, was that we had walked right into peak mushroom season.
As we walked past a diverse array of different fungi, I began to reminisce about my childhood. Growing up on the farm, April was not a welcome month, as it typically marked a brief period where eczema posed a serious threat to cattle.
Of course as eczema was rife, other fungi were also prolific, including the edible variety(s).
And so, we would have the great Lorenz mushroom hunt. The entire family would be involved in systematically traversing paddocks, dogs included, to collect fresh button mushrooms by the bucketful.
Much tastier than the supermarket variety, we could then look forward to creamy mushroom omelettes in the cool autumn evenings.
Back in the Waitakeres mushroom season appeared even more interesting, and as we walked past many varieties I had not seen before, I had plenty of time to bore Beau and Dave with stories of my exciting childhood mushroom hunting days.
For those not bored yet, view all photos, including some not of fungi, here.