The Tragedy Track (Part One) – Rapaki Track.

“On a Mish” #380 The Tragedy Track(Part One). Rapaki Track. Hillsborough, Christchurch City. 23.6.2023. While attending a chronic pain management course we were asked to set goals. I joined in with another attendee’s goal, which was to hike the popular Rapaki Track. Unfortunately my mission partner was unable to complete the course and I ended up tackling another challenge near Queenstown (The Eagles Nest) as part of my goal. Up until this point I had thought I had hiked the Rapaki a few years before, but that would turn out to be a completely different track…

The Bridle Path Track connects the Port Town of Lyttelton to Christchurch, and was how goods were transported until the construction of the Lyttelton Tunnel in 1964. To think that all sorts of items were lugged up and over the Port Hills for a very long time can make you feel a bit tired! Once the tunnel was opened the transportation of stores became much easier and the Bridle Path became a historic hiking trail. When I suggested that myself and my old man go for a mish up the Rapaki Track I thought we were going to walk the Bridle Path. Research is important and it is very bad to just assume you know the area you are going to.

With ideas of an easy stroll up under the Christchurch Gondola we set off on a chilly June morning. When we drove into the suburb of Hillsborough and parked up I quickly realised we were in a completely different place hiking a completely different track. I have always said that my favourite track is one I haven’t hiked, so with wonder and intrigue we set off.

The going wasn’t too bad to start with as I had the added assistance of Ernie power. He might be small but somehow there is a massive amount of force produced by legs that are the size of a pot handle!

Even though the day was grey and drizzly, the track was still buzzing with many hikers and bikers. As we climbed higher and started to get views back down to the city and beyond I was starting to understand why I heard about the track so many times, including during my course.

Near the top we had unique views of the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula as the clouds swirled around their highest points. I was annoyed by how sore I felt so it was lucky for me that I had a distraction. Unfortunately the distraction was one where the luck of two young lads ran out. Memorial markers are a reminder of a tragedy way back in 1883. Sadly two young Christchurch boys went on a fishing mish to Lyttelton, and on their hike home over the hills they became disoriented in cold and cloudy conditions. Because they were only prepared for a daytime fishing trip they didn’t have sufficient clothing to survive the night. Now monuments mark their final resting places. I’m not sure how many people realise that the large white post near the top is part of a harrowing tale of the past reminding us of the track of tragedy the two boys took back in 1883.

We pushed on to the top and luckily the cloud layer lifted enough for us to see down into Whakaraupo / Lyttelton Harbour. With thoughts of the lost boys’ final trek still fresh in our minds we paused at the high point to catch our breaths. The place had an eerie atmosphere which was enhanced by the fact that the Summit road is closed off near the top of the due to the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and the irreparable destruction it did to the road. The ghost road disappearing into the clouds had scary movie scene written all over it and, along with the wet weather the place wasn’t one to hang out at.

This definitely wasn’t the Bridle Path Track and it was awesome to be somewhere different. Unlike the boys we had much better visibility, however my battle was going to be with my hip, back and the dreaded downhill journey ahead.

After soaking in the swirly summit surroundings we began our descent and to make things more interesting we took a different track down. It definitely was interesting, very ‘interesting’ indeed …

Hiking Towards Witch Hill on the Rapaki Track

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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