The Tragedy Track (Part Two) – Rapaki Track / Valley Track

“On a Mish” #380 The Tragedy Track (Part Two). Rapaki Track / Valley Track. Hillsborough, Christchurch City. 23.6.2023. There have been times when I have been hiking in places of historic hardship. Knowing someone, oror multiple people have perished in the path through paradise you are following adds an eerie layer of emotion to the adventure. Sometimes I have learnt of these tales while researching future missions. But as was the case on my first wander up the Rapaki Track, I was not only on a completely different track than I thought but I was also on a track that was the scene of a terrible tragedy…

As I stood in the swirling clouds at the top of the Rapaki I was happy it wasn’t the track I thought it was. When my father suggested we hike the Rapaki Track I thought it was another name for the Bridle Path Track. Both are up to points on the Port Hills. And both are part of the sad tale of two young boys from Christchurch who got into trouble after a fishing trip went very wrong. The boys became lost in the clouds and now memorial posts near the Rapaki Track mark their final resting places.

On our journey down we passed one of the monuments near the main track before diverting off onto the innocent sounding ‘Valley Track’. We had seen the track on our way up and decided it would make the mish an interesting loop.

It definitely made the way down much more ‘interesting’.

Immediately we went from pressed gravel to wet mud, and this had me wishing I had my hiking poles to help me with the slipping and sliding.

The track is a well worn trench and in places it was better to walk on the grass beside it. Sometimes there were only slippery options and having a dog yanking you in a downward direction while you are deciding the best place to step wasn’t helping.

At one point we were negotiating a rather rough patch when a jogger dashed past us as if we were going backwards. With travel nearly at a crawl (sometimes literally) and my hip telling me to throw in the towel, It was a little bit demoralising and it made me sad as I was once the runner skipping around the hindrance of a struggling hiker. And as bad as it sounds, we were kind of expecting to find him in a heap somewhere along the trail after taking one risky step too many. We didn’t.

The slipping and sliding eventually took us to a shelter about two thirds of the way down. The shelter has been crafted into the side of the hill and would make a great stopping point if heading up via the Valley Track, or could be a destination itself if you didn’t want to go all the way to the top of the Rapaki Track.

Below the shelter the mud eased as we entered a small section of forest. The rare patch of native bush is a vast change from the rolling grass farmlands above. It was here we encountered another sign of the 2011 earthquake. A farmgate sits squashed under a massive boulder which was shaken free during the quake. The date has been painted on the gate as a reminder of that tragic day.

The forest finished at a car park, and with all three of us covered in mud we wandered the streets of Hillsborough back to the car.

The mish was much, much harder than expected. And unfortunately, like other recent times when I had over done it, I was left not only sore but also suffering from a migraine due to being so washed out. As bad as that sounds I am still glad I went on the mish and it was much more interesting (in more ways than one!) than expected. I’ll take the pain over the annoyance of doing nothing.

Along with the views, the Rapaki Track is a trail and tale of tragedy and a reminder that, even when very close to civilization, you can meet your maker. Stay safe out there hiking family!

Slippery Conditions on the Valley Track

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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