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Tararua Footprints Waiotauru River System

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Waiotauru River system

The Waiotauru River system has many traces of logging activity but not many other tracks. The eastern side of this activity was the old State Forest boundary: a line extending through Renata and Oriwa. This territory is now included in the Park. The area logged in the 1930s extended up-valley of Sheridan Creek. The region logged in the 1960s includes much of that to the west of the old forest boundary, upstream of the 1930s halfway point, and runs well towards the Renata – Alpha Ridge.

14.23 Sheridan Creek  Ordinary Tramper

This stream is occasionally used as an alternative route out from Field Hut. The bush on spurs from Field Track into the stream is not difficult (the spur WSW of .866 is the obvious choice), but travel in the stream itself can be rough, depending on flood damage and waterflow. Allow 5 hours or more for the trip. Taken in the reverse direction, the circuit makes a full day trip.

In the lower reaches, a track was marked from the Schoolhouse Flat campsite - see DoC Ōtaki Forks info sheet - to the best-preserved boiler and log-hauler in the area. Neither track nor markers are currently in good order, and a visit cannot be recommended as a family walk. [revised November 2015]

14.24 Rae Ridge to Dennan  Bushcraft and Navigation

An enjoyable trip, a good 5 hours from river to Dennan, 8+ hours overall.

Beyond the road-end camping ground at Schoolhouse Flat, cross the river to the TR and the flats beyond to the start of Rae Ridge, just past Sheridan Creek. There is good access from the Sheridan Creek side of the toe of the spur. After the first steep pinch, the early part of Rae Ridge is fairly open, with traces of the 1930s logging tracks gradually giving way to better bush. Despite windfalls, the ridge is good going, regenerating nicely from earlier storm and logging damage and, while reaching point .668 is pardonable, beware of the markers enticing beyond to the Waiotauru river. With care the saddle at (Topo50 BP33 876 687) will be found with a small wallow beyond. The ridge is easy from here, with several storm clearings towards the bush-edge. A small scrub belt, then tussock, brings the summit of Dennan with its panoramic views, from where the N spur leads down to gain the track. [revised March 2017]

14.25 Waiotauru Forks to Kime (Tregear Spur) Bushcraft and Navigation

From just before the camping ground at Schoolhouse Flat, 2 km upstream of Boielle Flat, a good trail (except for two exposed slip crossings, see 14.26) leads up the Waiotauru TL to Waiotauru Forks: less than 90 minutes. Cross to the TR of the Southern Waiotauru and climb to the logging road into the Eastern Waiotauru, crossing to the TR where there was once a logging bridge, to the Tregear – Snowy Forks: 25 minutes from Waiotauru Forks. Twenty metres up the Snowy River, pick up an old bulldozed track which leads up the spur between the streams to about the 500m contour. Thereafter the going soon becomes easy and casual markers may be found to the saddle past .594. The spur steepens towards the bush-edge; then a 50-minute climb brings the main Southern Crossing route, right at the head of the Kime Hut basin. Make sure that the Kime Hut door is well closed when you leave. About 5 hours from the Tregear Forks to Kime. A good long day of 11 hours for the round trip back to the Forks. [revised February 2019]

The walk back to the car from the Forks can be avoided by scrambling down to Schoolhouse Flat from the western end of the Arcus Loop Track and fording the Waiotauru.

14.26 Ngatiawa - Waiotauru Saddle (Maymorn Junction) to Ōtaki Forks Ordinary Tramper

Less than 2 hours down the old logging road from the saddle brings the Waiotauru Hut, a new 4 bunk hut replacing the old decayed 18 bunk one. Here the road formation crosses to the TR and soon runs fairly high above the river before heading into the Eastern Waiotauru (Snowy); a track drops to the footbridge at the Waiotauru Forks, an hour from the hut. Most of the spurs on both sides of the river have logging tracks on them, now rather overgrown, some climbing quite high. These are not described but exploring them gives reward. The graded foot trail now stays on the TL to the road-end near Schoolhouse Flat. Some 30 minutes from the footbridge, the track crosses an old slip face and is crumbling dangerously over a vertical drop. There is another dangerously exposed section at a creek not far from the road-end. Only the first section has a marked bypass. It is 90 minutes down from the Waiotauru Forks to the road, and another 20 minutes to Boielle Flat. From the Saddle to the Ōtaki Forks: 4–5 hours. [revised May 2019]

Waiotauru Hut
Waiotauru Hut

Waiotauru Hut

Waiotauru Hut is a Bivvy or Basic hut, located at -40.939075, 175.18521. It has 4 bunks with toilets - non-flush, water from stream, and water supply. Bookings are not required, usage is first come, first served.
Waiotauru Hut
Ōtaki Forks Campsite
Ōtaki Forks Campsite

Ōtaki Forks Campsite

Ōtaki Forks Campsite is a Standard campsite, located at -40.881766, 175.222088, set in an forest and rivers and lakes landscape. Access is by campervan, car, and caravan. Activities include fishing, kayaking and canoeing, swimming, and walking and tramping. It has 150 unpowered sites with non-powered/tent sites, toilets - flush, water from tap - not treated, boil before use, wheelchair accessible, toilets, and water supply. Dogs on a leash only. Other pets on conservation land rules. are allowed. Bookings are not required, usage is first come, first served.
Ōtaki Forks Campsite alert

Ōtaki Gorge Road closed to vehicles and pedestrians

Ōtaki Gorge Road is closed to vehicles and pedestrians due to a major slip. Camping is available at Boielles Campsite but for foot access only.

There is an emergency track that you can walk to gain access to Ōtaki Forks. It is 5 km long and can be accessed 200 m past the locked gate on the Ōtaki Gorge Road.

This is a long term alert.

First published on 20 December 2022. Last reviewed on 16 May 2024.

Ōtaki Forks Campsite closed

Ōtaki Forks Campsite is closed due to the closure of Ōtaki Gorge Road. There is summer camping available at Boielles Campsite, however, this is foot access only. This can be booked online.

This is a long term alert. 

First published on 15 December 2023. Last reviewed on 13 May 2024.

Ōtaki Forks Campsite

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"Our cooking utensils consisted of two billy cans and a frying pan. Our baking was done on the ground, a hollow was made and over it a scrub fire was kindled, the ashes raked back, the dough was then placed in it and covered over with the hot ashes to bake - the result called damper was not very sightly, but it passed for good bread when there was nothing better. A baking of damper would sometimes last three weeks, so that in such a case, one's digestion was not impaired by eating newly baked bread."

James McKerrow, Pioneer explorer-surveyor of Otago.

[This reminds me, Merv, of the tale from Hector's trip up the Matukituki, where they had prepared sun-dried jerky from sheep they had driven many miles, then killed and smoked. "And it was remarkable how little of it sufficed to satisfy a man!"]

Page last modified on 2022 Dec 03 13:00

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