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Tararua Footprints Waitohu Valley

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15 Waitohu Stream

Access: 800 metres north of the Otaki roundabout on SH1, the Waitohu Valley Road leads R; 3.5km along it, turn R on to a private road through a quarry to the Waitohu Stream. Ask permission to drive over the farmland from Dave Moore and Hine Wilson (06 364 8937). Just past the quarry, the road drops to cross the Waitohu, and a kilometre further on crosses a second bridge back to the TR. Cars may be parked here. [revised September 2019]

15.1 Thompson Family Group

From the second bridge, take care to follow the old logging road SE up the main valley. One kilometre brings a side-stream followed by a junction. The L branch rises steadily to the ridge-top just SE of Thompson, which can be climbed directly from here. A rough 4WD running N joins, on the NE side of Thompson, the road from the Waikawa picnic area (see 16.1). From here there are fine views, and easier access to Thompson. So far, Family Group.

From the ridge-top, the road from the Waitohu continues E, overgrown but still offering good going to .730; thereafter a route leads over .828 and .860 to Mick. The main ridge is joined at .730, and can be followed E over .673 to Waitewaewae and beyond. From .828, an old pack track drops E and SE to the West Waitewaewae. The tops of .828, .860 and Mick are ill-defined except by ribbons. [revised August 2019]

15.2 Mick Ordinary Tramper

From the second bridge over the Waitohu, proceed as in 15.1 for 1km to the logging road junction across the first side-stream. The R branch, increasingly overgrown, obscure on open ground and subject to slips, can still provide quick access to the bottom of the track up to .860, 45 minutes away. After 15 minutes, cross to find grass on the TL, and just before a major TL side valley, return to the TR. Another 5 minutes of open, boggy going brings a large side-stream. Take care again to continue SE up the main valley, and in 10 minutes drop to cross the next side-stream. (Note the piece of large culvert piping, a remnant of logging days.) The old road continues E up the side-stream’s TL terrace for 200 metres before angling steeply R. The 2 hour climb to .860 follows the extraction road to about the 650m contour. Surprisingly, regrowth since logging days has greatly improved this route. The last section to .860 is on a good track.

The remains of a WWII Ventura bomber can be found off to the R. A number of plane crashes have occurred in the Tararua Ranges, generally in the frequent poor visibility. Indeed pioneer aviators, Hood and Moncrieff, were thought by some to have crashed in the Tararuas. During World War II and since, several aircraft on training or navigation exercises have been lost, some re-discovered in quite recent years, and others yet to be found.

Mick, 500 metres S of .860, is a slightly confusing knoll, so be sure of your bearings before leaving it. There is a route towards Tangata Maunga, almost an hour from Mick, and another back over .860 towards Thompson. [revised September 2019]

15.3 Tangata Maunga Ordinary Tramper

Immediately before the second bridge in the Waitohu, a gate provides access to the ridge road which climbs up R towards Tangata Maunga. At about 650m, a good 2 hours from the bridge, this road drops SW into the Otaki Valley. (Waitohu Lodge, a private hut, lies down to the R a few minutes earlier.) So far, Family Group. An extraction road climbs uphill for some minutes and a fair trail continues beyond through good bush almost to the top of the ridge above the Waitatapia Valley, when an overgrown track leads across an area of leatherwood to the hydrology station, 30 minutes from the junction with the Waitohu-Otaki road; a few markers assist. From here a track, exceedingly overgrown, runs 200 metres SW to the overturned wooden trig of Tangata Maunga. There is little view. [revised May 2019]

If heading towards Mick, an hour away, break off the trail to the ENE before the leatherwood area – markers are not obvious at first - and soon cross a better-marked patch of leatherwood to .874, a good 45 minutes from the Waitohu–Otaki road. From here the ridge-line may be followed N to Mick, etc., and the Waitewaewae system beyond. If heading from .874 towards the Waitohu-Otaki road, keep S, watching for a turn to the WSW to pick up the Tangata Maunga trail.

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"Someone unfamiliar with the mountains and forests cannot advance [the team].
One who does not employ local guides cannot gain the advantage."

Sun Tzu The Art of War c500 B.C.


Page last modified on 2019 Sep 25 09:00

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