This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in August 1997
Sunny Grove - Puketaha Saddle - West Branch Little Huia Creek
29 April 1997
This trip was primarily a recce to ascertain whether a descent from the Puketaha Saddle into the headwaters of the West Branch Little Huia Creek was feasible for a Saturday club trip.
Begin at sunny Grove, Wainuiomata, use the Whakanui Track, cross to Whakanui Saddle, and climb to point 800m at head of East Whakanui Ridge. About 2 hours so far if in good weather.
Continue north, gradually descending to Puketaha Saddle in another hour. Now take an easterly magnetic course. In open forest sidle left first, then right for longer, and left again above the tiny creek draining from under the saddle. Sidle on the left of a small waterfall, keep further left to a side-spur which descends to creek forks as a larger tributary comes in from the left or north. This confluence flattens out for a while to become the true headwaters with typical small rocks. The descent from the saddle to here is about 190m. A little downstream on the true right is thick second growth vegetation, caused by a natural fire many years ago. (Just beyond this is an easy climb right of about 160m to the 1921 Bridle Track if so desired.)
However, if more adventure is considered ...
Stay in the creek bed for about 10 minutes until waterfalls bar progress. Use a longish sidle on the true right to bypass two waterfalls, crossing a deep gully en route. Very steep bush faces are now on both sides of the creek. Two more waterfalls are ahead and this time the true left offers a good sidle. Soon, a marked route is met (from Puketaha Peak), continue down this back to the creek, where there are cairns. Saddle to here takes about one and a quarter hours. This is a convenient lunch spot. Looking upstream, huge old windfalls straddle the creek.
After lunch, climb out up to the steep true right, through open forest up to the Bridle Track, then continue up to point 800m again, and return via familiar ground back to Sunny Grove.
Total time for a M/F party about eight and a half hours.
- Recce done by
- Peter Jagger (scribe) and Michael Bartlett in fine weather.