This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in November 1997
Otaki Forks - Field Hut - Bridge Peak - Vosseler - Penn Creek - Otaki Forks
20-22 June 1997
This was graded as a medium trip which meant a Friday night start with a walk from Otaki Forks to Field Hut. We departed the overnight carpark about 8.30pm and arrived at Field Hut (860 metres) shortly after 10.30pm with the help of fine conditions and a full moon.
Field Hut was empty but there were only three mattresses for the party of four. The leader did the honourable deed (and took over the three mattresses). The only eventful happening was the rather sharp earthquake about 4am which gave the place a good shake.
Breakfasted, we were away by 8.30am for the trek to Bridge Peak (1,421 metres) arriving there about 10.45am. The weather climbing to Bridge Peak was brilliant, with great views for the first hour and a half. Subsequently cloud rolled in from the north which was to remain over the tops for most of the morning and afternoon. With white-out conditions and a good blanket of snow it took a few minutes to find the start of the southern main range.
For the trip along the tops we needed all our storm gear as it was cold with a brisk northerly wind.
Once we descended from Bridge Peak there was little snow to be seen and the going was good. We reached the Penn Creek turn-off north of Vosseler (1,200 metres) about 12.10pm and descended for thirty minutes to find a warm spot for lunch. The going from the Vosseler turn-off was good and cairns were passed at strategic places. The visibility improved at lower levels and we were able to clearly see the bush edge we were heading for. A track come stream of sorts was followed most of the way down to the bush edge.
Following lunch we entered the bush (about 1.30pm) by passing the scarred ground on the right of the bush edge (840 metres) heading to the left in a NNW direction. We took several minutes to assure ourselves of the correct position and finally picked up the old track markers. The trip down through the bush was reasonably good going, though the occasional windfall kept us on our toes in finding the next marker. A compass was needed from time to time to check the direction. We reached the bottom of the spur about 3.45pm having followed the track markers all the way to Penn Creek Forks.
We crossed Penn Creek (240 metres) (wet feet being unavoidable) and got onto the western bank for the short walk to the hut, arriving about 4pm. Two hunters were in residence at the hut and the evening in front of a fire was very pleasant. The cloud cover cleared after dark providing another clear night.
With fine conditions the party was up and away by 9am the following morning for the walk out along Penn Creek track to Otaki Forks. The track was in better condition than four months earlier with routes marked around all the difficult slips. We reached Otaki Forks about 12.40pm for lunch in the sun at the carpark alongside the Waiotauru River.
While the Penn Creek track is officially closed, it is quite navigable, though you do need to be careful on the slips. I would not recommend its use by inexperienced trampers or children.
For this trip to commence on a Saturday morning along the above lines, it would need to be rated fit as there would be at least 9 hours of travel on Saturday in good conditions.
- Party members were
- Bernard Molloy (leader and scribe), Sieny Pollard, Alistair Betts and John Basset.