This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in July 1998
Mangaone North Road - Pukehinau Stream - Tent
Saturday 16 May 1998
Recently Saturday trips were described as a taste of the 'remote'. This trip was a reminder just how remote, even close to an upmarket centre like Waikanae.
We entered the bush on Hemi Matenga, close to the centre of Waikanae-take the third turn on the left over the railway line and follow the Bush Walk signs. We followed the standard bush walk track through a most impressive kohekohe and nikau palm forest up to the top and along the ridge, then forked off right to follow a DoC bait station route, which took us to a microwave tower.
From there we descended to the scene of an aircraft crash (March 18,1949, NZ Airways Corporation, 13 passengers and 2 crew killed). It did not surprise us that the plane had clipped a 60 metre tree as there were plenty to choose from. The amount of debris was quite astounding, with one section up in a tree where it had grown over the years after hooking on a sapling.
We then proceeded down to what we thought was Kapakapanui Stream. Welcome to the remote. As we confirmed later, it was not the Kapakapanui and there were problems ahead.
We followed the stream down, increasingly concerned that side streams were not coming through on the true right but the left. At 2.30pm we were faced with a waterfall with a compulsory chest-deep splash pool and could only guess at what was around the corner. It was already half dark as the gorge sides were high and the logical conclusion was that more waterfalls would follow, possibly impassable, with a fair chance we may not make it out that night.
There was considerable debate about what to do. The group was divided on whether to climb up on to the ridge. This would involve going back up the stream a way as the gorge was now near vertical. We were also aware from our descent that vegetation was pretty unstable from permanent wetness. One party member had already had a fall in the slippery stream gorge and, after seven hours tramping, the prospect of a major climb and backtrack with an hour or two in the dark at the end did not appeal.
While discussion was going on, leader Chris Everett was scouting downstream and returned to confirm that we were way off our intended route but there was a way to at least get out. Surprisingly the next section of the stream eased out a bit and we could cross a saddle into the Mangaone Walkway carpark. This option would take us to a point nearly four hours walk from our cars, but at least we would be 'out'.
We decided to go with the saddle, and an hour or so of thick supplejack later, we could see the pines of Mangaone's carpark. The only problem was the extensive blackberry between us and our goal. Twenty minutes and three forays into the blackberry later, we at last reached the carpark by trudging upstream.
It was now nearly 5pm. We managed to flag down a car to call a taxi to take our drivers back to Waikanae so they could then bring the cars to pick us up. (About this time, we began noticing that there are some `unusual' people resident along the Mangaone South Road.)
The rest of us decided to keep walking along the road to keep warm. It is a strange sensation, trudging along a road like that in the dark, but for a few torches. It had been a long day, at times a bit of a strain on the group dynamics, but we were fortunately a pretty cohesive group with good bushcraft training and experience. We were picked up and enjoyed the luxury of a car ride back about 6.45pm.
The group was: Chris Everett (leader), Peter Jagger, Gordon McKenzie, Glenys Evans, Ken Fraser, Dave Dyett, Yvonne Ashworth, Syd Moore, Margaret Cona1 (scribe) and non-members Eva Freshwater and Les.