Dobsons - Phillips Stream
Saturday 16 January 1999
This was organised as a combined Kaumatua Club and Tararua Club trip. David McNabb who was leader of the Kaumatua members had done a reconnaissance for the whole route a few months earlier, and this was of great assistance on the day. The full length of Phillips Stream is recognised as one of the particularly rough stream journeys in the Tararuas, with the roughness persisting down to its lower reaches, almost to the confluence with the Eastern Hutt River.
A 7am meeting at Brown Owl gave us an early start. From the bump above Dobsons we dropped down the spur into Phillips Stream. Months of low stream flow had left the boulders in the bed of the stream covered with slippery growth, while heavy rain two days earlier had raised the stream level and discoloured the water. The resulting conditions meant walking on slippery boulders below the water level which could not be seen through the darkened water requiring the trampers to be continually reacting to what they were feeling with their feet. One of the party commented on feeling mentally tired by the end of the day.
For the middle section of the stream below the principal forks, David McNabb's reconnaissance experience led us to adopt a high sidle along the very steep side slopes of the true left of the valley. Where the sidle crossed deeply incised tributary streams the channels of these streams were contained between rock walls and it was necessary to climb up and down these walls. We were continually climbing up and down on these sidles to bypass obstacles.
For the bottom section of the stream we dropped down to the bed and travelled down the waterway, climbing over boulders and occasionally sidling past deep pools and steep rocks. We finally reached the Eastern Hutt confluence at 3pm, after 6 hours in the stream valley.
We still had the solid one and a half hour walk out over the 4-wheel drive track, including a 320 metre climb and a 360 metre descent, but we no longer had to control every step that we took - it was almost a relaxed walk!
Party members: Kaumatua Club - Dave McNabb (leader), Keith Thompson, Bill Dawson Tararua Club-Glenys Evans (leader), Alison Handley, Jennifer Roberts and Gordon McKenzie (scribe).