This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in May 1999 Bull Hill Circuit - Northern Aorangi Range Saturday 27 March 1999 On a fine, clear Saturday morning eleven of us accumulated and headed over the Rimutakas. South-east from Martinborough, Bull Hill loomed larger as we approached. This was the first club Saturday trip (as far as I know) into the Aorangi Range, but the club regularly visits this range on weekend trips. My family connection with this range is also fairly long. Ernst (Dad) has been hunting deer here for over 30 years, and my brothers and I were taken on many trips here by him and Anna when we were younger.
We left the cars by a locked Water Catchment Board gate on the Dyerville road, and after negotiating the barbed wire atop this gate we followed a 4-wheel drive track up through pine forest above the Dry River. After passing around the crest of a massive old slip (now well vegetating but I remember it being raw gravel cliffs) the unmarked foot track we were on petered out just before we hit the marked DoC track. This track comes up a steep pine spur from the Dry River valley.
A few minutes later we were in the attractive beech forest of the Haurangi State Forest Park. The main difference in bush from the Tararuas and Rimutakas is that these more eastern hills are drier. When north-west clag blankets the other ranges the "Haurangis" are often clear, though the southerlies come straight in here.
After passing the bush saddle (with its familiar camp site) near bump 598m, the track climbed up into cooler, gnarled mossy beech and soon we were at the top of Bull Hill (863m). The sturdy wooden viewing platform had just about enough room for all of us, and gave good views above the tree canopy out over the golden Wairarapa Plains.
Then it was back into the bush as we headed west along the tops, following remnants of an old hunters track through the dry open beech forest, interspersed with occasional dense bands of beech saplings. Along here, Marg spotted a morepork and we stood admiring it for a while. We stopped for lunch in a pleasant patch of open beech with the sun filtering down through the trees. Over the next bump and Ernst led us onto the correct spur and down north-east onto a gentle saddle, passing another old campsite. Here he picked up the old track again and soon we were on bump 662m and heading north-west along the ridge out to the edge of the Water Board land.
The pines on this side of the Dry River have been logged and so the last hour was at a fast clip down logging roads until we crossed the Dry River. A small river, it is named because of a broad gravel section of riverbed where the water disappears underground. Then, after Ernst located the benched track (obscured by logging debris) we followed this up to the Dyerville road. Into the cars and it was homeward-bound, after a quick stop for a drink under the sycamore tree in the garden bar of Martinborough's Pukemanu Tavern.
The trip took six and a half hours. Party members: Michael Bartlett, Marg Conal, Dave Dyett, Alison Handley, Ernst Hubmann (leader), Franz Hubmann (scribe), Peter Jagger, Gordon McKenzie, Chris Pinfield, Dave Reynolds and Tim Stone.