A Rain-Ruined Recce
21 August 1999
Map S25 Levin
It was with a bit of reluctance that the mind reacted to the 5.30 call of the alarm on a stormy Saturday morning. After picking up my two companions and driving through heavy rain, we were crossing the Mangahao No. 2 reservoir dam by 8.30 on our way to do a recce to Burn Hut and environs.
As we followed the track on the true right downstream from the dam, the rain increased in intensity and care was required over one particularly fragile slip that fell directly into the Mangahao. When we reached the third side-stream our day's plans changed. This stream is immediately before the spur that leads up to the top of the very northern end of the Tararua Range, where Burn Hut is located. The influence of the rain on this stream in its gorge made us think carefully about where we would cross, as the confluence with the Mangahao River is only about twenty metres downstream from the crossing. We knew we could cross, but with the heavy rain continuing we did not fancy our chances of getting back across four or five hours later. (This small, unnamed stream has a drainage area similar to Marchant Stream.)
Decision made ... we would leave Burn Hut for another day. So it was back along the riverside track to the car where, as a novelty for a day trip, we had morning tea in the comfort of the car, as the rain continued to fall.
It had been a few years since any of us had been in the Mangahao Valley so we decided to re-acquaint ourselves. We drove up to the No.1 reservoir dam, and then toddled in to Harris Creek Hut for lunch. DoC has done a good job of maintaining this track even though the rain helped create some challenging mud holes. With the continuing rain we also had to give serious consideration to where we crossed Dick Creek, just before reaching the hut.
Harris Creek Hut is due for removal by DoC and its current condition reflects this impending demise, although we were grateful for its shelter for lunch. On our return along the track the skies lightened and we actually saw patches of blue. By the time we reached the car, shortly after 4.30, the skies were grey again and the return drive to Wellington saw intermittent use of the windshield wipers.
Although our main objective had not been achieved, we had an enjoyable day's outing in a valley not regularly visited for day trips. And another day trip still remains to be completed... !
Bill Allcock (scribe); Dave Reynolds; Tim Stone.