This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in November, 2000
Waiopehu Track - Oriwa Ridge - Waitewaewae Hut - Mick - Waitohu Stream
2 - 4 July 2000 (Maps S25 & S26)
After leaving a car at the Waitohu Stream road end (with kind permission of the residents) we drove to the Ōhau River valley and were on our way along the Waiopehu Track by 8am. We had a quick stop at Edwards Shelter, commenting that its very rustic qualities would most probably only be used in extreme weather; and then on to a drink stop in comforting sun at Waiopehu Hut where we were able to look north over the Rangitikei Plains to Mt Ruapehu. Lunch was taken in the shelter of tussock on the south slopes of Waiopehu, where we viewed the clouds banked over the main range due to the chilly southeasterly wind, but with Mt Crawford prominent in all its magnificence.
Mid-afternoon saw our arrival at the Oriwa Ridge biv site. We soon had a campfire going and a primus to provide that initial cuppa to deter the effects of the mid-winter southeasterly, although the sky stayed clear for the evening. The biv is in a good state of repair and the four of us were very comfortable for the night.
We awoke the next morning to a damp chilliness, with mist occasionally settling on to the tree tops. Our progress south along Oriwa Ridge was steady during the day, with stops kept to a minimum because of the damp chilly conditions. The challenging reputation of this route can be appreciated over long sections, but in other sections the travel is reasonably straight forward.
Our descent off the south end of Oriwa Ridge was not ideal and we ended by descending a spur into the Waitewaewae River. However the river was very low and we easily negotiated our way down to the Waitewaewae-Otaki forks. Limited vision for our last river crossing of the day, just on full darkness, resulted in a "sanitizing of the undies", to quote Dave, and we were glad to get to the hut and get a fire going as the mist of the day changed to steady light rain.
The rain had ceased by the time we started our third day, but the bush was wet and the winter chill factor was enhanced by the continuing brisk southerly. We started our day by going along the main track out from Waitewaewae Hut until we got to the top of the first slip just downstream from the hut. We then clambered up a short spur to a plateau area and then went up the prominent spur on the true right of Boyd-Wilson Stream. Once on the top of the main ridge progress north along the ridge was continuous to ward off the chilling effect of the southerly. Between bump 975 and Mick we had to force our way through wet, leatherwood-enhanced scrub that has overgrown the former track, and experienced light snow flurries, as we looked out below the cloud to sun on the Kapiti coast.
After dropping off west from bump 860 along a well-defined track we finally found a sheltered spot and Dave commented that "it was alright to stop for lunch" - at 3.30pm! It was only a brief stop as we were mindful of the short amount of daylight, and so it was quickly down to Waitohu Stream and then the long plod out to reach the road end just on dark.
Trip members were: Bill Allcock, Masaki Kojima, Dave Reynolds, Mike Thompson