Waitangi Day Wanderings (Map S26 Carterton)
6 February 2001
With the unavailability of an extended weekend attached to the national holiday, casual discussions led to an informal day trip into the Hutt River catchment for Marg Conal, Masaki Kojima, Dave Reynolds and myself, Bill Allcock.
The initial intent was to go up the Western Hutt River and then up a prominent spur on to Quoin Ridge. As trampersí luck would have it, the Wellington regionís first significant rain in over a month occurred the night before Waitangi Day, and when we got to Hutt Forks the Western Hutt River was up and brownish in colour.
A quick decision was made to attempt option two for the day - a similar type of trip from the Eastern Hutt River valley. So it was back to the swing bridge and then over the disced sidle track on the true right above the lower gorge of the Eastern Hutt River.
The Eastern Hutt River has a much smaller catchment than its western counterpart and although it was up a bit, it was still running clear and presented no obstacle to river travel on the day.
From the grass flat where the sidle track meets the river upstream of the gorge we were able to sight the intended spur. Being an informal trip, and therefore somewhat more relaxed with regard to intent, instead of going up the river bed we searched around and picked up the route in the bush on the true right of the river. This is a recognisable padded route (no discs, but an occasional aged blaze) that is a good wet weather alternative up the valley.
We soon were at the base of the intended spur (985174) and after an initial bit of scrambling we were on the crown of the spur. The bush was mature and open, with numerous animal tracks up the well-defined spur and we comfortably gained the 400 metres to meet the track on the crown of Quoin Ridge. Dave found a sun-splashed space covered in soft moss, which made a very comfortable lunch spot.
After a prolonged lunch we headed down Quoin Ridge and easily picked up the indicators (a directional arrow blaze and a notched round WRC disc) to the route on the left leading down to the sidle track. Going down this route there are old round metal discs and fading dobs of paint to assist passage.
Once we were down to the high point of the sidle track it was down and along the disced track to the Phillips Stream junction for a drink before the up and over on the access road back to the car park at Kaitoke Regional Park. It had been a very pleasant day in a special, unspoiled river valley and we experienced some new, easily travelled, off-track terrain to recommend to club members.