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Trip Reports 2001-05-12 Orongorongo Ridge

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This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in July 2001

Orongorongo Ridge - Vicinity of Bump 830 (Map 260-R27, R28 & Pt Q27)

12 May 2001

We set out over the Orongorongo track and up past Whakanui Stream. Reconnaissance of a section of the Orongorongo main ridge was our aim.

Beyond Matthews Stream the four-wheel drive road crosses to the true right of the Orongorongo River, passes two side streams entering on the true left, and then recrosses to the true left. We left it here, map ref 789848, at the entrance to Hut #64 and followed a well padded track up the spur - crossing a line of three-inch metal piping which may have had some connection with the generous number of electric light bulbs we saw hanging in the hut.

The track rises steeply, passing numerous stout if somewhat bowed and vertically challenged lancewood. We had a good view of the contortions of the adjoining spur, with Bump 446 on its lower reaches. Climbing past a large open slip on the right near the top of the spur, we pressed on SE to reach the eastern escarpment. The turn off to our spur was marked by an orange DoC triangle nailed in regulation fashion to the S side of a tree. From here the ridge runs south, west, then south again.

Turning south along the ridge, ten minutes brought a feasible camp-site, noted for future use. About an hourís generally good travel toward bump 830 ensued. Ascending the bump, we took the west side, a tangle of spaniard grass, leatherwood and matagouri - at times we had to crawl.

Bump 830 is marked by a grove of substantial tree fuschia - one of which carries a pink tie. Initially uncertain of our location, we spent some time checking alternatives before heading west from the tie; we were indeed on the desired exit spur. The descent was uneventful as far as Bump 470; there, the river seemed near, a clearing of tall mature beech spread below us and we forsook the spur. This was a mistake; Orongorongo dismounts are not to be taken lightly, especially near the bottom! The slope steepened and we had to fight windfall, scrub and unsure footing to regain the spur, which joined the Matthews track about five minutes up from Baines Hut.

A speedy trip back to the Catchpool got us out before the road gate was locked.

The leaderless rabble was Bill Allcock, Colin Cook (scribe), Susan Guscott, Bernard Malloy.

Colinís Comments

Several knowledgeable friends have gently pointed out to me that matagouri (Discaria toumatou, also known as Wild Irishman) is unlikely to be sighted in the Orongorongos, as claimed in my trip report in the July Tramper.

Long thorns, divarication, and needing to be crawled through do not matagouri make, it seems. Indeed it may be a South Island only species as Isobel Gabites in The Native Garden (Random House New Zealand 1998) seems to imply, saying also it is to be found in "dry rainshadow shrubland" and that it "can withstand searing summer heat, drying winds and heavy frosts." On the other hand J T Salmon in his 1968 Field Guide to the Alpine Plants of New Zealand says matagouri is "Found in subalpine riverbeds, grasslands, stony and rocky places throughout New Zealand."

Still, none of this sounds much like the Orongorongo main ridge. But Iíll stand by the tree fuschia sighting!

Colin Cook

Page last modified on 2006 Jan 05 21:38

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