Kaitoke Waterworks - Bump 583 - Hutt Forks - Lower Quoin Ridge - Eastern Hutt (Map S26 Carterton)
26 May 2001
It was an unanticipated optimism that pervaded the party as we left the Waterworks carpark at eight o’clock that Saturday morning. The two previous days had been shockers weatherwise and all members had arrived that morning expecting a wet, uncomfortable day. As we entered the bush there was blue sky and no wind but the vegetation was literally dripping and parkas were worn by some. However, it did not take long to get warm as we immediately made our way up the 380 metres to spot height 583.
From there we headed east down into and up out of a shallow dip and on to a rounded mound, and slightly beyond before the leader realised we had gone too far along the track to Warren’s Saddle. The mound was our turn off point to go down a spur to Hutt Forks. On previous visits to the mound there had been metal plaques indicating the way to Warren’s Saddle. Colin also confirmed sighting the plaques. However, on that day they were nowhere to be seen. On my recce in January the next portion of our route had been made easier to follow in that area of rounded topography by occasional dobs of paint. Those also were not to be seen on that Saturday morning. So it was out with the compasses to get us through the close-packed regrowth on the broad top of the spur. As we descended the spur to Hutt Forks we encountered dobs of paint I had recalled from my recce. Speculative conversation focused on who may have removed the plaques and the paint. A welcome break for hot drinks and energisers was taken at the bottom of the spur, which is just downstream of the junction of the Eastern and Western Hutt Rivers.
After the stop we sidled along the true left of the Eastern Hutt to the first safe crossing point and then followed the track on the true right to Hutt Forks. From the Forks there is a disced route up the lower portion of Quoin Ridge. This route is steepish, with patches of tangled vegetation for the initial hundred metres or so and then the gradient becomes kinder. About the 700 metre height we met the turn-off to the route down to the sidle track above the Eastern Hutt gorge, followed the route down and had lunch when we got to the sidle track.
With the cool damp in the bush we did not linger over lunch and started our afternoon’s adventure by following the spur that runs east of south from the high point of the sidle track. At the end of the spur the final descent into the river bed is quite steep and care was taken by all. We crossed to the true left of the Eastern Hutt and followed the river course back to Phillips Stream and hence to the end of the access road.
We then sidled up the true left of Phillips Stream and after some route clarification located the private, almost-derelict hut that sits on a terrace above the stream about 300 metres from the end of the access road. Directly behind the hut we went up the spur that leads to spot height 592 where we nestled in the tussock out of the westerly breeze and soaked up some meagre heat from the sun as we finished the last of the hot drinks and food.
In a very short time thereafter we were at the top of the access road and started down, only to turn off west, on to the track some call the Brown Track and others call the Big Stump track. This track took us down through the basin immediately east of Pakuratahi Forks for a 3.45 finish at the car park.
The trip had been graded medium-fit and the day had proven to be an adventurous circuit, with all members experiencing some new territory. Although finishing in just under eight hours, the travel had been almost completely off regular tracks; there were three unrelenting ascents of between 350-400 metres each; two river crossings; and compulsory compass use. The party members were all of comparable fitness and we were able to move cohesively and steadily throughout the day.
Party members were: Yvonne Ashworth, Colin Cook, Ken Fraser, Susan Guscott, Steve Howell, Simon Leary, Marion Rough, Chris Tobin, Gill Vincent, Bill Allcock (leader and scribe) and Scooter.