MacKays Crossing - Mt Wainui - Orange Hut (map R26)
16 June 2001 (M/F)
Given the 45 minute drive from Wellington to start the trip, an early start seemed sensible and as it later transpired a good move. We left the city at 6.30 and were driving up the farm to the car park at the Whareroa Landcorp farm at MacKays Crossing by 7.20; in fact, past the car park and we were retracing the road back to the car park. The access to Mt Wainui was initially by way of a good four wheel drive track just past the farm house we had already attempted to visit. On the way to the bush track we had some good views and some low mist which materialised into light rain and later in the afternoon into rather heavy rain. We were on the scrubby summit of Mt Wainui before nine but the views were limited by some imminent showers and a misty view of the Kapiti Coast. The better views were to the south, which included the spur which was to occupy and frustrate our best efforts for a good part of the day.
From the summit we headed initially south-west before bush-bashing to the south-east to pick up the spur. Once on the spur the travel was good; in fact, so good that we missed an abrupt turn to the east at about 700m. A short back-track saw us on the right route and heading towards bump 550 where I had suggested our navigation skills would be well tested. This area looks tricky on the map but the reality is more difficult than the map would indicate.
After lunch we decided on a route and set off but we got too far south and ended up in a major branch of the Whakatikei River at about 776177. After a short, steep, slippery descent we were in a steep-sided little stream where the first obstacle was a little waterfall which the rain had made very slippery. This was.followed by a much more demanding waterfall and log jam, the descent of which had an unacceptable risk factor. A retreat seemed the best option. From the top of the first of the little waterfalls a good route was found on the spur to the south which the map indicated had some disused logging tracks.
The good travel gave way to some of the worst Keikei I have encountered anywhere. Trying to penetrate it was a long, slow and at times airborne struggle. As the Keikei travel got easier it was replaced by tight second-growth, laced with Lawyer. At last we made it onto an old logging track which we followed for a time until it returned us back to the Keikei and lawyer and once again our progress slowed. As time progressed, the thoughts of spending a night on the spur did pass through some minds. On with the battle, until an easy slope appeared to give good access to the stream. Fortunately, this was the case and once in the stream we had only to follow it to the Orange Hut.
The stream, a major tributary of the Whakatikei River, was cold and the round bed rocks very slippery. The hand holds were cutty grass. After about 40 minutes, with numb feet and cut hands, we arrived at Orange Hut, which is very comfortable with a concrete floor, bunks and a wood burner.
Given the time (5pm) we were unable to linger and were soon heading for the top of the ridge and MacKays Crossing. Before reaching the top of the ridge it was dark, but from the top of the ridge the lights of the Kapiti Coast made a great view. The leader selected a farm track to follow down, which turned out to be a pylon track and would have taken us some distance from our destination. Ken retrieved the situation by finding a farm track which delivered us right to our cars. There is some work to do to sort out the spur off Mt Wainui which can wait for a future occasion.
Permission to go through the Landcorp farm can be gained from Richard Whiteman, the manager of Whareroa sub-station. The time for the trip was 12 hours, some of which had been in difficult country. This time would be reduced by taking a better spur off bump 650m but the second growth would still make progress slow at times. The trip turned out to be a real challenge with moments of drama all adding up to a good day out.
Party members: Yvonne Ashworth, Colin Cook, Ken Fraser, Kate Mcpherson, Bernard Molloy, Tim Stone and Dave Reynolds (leader and scribe).