Otaki Forks - Waitatapia - Saddle Creek (Map S26)
7 July 2001
Nine and one half hours gotowo, including almost an hour back-tracking from two wrong turnings, and a delightful twenty minutes lolling in late afternoon sun on high pasture, looking along the lower Otaki and across the ocean to the dark distant outline of Mount Taranaki.
We left the Otaki Forks-Waitewaiwai Hut track at the top of Saddle Creek (490 m) heading south by compass to gain the ridge to Bump 876. We soon noticed blue plastic ties, which persisted right to the top. Unnecessary and even unwanted going up, but no doubt helpful on the way down since the lower section of the ridge seemed to calve a number of large side spurs sloping off diagonally down to Plateau Stream, highly plausible distractions for a descending party.
A small knob displaced East by a few metres ended the ascent. The route veered right, descended and rose again to Bump 876. Here a west-leading spur should be ignored (we didnít, the first wrong turning) if the main ridge is to be followed to the saddle whose entrance (marked by a blue tie) lies perhaps 15 minutes past the knob.
The saddle, which drops to just under 700 m, included a couple of steep pitches on the way down - notches in the ridge which are clearly visible from the Judd Ridge track in the neighbourhood of Dennan. About an hourís easy travel took us from Bump 876 to Waitatapia, (862 m) which carries a survey pipe. Five minutes beyond the pipe a marked route (one blue and one yellow tie) led west, but we continued along the main ridge descending to about 770 m to catch a side spur leading straight to the Otaki footbridge. As it happened we went too far down, with a couple of forays to the west, but a big knob astride the ridge at about 700 m was a clear indication of a second wrong turning (or more accurately, failure to turn). Back-tracking, we soon found the spur, its start bearing a small discretely placed red ribbon. In fact it is well signalled by a small semi-clearing on the ridge just to the north.
Party members were Yvonne Ashworth, Colin Cook (leader/scribe), Ken Fraser, Dave Reynolds, Tim Stone.