Waiorongomai - Bump 495 - Bump 540 - Bump 720 - Bump 480
Saturday 17 November 2001, Map R27
The mountain forecast was not encouraging: '...widespread rain in the morning with some heavy falls possible... A change about the middle of Saturday to gale southerlies with snow lowering to 1000 metres.'! Arriving Saturday morning at the Waiorongomai picnic area there was a blustery southerly with overcast skies but the river was low. We decided to do the trip in the reverse sense, river first, in anticipation of its rising during the day. Twenty minutes up the river parkas were donned, twenty minutes further on they were taken off - and that was all we saw of the much-vaunted southerly!
Past the Hut our route lay up the spur, which rises steeply on the northern side of Oreore Stream. Markers may be found at the forks and after a brief steep climb through supplejack and kiekie a pleasant track develops providing good views over the steep country in the West Waiorongomai catchment and more distant views to twin peaked Bawbaw. Continuing southwest, the fabled Waiorongomai saddle country was on our right . Two or three narrow deep channels draining into the Oreore crossed our path before a steep rise signalled the higher ground leading to Bump 480. We were now on the main watershed ridge. From 480 this ridge descends south to a saddle at 400m, (probably the lowest saddle between the south coast and some point north of Eketahuna). However a good pad with the occasional old blaze enticed us down a spur leading more to the west. We reached a beautiful sunlit glade, the confluence of two streams, one carrying brown, stained waters from the flat Waiorongomai Saddle lands, the other clear, faster flowing water from the heights to the south. Turning up this stream we soon regained the ridge and began the climb to Bump 720.
For a while this was more of a struggle, scrub and lawyer aplenty, and Bill remarked that we three were 'not a very good combo when it comes to vegetation' - a rueful reminder of earlier Orongorongo adventures. Towards the top the vegetation was bigger and passage easier and we found a sheltered lunch spot on the lip of the drop into upper Oreore country. We were four and a half hours out from the road end and, as it transpired, only about ten minutes from the top of Bump 720. The gusty wind was cold but there were patches of blue sky.
At Bump 720 our route left the main watershed. Within an hour we had reached un-numbered Bump 700. Then on, past striking views to the north, to Bump 540. Proceeding north from Bump 540 the eastern side of the ridge probably provides easier going as the route descends to a broad flat saddle, swings northeast over a low mound and then turns southeast. At about this turning we noted markers for the route down to the Hut but we continued southeast, climbing steeply onto Bump 495.
A rest and some food, and we were off north-northeast on the last leg. More scrub and lawyer (the eastern edge is probably the better route) as we descended to a flat stretch at about 360m and sought the spur starting at about map ref #877918 and leading east then north. Yvonne was sure she had found it, but the leader over-ruled. We overshot and ended up descending the stream that joins the Waiorongomai River at a map ref #884924. In fact it crosses the track only some 25 metre from the foot of the spur and apart from one little scramble not far from the track seems to provide a reasonable alternative to the spur - although the climb out at its head is steep.
Ten hours gotowo.
Party members: Bill Allcock, Yvonne Ashworth, Colin Cook (leader/scribe).