This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in November 2005
Whakanui Track – Orongorongo Track (M)
10 July 2005 (Maps R27 & R28)
The seven of us congregated at Wellington Railway station on Sunday 10 July and left shortly after 9am taking two vehicles with us. We journeyed over the Wainuiomata Hill, passed the main shopping centre, and then turned left into Hine Road. The passengers alighted and waited at Richard Prouse Park, while the two drivers did a car shuffle, leaving one vehicle at the Catchpool Carpark and returning to Richard Prouse Park in the other.
We started the Whakanui at about 10.15am and climbed the steep-graded track until we reached the McKerrow/Whakanui junction. After a quick rest we tramped another half-hour, had lunch, then continued following the long and windy Whakanui track. A major slip made negotiating the final descent a little challenging but we all made it down safely and had a well-earned afternoon tea break beside the river.
Access to the Big Bend track was blocked by a slip so we had no choice but to criss-cross our way down the Orongorongo River. Despite its shallow appearance, there were a couple of times when “Bushcraft river-crossing skills” came in handy. It was along here that we encountered our only incidence of rain, lasting less time than it took to don our wet weather attire.
We passed small piles of debris from the late March/early April flooding and paused briefly to view the wooden steps that once lead to the now decimated Waeranga Hut before reaching the humped bridge at about 4:15pm.
Daylight was beginning to dim as we walked along the Orongorongo track, passing information signs with notices concerning the disappearance of Mrs Stewart, and a car seen near the area, attached to them. Some of the bridges and parts of the track had been washed out but there were well-marked detours that saw us safely back to the Catchpool carpark. A final car shuttle brought a close to our Sunday medium tramp.
Tired feet, muddy boots and good times had by all.
Party members: Leslie Blackwell (leader, scribe), Peter Penhall, Peter Silvester, Julia Landymore, Brian Landymore, Bob Cyffers, Maria Guevara