Oteranga Bay Road – Oteranga Bay – Terawhiti Hill – Ohau Hill – White Rock Hill
Saturday July 16 2005
Ever since I had been over the Oteranga Road by vehicle earlier this year, I was determined to return as soon as possible and climb up to the ridge above Cape Terawhiti. For my medium-fit trip, I was looking for a route close to Wellington that would suit the short hours of winter daylight. Terawhiti Station is not the usual off-track route as there are quite a few tracks, and the best off-track plans could be defeated by gorse, but I was delighted to get permission to go through the property. Five of us set off just after 8 a.m. with plenty of warm gear, expecting inclement weather.
My decision to walk the 10km road in was probably not popular, but I was determined to go in there on foot this one time as the spectacular views could never be appreciated by car. We soon warmed up on our walk to the summit and our side trip to Mt Misery at 483m. Hugh was busy taking photos below the trig and we did not notice him moving off back to the road, thinking we had left Mt Misery and deserted him. Fortunately, Mike had arranged to return at this point, so he agreed to check in case Hugh had backtracked, which enabled us to go on and see if we could locate him further down the road, which we did some 45 minutes later. It was a salutary lesson on how easy it was to lose someone on a wide road in very open country.
Running a little late, we were approaching Oteranga Bay around morning tea time, so we perched on the edge above the power cable building and enjoyed a classic ocean view in clearing weather. It was also a good spot from which to select a spur up to the Terawhiti Hill ridge.
We travelled about 25 minutes up Black Gully and then began our ascent. At first there was a bit of gorse to negotiate, but we otherwise had a fairly clear passage through the scrub, no doubt kept open by cattle movements. Obviously an exposed ridge face, there was tussock at 230 metres and acyphilla spines from about 400m. Views of Oteranga Bay and the Cook Strait ferry were inspiring. The going was easy with just a bit of rock to negotiate before we reached the wide ridge top in time for lunch at the Terawhiti Trig at noon. From there we had 360-degree views, taking in Mana and Kapiti Islands, various masts, the Brooklyn windmill, a peek at Karori and a rather hazy line of cloud over the South Island.
From the trig we could see Ohau Point and began a debate about how far we would be able to go in the time. The weather was now clear, with a few bursts of cool wind from time to time, so travel was easy, but we had lost some time and finally decided to stop a few hundred metres short of Ohau Hill and descend to meet the route crossing Black Gully and rising to the former wind test mast at 312m. From there we continued to climb across Shepherd’s Gully, where we noticed some stock yards and a large building, then up onto the ridge overlooking Te Ikaamaru Bay and Ohau Bay. The views were sweeping and the men of the party were overwhelmed by the beauty of it all and asked for a sit down to take it all in. Although we still couldn’t see the hoped-for whale, the sunshine was most enjoyable and Neil continued to entertain us with snippets from Terawhiti Goldfields by James Brodie.
From this point it was little more than 30 minutes to join the road down and we were back at the cars in just over 7 hours, so we would have had time to get to Ohau Hill and return before dark. However, I decided I would run another trip next year, if we were able to get access again, perhaps driving the road in and then going the full length of the ridge down to the beach at Ohau Point and back via the ore stamping mill and the ridge above.
Party members were: Mike Arnold, Hugh Barr, Marg Conal (leader and scribe), Ken Fraser, and Neil Challands