This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in November 2005
Ohau (Poad’s Road) – Square Knob – Tawirikohukohu
September 3 2005
The Tararua Tramping Club has many members who have been in the club for more than 20 years and have ‘been there and done that’. It is always a bonus to find a bump, peak or route that they haven’t visited before, and that was a highlight of this trip.
The intended route was Ohau – Square Knob – North Ohau, but that was to change as the day unfolded. We headed off at around 8.30 to the site of the old Ohau shelter. From there we dropped into the South Ohau and took a spur up towards the ridge on a bearing of about 60 degrees. Before the trip I had done a search of the club’s database and found a report of a trip led by Glenys Evans in the area in 1998, then had a chat to Glenys. I fully expected to find this spur to be very overgrown, with a few old ‘Jagger’ markers. However, there were still distinct sections of the old route and quite a few white metal markers.
We had morning tea at about 650 metres; it was a steep climb up without a break until we reached the ridge and a flattish section at about 800m. From there it was only a short, easy walk to Square Knob, which was, unfortunately, identifiable by food wrappers and egg shell. I had first visited the spot as a new member ten years ago and fondly remembered the lunch chat with Dave Dyett, Teri Goh, Peter Jagger, Michael Bartlett and Hugh Fyson, whose names I did not know at the time – nor did I have a clue how we’d got there and how we got back. Now I was a trip leader, thanks to the example and training by Peter and Michael.
It was here we had the first surprise of the day. Going up the ridge, Neil had been talking about his attempts to get to Tawirikohukohu and the thick scrub that had beaten him back. Here, from Square Knob, was a cleared track heading in the direction of that prized bump. We decided to cancel all other appointments and head up there; the weather was perfect, the only problem being water as we had all planned to fill up in the North Ohau. It was a very steep 300m climb – eyes skyward for the last half hour – but we were on Tawirikohukohu by 12.30. We had a very pleasant lunch break checking out the 360-degree panorama from a new viewpoint.
Time to drop into the North Ohau was running out so we decided to return to Square Knob and take a spur back to the road end. This was where we had our next surprise. Our initial descent on some ribbon markers was clearly heading north when we needed west, so we sidled a couple of spurs across and were astounded to spot a classy hunters’ biv. It had a proper boxed front step, an outside path with windbreak fence and a stand-up interior with stainless steel sink, bunks and the rest, all in excellent order.
It was shortly after leaving the biv that we located another fairly well-marked and cut route heading in the direction we wanted. It was now 3 p.m. and there was some urgency to get down this long spur and out before dark.
At about 4.30, we reached the fence on the edge of the pine plantation. The track disappeared at this point, so we had to head directly down through fairly thick bush and gorse to the South Ohau. A sidle along the precipitous bank found a way down to the river and across, and we were back to the cars at 5.20.
I understand there has been some criticism of these Saturday exploration trips as ‘elitist’. I find it very hard to understand why there is anything negative about a group of members organising the kind of trip they enjoy; the club exists primarily for club members. For me, the newest member of that group, it was the adventure in these trips that attracted me to join the club and enjoy an activity none of my friends or family were in to. To have met a group who enjoy the outdoors in the way I do is such a bonus in my life.
Those on the trip were: Neil Challands, Marg Conal (leader and scribe), Colin Cook, Ken Fraser, Susan Guscott and Tim Stone.