Waiopehu – Te Matawai – Ohau
Labour Weekend 2005 - 22 to 24 October
Six club members left Wellington early on the Saturday morning of Labour Weekend for Poad’s Rd, Levin, to do an easy-medium trip to Waiopehu and Te Matawai huts in the Tararuas. And what a muddy trip it was! The weather was fine though, with hardly any wind all weekend, so we couldn’t complain (Paul, our very own weather man, had done well). After the long grind up the hill, we lunched in the sun at Edwards Shelter, where there’s a convenient water supply. More mud, and even more mud, until we finally sighted the new Waiopehu Hut up in the leatherwood and dracophyllum. Vicki had warned us that it was a cold hut: there’s no heating, and the lack of double glazing means that you have to go outside to enjoy the great views of the Manawatu, the coast, and Ruapehu. Inside, the windows fogged up rapidly, and yes, we did need all the clothes we had with us to keep ourselves warm. One highlight of our meal that evening was Vicki’s red pepper dip ... yum!
Next morning we had stunning views of Mts Ruapehu and Taranaki, the latter seeming much higher than we’d ever seen before (see Paul’s explanation elsewhere in 2005-10-23WeatherEffects), so it was on with the filthy boots and gaiters, and off we set on the rollercoaster trip to Te Matawai. Up, down and up to Twin Peak, down and up to Richards Knob for even better views (Tapuaenuku as well as the North Island peaks), down up down and finally up to Te Matawai.
Te Matawai Hut has been flossied up, it is rather splendid in cream and red, and has a wood burner. After a leisurely lunch in the sun, four of us headed up the track towards Pukematawai, enjoying good views back towards both huts, and into the Ohau, Otaki and Mangahao watersheds. On the way we met Dorothy and Neil Kane, who were pleased to find they’d (a) have company and (b) have enough people to warrant lighting the fire. The tops were under a bit of cloud, so after an hour three of us returned, leaving Robin to press on. Back at the hut, we gathered firewood, sawed and chopped, ate and drank, played Balderdash and Trivial Pursuits and generally had a very sociable time.
Next morning we left at 8am for the trip out; our party went down Yeates Track and the Ohau River, while Dorothy and Neil went via Waiopehu. It took us 4 hours to reach the river, where we lazed in the sun for a good while near the old South Ohau hut site.
Here, and at other stops, we read extracts written by, and about, Leslie Adkin, an Ohau farmer who explored the northern Tararuas in the 1920s onwards. Adkin made many first crossings and routes, and named peaks after companions who joined him on his expeditions e.g. Lancaster, Thompson, Brockett. He also gave advice about the northern Tararuas to Fred Vossler and other early TTC members. (We have the book about Adkin in the club library). The Ohau had been scoured out a bit since I was last there, and we had great fun scrambling over boulders, and cleaning our boots by crossing the river many times. We made it back to the cars 5 minutes before the Kanes.
Times (with lots of stops):
- Paul Bruce, Robin Chesterfi eld, Catherine Gillum, Dianne Hill (scribe), Peter Tunnicliff, Vicki Wogan (leader)