Easter in the Tarauras
April 14 – 17, 2006 Map S26 Carterton
Day 1 – up and down; Day 2 – up, along and down; Day 3 – up and almost down; Day 4 – finally down, along, up and down.
It is not often these days that a four day pack is carried over Mt Holdsworth, but that’s what started our trip on a windless Good Friday under a brilliant blue dome. Lunch was enjoyed on Mt Holdsworth, and the weather was so tantalising that a protracted afternoon laze was taken on Isabelle. Then it was a knee-jarring descent to Mid-Waiohine Hut and an easily-established warming fire.
The early morning of day two, in the valley, was early-autumnal damp and chilly, but that feeling was soon gone as we made our way up to Aokaparangi in continuing glorious weather, with just a hint of high cirrus above. Our tramp south along the tops over Wright and Simpson and hence to Maungahuka was one of those special Tararua-tops days, with unimpeded views north to Bannister and south to Alpha; and further south to Mt Matthews.
When we reached Maungahuka Hut mid-afternoon, there was a tops breeze but the panorama was still with us, despite afternoon cloud build-up over the western range. The new hut was all but complete and the resident DoC workers were hoping to be finished within a week – weather permitting. The new hut is impressive in its design and positioning; a credit to DoC planning (very similar to the new Roaring Stag Hut – minus the fire place).
We completed our day by descending to Neill Forks Hut; the last three-quarters of an hour with the assistance of our torches.
Day three we went off-track. We left Neill Forks Hut, followed the marked track a short way up Neill Creek; crossed a side-creek on the south side of the track and then went up a spur that rises to Cone Ridge on a bearing just east of south. On the broad top of the spur we skirted north a short distance to avoid a section of serious leatherwood and then walked a few hundred metres south along the Cone Ridge track to the top of the Makaka Creek spur.
As we descended this spur we encountered occasional pink nylon ties and recently established small cairns that confirmed our navigation. At about the 700 metre level the spur divides and the recognised route down the spur bears south. As none of us had been down the northern arm, away we went adventurously (being cognizant of the fact that descending a spur is always more challenging than ascending). Between 500 metres and 400 metres the northern arm of the spur loses its definition; and it was about here that we lost our concentration!
Short version... it was after four o’clock; under a grey sky; with diminishing light in the bush; acknowledging that we had navigationally embarrassed ourselves; the decision was made to camp – on a delightful promontory somewhere on the north arm of the spur; a watercourse was not far below; we had a very comfortable night under a fl y and a tent – despite the occasional wind-blown showers.
Day four started with an ascent of about 100 metres, to where we recognised where we had erred the previous day. It was then a cautious but straightforward descent down the lower section of our chosen spur by three chastened trampers to the river flats and on to Totara Flats Hut for a cuppa; hence an exit to the Holdsworth road-end via the Totara Creek track. It was a rewarding four day trip.
- Party members were
- Dave Reynolds, Marg Conal and Bill Allcock.