Peak District Rambles
28 May 2006
Map Reference R27
Our aim was to see if the March 2005 cloudburst in the Orongorongos had affected the eastern route to the large, more or less hanging valley southwest of The Peak and last used by us in August 2002. We tramped on Sunday, pleased to have missed the heavy rain of the previous day. The route starts from the coast, up the true left of the first stream past (north of) Kotumu Stream. The latter has an enormous shingle fan that was certainly at least as chaotic as when we last crossed it. Our stream, although draining a larger area, maintains a relatively small fan; its upper valley is quite extensive with a true floor starting at about 460 m altitude, and separated from its lower reaches by two big waterfalls. These two factors may be the reason for much less erosion and gravel transport than in Kotumu Stream. The first waterfall begins at about 250 m. The country on the true right is no-go; that on the true left had certainly sustained significant erosion since our last visit. A dicey permolatted route through spindly scrub on the spur had been largely eaten away by erosion from heights to the northeast. We explored out in this direction but saw nothing reassuring so returned to the base of the waterfall. The first section is more of a ramp and can be ascended (drily!); the real waterfall perhaps 10-15 m high then appears ahead. However we found it possible to scramble into the scrub on the true left and fight our way up to the rocky rib-top well above the stream and past the waterfall. From here the route was much as before – maintaining height gets you pretty well to the bottom of the second big waterfall which is finessed by scaling grassy scrubby slippery slopes on the true left, and then following the rib back down to the river. We were into the hanging valley!
The first item of interest is an enormous reddish rock straddling the stream; we walked underneath it, a distance of perhaps four or five metres. Then follows an attractive riverside campsite (attractive in summer that is) where we took lunch. In 2002 we had lunched on top of The Peak. The difference perhaps due to time lost searching for a way around the first fall. We decided to bypass The Peak and head for the main ridge northeast of Kotumu. The map contours show a valley forming there and running southeastish. The stream in that side valley, not shown on the map, joins the main stream at a significant forks. Noteworthy of the main stream in this area, and also its two branches beyond the forks that is mapped, is the deep incision, three to four metre vertical sides; you have to hunt for points of entry and exit. We proceeded more or less up the spur forming the true left of the unmapped stream; bush provided better going than open country. Arriving near the top we found ourselves on a sharp steep-sided spur heading northeastish; only a hint of this on the map and a good illustration of the limitations of 20 m vertical contours. Continuing northeast, the gully on our left rapidly broadened and rose up to meet us; we went west across it and floundered around on the main ridge, finally striking southwards to reach Kotumu. Then twenty minutes to the bush edge followed by the long trudge back along the four-wheel-drive track to our car parked at the homestead.
- Party members
- Dave Castle, Neil Challands, Colin Cook (scribe), Warwick Hill (leader in absentia).