Tauherenikau 889 from the valley
OTE 3 June 2006
The new Tauherenikau bridge, a short distance above the Marchant Stream, has opened up some new country for day trips. (The Tauherenikau is often fordable, but, especially in winter, there is an aversion to water-logged socks.)
We crossed the bridge, ascended the terrace, skipped through the obligatory
quantum of kiekie and, heading more or less southeast, gained the main ridge
at about 650 m. Here we noticed an orange DoC triangle (now bearing a small
notch) placed to deter south-bound trampers from turning riverwards too soon.
Travel along the main ridge was neither difficult nor fast – the going tended to
be scrubby and uneven especially on the ridge top. At points where there are
major direction changes we often noticed blue paint spots and arrows, again
generally placed for south-bound travellers, but in clear windless conditions
navigation was not difficult. At Bump 883 Neil noticed a headlight housing
and recalled a helicopter brushed the ridge top in this vicinity some years ago
– however the skid apparently also shed was not sighted.1
Travelling toward Reeves, Tauherenikau 889 is signalled by a short steep climb; the ridge then veers left (north?) for 50 - 100 m to where an old totara batten with the carved inscription bLK XIV S(?)S marks the head of the spur dividing Fan Stream and Rodgers Stream. We lunched there. It remained clear calm and cool.
Our intention now was to descend the spur to about 560 m and turn west to regain the valley floor near Fan Stream. The upper reaches of the spur are adorned with small superfluous bumps. Arriving at about 760 m a small northward section morphed into northeast and some cross-country travel southwest was required to regain the main spur. The slight bump shown on the map at about 700 m was quite evident from the ground and shortly after, as the descent veered northwest, we began to notice orange ties. The forest was open, travel easy. Lower down we turned west, moving quickly down a broad spur lacking undergrowth. The profi le of the spur on the south side of Fan Stream loomed ahead and it became clear that we had turned west too soon. More cross-country travel, north. Finally the light tones of Fan Stream gave way to the throatier noise of the Tauherenikau and we dropped into an appalling mess of kiekie and supplejack on a high terrace opposite and a little below Blue Slip. Extricate, slither down a slip and we were on the manuka flats just above Fan Stream.
Return to the bridge was along the beribboned route presumably marked by DoC for the true-left track to Tutuwai. (Shortly before the bridge the ribbons turn uphill to get around a high steep bank. The river when low offers a viable alternative.)
Torches were carried, but with an obstinacy not uncommon in such circumstances were not used, so the final 15 minutes down the Puffer was pretty much by memory. GOTOWO about ten hours.
- Party members were
- Neil Challands, Colin Cook (leader/scribe), and Sieny Pollard.
1 Neil later provided the following excerpt from the accident investigation report http://www.taic.org.nz/aviation/03-001.pdf of the Life Flight helicopter collision with trees near Tauherenikau
The floodlight housing is still there.