Northern Tararuas - Ruamahunga river - Roaring Stag Lodge - Haukura Ridge - Ruapae Stream
Trip to the Northern Tararuas 28-12 to the 30-12-06.
Waiting for a fine spell of weather this summer has thus far proven to be a rather fruitless activity. So it seemed that the best line of action was to pick a time that looked reasonable and a trip which offered options, and go for it.
Putara road end was selected as a suitable starting location and an area which is generally under visited by TTC members. The plan was to go to Cow Creek hut from the road end via the Ruamahunga river. On the second day, do a day trip possibly on the tops, return either by the tops or by the river to Roaring Stag Lodge and then back home on the 31st. Itís good to have plans but itís essential to be flexible so now down to what we actually did.
Driving through the Wairarapa on Thursday morning in fine warm sunny conditions there was some degree of optimism for some reasonable weather. While changing at the Putara road end the rain started. Although light at first, by the time we were heading up the Mangatainoka river valley, it was much heavier and this continued to the ridge line, at 760m, and beyond. The very wet condition of the track indicated some recent heavy rain as did the two small side streams just before the hut which were well above there normal level. The Ruamahunga River was well above normal flow. Over lunch we contemplated our options which were further restricted when it was discovered that the o-ring in the outlet of my usually very reliable primus had given up the ghost and was leaking white spirits. Fortunately Colin had his gas primus but not a large supply of gas as his was a back up. Roaring Stag Lodge does have a good fire and plenty of wood so we decided to base our trip in the Roaring Stag Lodge area and spend the afternoon doing a trip to Cattle Ridge Hut and back. Conditions at Cattle Ridge were windy and not warm and the track is becoming steeper due to the action of water washing more and more of the loose soil and rock from the track. On the way down the three senior members of the party botanised and geologised while Mike made his way down in 18 minutes.
The plan for day two was to go up Haukura Ridge, around the tops to Herepai Hut and return to Roaring Stag Lodge for the night. The toe of Haukara Ridge is accessed from Ruapae Stream and is about 2 kilometres from the hut. After crossing the second major side stream from the hut we crossed a river terrace prior to dropping into Ruapae Stream and in the process found an old foot pad, tree blazes and some markers. There is some confusion about the marking of the second side stream from the hut on Levin map 1:50 000 260-S25 & Pt R25. The map has the crossing some distance from the hut but in reality it is close to the first major stream crossing may be 100 meters apart. The toe of Haukura Ridge is very broad and the old route probably starts from a point just above the Ruamahunga forks S25 Pt, R25 219 516.
We started our climb a little further up stream at about S25 Pt. R25 232 518 and after a climb of about 140 m we found a good foot pad and some old blazes which we followed to the scrub belt at which point the going became progressively more difficult as the foot pad became less obvious. A sidle below the crown of the ridge proved to be the best option until Colin led us into a clear area marking the start of the tussock and scrub. The tussock was generally good travel but the scrub not so but it was becoming smaller and easier to push through. We reached a high point at about or just above 1100 m and lunched in the tussock on the lee side of the spur. From our vantage point we could see that conditions on East Peak were far from inviting and continuing around the tops was not an option. The remaining options were Ruapae Stream and a spur to the North East. Neil Challands had come up the spur some time ago and it looked a better option than the stream. We made our way to the saddle where the wind strength was such that it was necessary to hold vegetation to stay upright. To access the spur a sidle was necessary which for the most part was straight forward except for the bit which was not visible from the start and required aerial walking on leather wood. Travel on the higher part of the spur was good but became more difficult as the scrub got bigger but animal trails helped our progress. As the scrub became larger and much more difficult a good sidle was found through the Horopito off the crown of the spur. Just below 800m a very well formed animal trail provided us with easy travel until a rather steep descent to Ruapae Stream just down stream from the Bottles Track. At this point Mike left us to return to Wellington and we continued down Ruapae Stream which is easy travel but there was enough water in the stream to test Kenís and Colinís boulder hopping ability to maintain dry boots. Heavy over night rain meant that the Ruamahunga River was again running high and the bush very wet and the rain was continuing into the morning but of course it stopped after we made a decision to pack up and return to Wellington. We were able to have lunch in the sun just after crossing the swing bridge over the Mangatainoka River. We need to return to the Northern Tararuas to complete the Haukura Ridge trip to East Peak and around to Herepai Hut in better weather. On the way back to Wellington we ran into the southerly which ended 2006 and ushered in the new year.
- Party members were
- Colin Cook, Ken Fraser, Mike Thompson and Dave Reynolds