Mick/Saddle Creek Ridge Ė Waitewaewae Forks
Anniversary Weekend 2007
The intention of the trip was to traverse the East Waitewaewae River and Oriwa Ridge. We started from Otaki Forks by traversing the long ridge between the Waitatapia stream and the Waitewaewae river from the junction of the Waitatapia and Saddle Creek. It is easy to get onto the end of the ridge where the Waitewaewae track first crosses Saddle Creek. The lower part of the ridge provides reasonable travel with some signs of judicious trimming of the supplejack. As with most of the western range the ridge between 500m and 700m is characterised by a tangle of windfalls from the 1936 storm but at least the supplejack is not too bad. Most of the climb was in summer heat but above 800m we ran into cloud.
When it became obvious that we were not going to be able to reach Waitewaewae forks in time via the long spur which leads directly to the forks we decided to try and find the old track down the spur to the south of Chaney Creek. There are more bumps along the ridge than are shown on the map but we were reasonably confident we were on the right bump for the turn. However a search did not yield any sign of a trail, old blazes, or even a spur. We went on to the next bump which had the remnants of scrub on the summit (we subsequently discovered that this was point 975). Here we found an obvious spur but no signs of any markers. We decided to follow it anyway. Initially the spur is very broad and easy. We began to pick up the occasional axe blaze and it began to swing to the southeast. Perhaps we were on the old Chaney Creek track? It was only when we were at 700m altitude and found ourselves on a face rather than a spur running northeast that we decided that we were not on the spur with the old track. The spur is good going but we found no more axe blazes. Presumably they had dropped down into Chaney Creek to the south of us.
We had no trouble finding a good camp site. It began to rain lightly just before dark and it didnít stop until late in the afternoon next day. By then we had abandoned the idea of the East Waitewaewae and Oriwa ridge and retreated to Waitewaewae Hut. We did first continue up valley to visit Waitewaewae forks where we found the remains of an old punga-log cabin on the true right and a modern campsite on the true left which included picnic table and a large area of clear felled forest!!
For something different we decided to return to Otaki Forks via the point 860 to the east of the track. No sooner had we started the climb and the rain came in again. The climb onto the bump was a lot easier than the descent to the Plateau over the subsidiary bump to the west shown on the map. This spur is narrow, lumpy and has a lot of wind falls.
For reference, a track used to head southeast from Mick to the next bump south of point 975 and down the spur to the south of Chaney Creek to the Waitewaewae valley, coming out directly opposite the big slip marked on the maps. It was reputed to be a quicker route to Waitewaewae Hut than the standard route. The trail, at least in the vicinity of point 975 and the turn, has pretty well disappeared. Point 975 still has a small patch of leatherwood on the summit. The slight saddle south of point 975 is not obvious but the climb onto the bump where the old track turned down the spur can be identified by a fairly recent area of wind throw which you have to climb through.
- Party members
- Susan Guscott, Kate Macpherson, David Castle, Colin Cook, Neil Challands (leader & scribe).