Tauherenikau Valley - Eastern Hutt Valley - Marchant Ridge
March 16, 17, 18 2007
Map S26 Carterton
It had been many years since either of us had started a weekend trip directly from work on a Friday afternoon. Driving to the Kiwi Ranch road end in work clothes and changing directly into tramping attire was a good feeling. Up over the familiar Puffer Saddle and into the valley of the Tauherenikau River, we crossed the new bridge and made very good time along the terrace track on the true left of the river. We crossed to the true right just downstream of the Block XVI track and made our way to the site of the former Allaway-Dixon Hut where we set up the tent. A fire was easily established in the remains of the hut’s fireplace and we cooked and consumed our meal under a star-filled sky.
Saturday morning was more typical Tararua weather – grey and overcast and this progressed through intensifying stages to southwest, gale-driven rain, by early afternoon. The focus of the trip was to explore parts of the upper Eastern Hutt River catchment. We went up the Block XVI track to spot height 953 and then, with compass in hand, we started into the Eastern Hutt catchment via the spur that begins in a direction slightly north of west off point 953. This spur has numerous compass directional changes and so our rate of descent was not fast. Challenges encountered as we descended were a very steep section just below 900 metres, a significant section of tangled windfalls where the spur narrows at about altitude 750 metres and an extremely challenging steep section where all our bush mountaineering skills were brought into use in the final 100 metres to the river bed. Lunch was under pongas at gr020203 in squally rain, with the luxury of a warm primus brew. The weather and our increasingly wet attire meant that our original plans were shelved, so we went upstream to gr022206. We went up the spur on the true left of the Eastern Hutt that starts at that stream confluence and came out on the Marchant Ridge track, about 200 metres north of spot height 1060.
It was then a wet plod south along the Marchant and back down the Block XVI track to the camp site. The small side stream that is the water source for the site was up significantly from its morning flow level and we brewed up brownish water for that welcome cuppa. We rigged up our fly as a veranda out the front of the tent to provide a sheltered cooking area, and we slowly dined the evening away, comfortably dry under the fly and tent. Sunday morning had even heavier rain and we had a look at the Tauherenikau River - it was a turgid brown and flowing bank to bank. We shared concerns about our ability to cross the Marchant Stream in such conditions and quickly decided to have peace of mind, even if it meant a longer exit. So we went up Block XVI again and south along the Marchant Ridge. By the time we reached the Dobson Hut site, all signs of inclement weather had disappeared and we had a pleasant stroll back to the cars at Kiwi Ranch. Party members were
- Party members
- Bill Allcock (scribe) and Dave Reynolds.