Pakuratahi Waiorongomai Western Watershed Ridge - Off track exploration
29 September 2007
Map: Wellington 260 series
When visible (a rare event according to some skeptics) the ridge south from Climie No. 2 displays curves and bumps seductive enough to tempt any warm-blooded tramper. Access from Whitemans Valley avoids the 700m climb and five kilometre trek from the Plateau top car park but (aside from WRC land west of Colletts Stream) requires permission to cross private land. This having been granted, we took a farm road to about 580m on Cooley Stream’s west ridge and, still on private land, went south to reach the main ridge about four kilometres south of Climie No. 2. Some 400m further south lies Bump 809, a rounded rocky knob sticking bluntly up above the astelia and lying slightly east of the divide - sufficiently odd to warrant a visit.
From the knob regaining the ridge south-west requires heading west then south through about 100 m of scrubby forest. Soon done, and picking up a fine trail, the leader surged on, only to be brought to a halt by Barry’s observation that we were travelling .. north!! Compasses agreed with Barry; we were actually retracing our steps! The leader retired to the back of the party completely at a loss to understand how he had been turned through 180 degrees. (Not the first time, and always the same total incomprehension - something to do with the fact that although your nose is always in front, it’s not always pointing in the right direction.)
The ridge top above Huia Stream abounds in lawyer, scrub and hidden logs. We found easier travel on the eastern side and slowly ascended the broad face of an un-metred bump. From its top we travelled southwest along animal trails and stumbled on our first marker, a rough daub of red paint on a scrawny tree trunk at the top of the spur dividing Huia and Narrow Neck streams. Here the map suggests a leftward veer. We began this but the ground started to fall away steeply; we had lost the ridge and appeared to be looking into Narrow Neck Stream headwaters. Traversing left we regained a ridge, pointed ourselves in what felt like the right direction and checked our compasses which indicated…north! Once more we had to turn through 180 degrees and retrace our steps. Back at the paint-daubed tree there was a post
peeped into the headwaters of a Pakuratahi side stream. Clearly compasses can never be too frequently consulted.
It was starting to feel like a long day so, dropping into a somewhat sheltered saddle, we quickly lunched and were on our way again in about fifteen minutes. An hour’s travel got us over Bump 791 and along the ridge to the point where it swings west and starts to descend about 100 m. Good visibility, no navigational problems. Zig-zagging north-west/south-west the descent extends perhaps further than the map indicates before commencing the climb to Bump 730.
About two hours out from lunch we reached the Orongorongo-Narrow Neck saddle turn-off marked by a pink tie and a WRC notice, now fallen to the ground, warning against entering the Orongorongo catchment. Proceeding initially in a more northerly direction than the map suggests, we crossed over the saddle, passing several more fallen WRC signs, and climbed to the deer fence south of High Misty. Then a long walk on a good four-wheel-drive track over High Misty and down farmland to 615 Whitemans Valley Road. Nine hours gotowo and eighteen kilometres - but just six kilometres shuttle back to our start point, 195A Whitemans Valley Road.
- Party members
- Neil Challands, Colin Cook (leader/scribe), Ken Fraser, Barry Durrant.