Neill Forks medium trip
24th-25th November 2007
Our destination for this trip was Neill Forks Hut, but earlier I had considered changing the destination to Dorset Ridge Hut, which up until the last minute was to be our trip until a forecast of strong winds for the tops meant that Neill Forks was the preferred option. A weekend trip to Neill Forks is possible from Holdsworth or Walls Whare. The latter was the chosen option so we could enjoy some good off track travel up Makaka Creek spur. This spur is accessed by crossing the large new suspension bridge and following the Totara Creek track for about a hour and a half up the Waiohine River Valley.
Water levels were very low, and crossing Clem and Makaka creeks with dry feet posed few problems. After a bite to eat and filling our water bottles at Makaka Creek, we picked our way through the kie-kie, supplejack and little boggy area which is found at the toe of the spur, but we were soon in more open bush and making steady progress to bump 386m. Bump 386 is located on a flattish area and has a very handsome stand of Rimu and a wonderful camp site, as long as you don’t mind carrying water. It is straightforward to follow the flat section of spur which gradually narrows until a rather steep face is reached. The face is often rather wet and a bit of a scramble, but being dry it proved very easy. At about 500m another spur comes in from the right and the spur is clearly defined, and good travel, but becomes steeper just below 700m where another spur comes in also from the right; this junction is marked with a few bits of tape. The spur is good travel in open bush and after a few small steeper sections flattens out just prior to joining the Cone Ridge track. The track junction was marked with an old mossy cairn which some inconsiderate soul has sought to remove after many years of faithful service. Neill Forks Hut is reached by following the DOC marked route.
Neill Forks Hut has had a most impressive upgrade, which includes a covered porch with seating and coat hooks, a wood burner replacing the often smoky and water-trickling open fire, a new roof and the clearing some of the trees in the immediate vicinity of the hut. The result is most impressive and we were able to enjoy the surroundings over a hot drink and pre-dinner nibbles. The wood burner not only looks good but is very efficient at warming the hut. Our return route was by the Neill spur to Neill and Neill saddle to Cone and via the DOC marked route to Walls Whare. After crossing Neill Creek - again with dry feet for most of the party - the old route climbs steeply for about 60-70m before a more gentle gradient is reached at about 460m. The spur follows an old ground trail on a well defined spur until between 800 and 900m where the ground trail is less obvious, often masked by Horopito. Above 900 m the ridge line is not the best line of travel and a sidle in the bush gives the line of least resistance until the Neill Winchcombe Track is reached. It is a short 10-15 minute return trip to the summit of Neill. From this point to the road end, a DOC marked track was followed. Cone’s sunny open top provided some great photo opportunities of the Main Range and the Tararua Peaks and a good spot for lunch.
An enjoyable trip with good company.
- Party members
- Russell Cooke, Chris Everett, Janette Roberts, Cathy Wylie and Dave Reynolds