9 December 2007
Unfinished business: Colin had been into the head of Gorge Creek (it flows from Waitatapia into the Otaki Gorge) but not to its mouth. His route took us nearly to the top of Waitatapia, up from the first grassy saddle on the Waitewaewae track, good going but a boiling morning even at 9 o’clock up through open scrub to the bush. We wanted to catch the spur that led directly to the confluence, but our dead reckoning wasn’t quite right and required some early and fortunately easy lateral adjustment. The spur then proved easy and relatively straightforward to follow, and a drop into Gorge Creek near the end avoided any steepness at the spur’s toe.
Mission accomplished. But it was 1.30 – how to get home? Any climb, either over Waitatapia or Table Top, would make it a long day. So, on the strength of Merv Rodgers' less than three hour "pleasant alternative .... on a warm summer day" (Taraua Fooprints, p122) we started down the Otaki and were immediately confronted by Merv's "single rock scramble" to avoid a long pool (there was plenty more rock to come). Both sides seemed to require a climb into the bush. Merv says TR; we tried TL. Despite animal trails, when we were back in the river we were still almost in sight of Gorge Creek and an hour had passed. Travel speed did gradually improve, but as the Otaki has a strong flow, and is crotch deep – and momentarily waist deep – crossings over very big greasy stones were demanding and slow. Many spots, out of the current, were chest deep, and a late crossing (in parkas, for rain had set in!) had us making a short float down across the current. ‘A simple series of crossings’? I think not.
The route out on to the TR at the end works well. Confronted by an impossible pool, we found a steep but good track on to the terrace above, and out on to grass, and from the far end at the top of the clearing, the track continues to a corner of the zig-zag on the Waitewaewae track above the swingbridge, where it is marked by a white-ringed post (no longer on top of Sawmill Flat as described by Merv). Over four hours in to the bottom of Gorge Creek, and a further four hours – strenuous but good fun – out down the river.
- Party members
- Colin Cook, Neil Challands, John Thomson