Putaputa Stream Circumnavigation
17 January 2009
Three of us set out from Pakuratahi Forks after leaving a car at Te Marua Lakes. Across the bridge and along the track on the true right of the Hutt River took us to the toe of the ridge leading up to Bump 642. We found a good marked track on this section. From 642 we progressed along the ridge, passing 641 and 638. Navigation is very difficult here due to limited visibility and relatively flat ridge tops. However we managed to identify bumps and saddles marked on the map. Eventually we reached Bump 618, or what we thought was 618.
We had a look for the track which is shown on the map starting just NW of 618, but could not locate it. We felt reasonably confident but not certain we were on 618, so took the plunge down the SW spur. This dropped very steeply into an impressive gorge in the upper reaches of the Putaputa. Climbing out of the gorge on the extremely steep true right was a challenge. A deeply incised tributary gave us a reasonable fix on the map. We set off on a bearing through scrub and bush, rising gently, coming across some old logging roads. Before long there was not much higher ground around and we knew we must be close to Kakariki 575. After crossing a false summit we climbed a slope and there it was! – the pipe at Kakariki summit. On its south side there is a four-wheel drive track – a motorway to us. Our intention was to descend the long thin spur running directly to Kororipo Forks. So we paced out 200 metres along the motorway and turned right into some rough country. Descending we soon came across an old logging road which gave good travel but then petered out as all logging roads eventually do, especially when you need them. Downward progress was slow leaving the logging road, beset with navigation doubts. We came across some kiekie and before long were into solid kiekie. Progress slowed to a barely perceptible crawl and the ground disappeared. In desperation we tried dropping down to the stream to the west, but a bluff covered with kiekie with no solid ground in sight forced a retreat to the ridge top. The problem with this ridge is that the streams are deeply incised on all sides. We tried the other side of the ridge and struggled clear of the kiekie. We dropped down a steep bank and a stream appeared, flowing right to left, which identified it as Kororipo. This stream has a rocky bed and is full of waterfalls. Only 50 metres downstream we came to the forks with a tributary coming in on the true left. Just below the forks we climbed out on the true right and climbed 50 metres to a campsite. A little further up the hillside we joined an old logging road which sidles along the true right of the Hutt River all the way to Te Marua Lakes. The original version of this trip was explored by Gordon McKenzie.