Friday 19th – Monday 22nd February 2010
Middle Spur descends southeast from Wright (1196 m.) on the southern Main Range. Its southern extremity plunges into the Waiohine about 1.5 km. above Hector Forks. I have often wondered why such an apparently going-nowhere spur should bear a name, so when Dave expressed a wish to visit the new Aokaporangi Hut, it seemed a good chance to do some on-the-ground sleuthing for pointers as to the possible significance of Middle Spur.
Overnighting at Kime Hut on Friday, we travelled next day in benign, if misty, viewless conditions along the Main Range to lunch at Maungahuka Hut where we spent the next two nights.
Sunday was pretty much cloudless and pretty much windless (in a Tararua sense). We enjoyed a grand trip along the tops and down through the tussock to Aokaporangi Hut, quite flash but sturdy with a magnificent, almost royal loo (at least to look at: approached by a rising curving path, framed by mossy beech, and painted a rich two-tone red and ochre). Along the way Dave and Barry sunned themselves on the top of Wright while I popped down the enigmatic spur (if almost an hour’s absence can be classed as popping) as far as the bush line to see if entry to the bush was barred by a leatherwood zone. It was not - the spur gave pleasant scratch-free travel right down to the beech. (But coming up a few hours later Barry did manage to find a scrap of leatherwood for us to struggle through, perhaps 100 m north of where I had investigated.)
After lunch at the Hut, Dave opted to return along the Main Range while Barry and I dropped south through dense bush down a prominent side spur, crossed Muir Stream and climbed on to Middle Spur, reaching its crest somewhere in the tiny saddle west of bump 668. Then easy travel back up to the Main Range to find Dave indulging in yet more sun on Wright. Apart from good travel both above the bush line and as far down the spur as we had seen, the mystery of why a name remained.
The next day conditions returned to normal - a viewless hike back over the Tararua Peaks and down to Otaki Forks.
Some weeks later, reading A Devious Crossing¹ by S. G. McIntosh the mystery of the name was resolved in the simplest and most obvious way. The explorers had been seeking a spur leading from the Main Range to Hector Forks. Travelling via Shoulder Knob and Kahiwiroa they tried first the spur that today bears Aokaporangi Hut. But from above the bushline they could see it reached the Waiohine well north of the Forks, (an early map had shown it leading to the Forks). So they dropped into Muir Creek, climbed onto Middle Spur (reaching its crest considerably higher than where Barry and I had joined it) and then travelled down the spur to the Waiohine. Not yet at the Forks, they crossed what is today called Maungahuka Stream, ascended the spur containing Concertina Knob, ascertained that it derived from Maungahuka, and continued on…
Some of the names appearing in the account have changed or are no longer used, but two introduced on that trip have persisted: Concertina Knob (actually McIntosh writes of Concertina Ridge: “a trackless ridge abounding in ups and downs like the folds of a concertina ”), and Middle Spur, so called due to its situation between the spur off Aokaporangi and that off Maungahuka².
- Party members
- Barry Durrant, Dave Reynolds, Colin Cook (scribe)