Makaroro River - Sparrowhawk Biv Northern Ruahines
5 June 2010
MS 260 U22, Ongaonga
We did this day trip as part of Bob Cyffers’/ Jenny Lewis’s Queen’s Birthday lodge trip to Wakarara Lodge. It is a reminder that interesting medium and fit trips can be done as part of lodge trips.
Saturday dawned a brilliantly fine Hawke’s Bay day with a very heavy frost, an ideal day for tramping. Warwick and I chose the medium-fit trip to the top of the Ruahine Range at Sparrowhawk Biv (1360m). It was new territory for both of us.
We drove down to the Makaroro River ford to find the river running high and swift with runoff from rain earlier in the week. The river was a discoloured yellow-brown. It was almost fifteen metres wide and 70 cm deep, but with an easy flat gravel bed. This had been enough to turn Bob’s party back, and nearly did the same for us. It should be easier than the Hodder River to Mt Tapuae O Uenuku, I thought. But there was more - and faster - water.
Warwick, who loves river crossing and who is very good at it, readily got across, moving down with the current. I found it just too swift in the deepest part. Warwick came back and we linked up, with arms under our packs, and crossed easily. What a difference linking up makes to one’s stability and confidence. Four legs are far better to balance on than two. Now we could get started and enjoy the great day.
Going up the river bed was straightforward. Regular crossings were necessary, as the river zig-zagged across its bed between the sandstone cliffs at the sides it had created. We decided to go up the true right bank to avoid the river, only to find we were marooned above the cliffs, where a fence was suspended in the air over the cliff. We had to struggle through steep bush before being able to descend back to the river. A costly mistake time-wise, but interesting nevertheless.
The sun still shone, and it was warm. It was easy going up to the junction with Gold Creek, where the track down from the logging road comes in. Here we met two fishermen coming down the bank. We started the track up the ridge at 11.30 am. Initially there were lots of branches across the track, blown off in previous gales. The track climbs steeply through bluffs, then undulates at about 900m, through beech forest. It then climbs along a narrow ridge, sometimes above steep scree, but with good views across the Makaroro valley to Sparrowhawk Biv. We got there by 2.40 pm, somewhat later than we had hoped. There was only time for scenic photos before we were on our way down. We arrived back at the Gold Creek junction at 5.10pm, just as it was getting dark.
Surprisingly the river had risen appreciably during the day. It appeared to have double the water in it, probably due to water draining down after the frost thawed. It was getting dark as we set off, but we found that linking up for the six river crossings worked well, in spite of the increased flow. This was thanks to the relatively flat gravel bed. It was cool and we were pleased to be back at the car by 6.15pm, and back at Wakarara Lodge in time for the hot dinner. An interesting and engrossing river and bush tramp.
- Party members
- Warwick Hill, Hugh Barr (leader and scribe)