Pigeon Bush and Nicholl
Wednesday 25 May
Pigeon Bush is the name that has been given to a NZ Native Forests Restoration Trust reserve which straddles the hilly country between the Wairarapa side of the Rimutaka Hill road on one side and the railway line above Lake Wairarapa on the other, with its western boundary defined by the Rimutaka Forest Park. Long ago it was all cleared for farming, leaving very few trees of any size, and the remains of fencing still survive, but it is now mostly covered in thick regenerating scrubby bush which has almost supplanted the gorse. A culler has been employed in recent years to keep animal numbers down, especially goats, and the Animal Health Board extends its possum control activities from the Tararuas. Despite continuing signs of animals, pig rootings for example, fresh foliage is abundant.
From ‘Big Bend’, the hairpin bend near the bottom of the Hill road, a track, probably established some years ago by hunters, takes you to a saddle from which a tributary of Prince Stream flows down to the Lake. Unfortunately, there is no legal access across private farmland from the Western Lake Road (except for Trustees and staff). A recently completed track goes from that saddle up to the top of Nicholl* (437m).
Twenty-four of us made the most of the late autumn warmth to visit the Reserve, with some anxiety leaving six cars parked at the bend of the road. The short stiff climb to the saddle has been made easier by steps installed by David Burson (current Ranger) and TTC friends. To escape the wind and find enough sitting space for an early lunch, we went down Prince Stream to the first clump of open beech trees. Then back to take the track which, with the help of a number of people, I had cut to Nicholl – possibly the first TTC visit! The scrub, not much more than knee high on the most exposed corners, is rapidly turning into small trees on the longer more sheltered stretches, though as you can imagine, so close to the notorious Rimutaka Road, nowhere is really safe from the wind. At least, in the meantime, this allows for plenty of commanding views of the southern Wairarapa and the south-eastern Tararuas. After taking turns to stand at the top, we made a leisurely and early return to the cars (all safe).
- Editorial note: In the NZMS 260 map series the name Nicholl appeared at the location of spot height 437. According to Linz this was the name of the Trig at this location, not the official name of a topographic feature. The new Topo50 map series show only beacon trigs; Nicholl is not such a trig so is not shown on the map. A complete list of trig names is found at http://www.linz.govt.nz/geodetic/geodetic-database.
In another twist to the matter, the current owners of the land, NZNFRT call Bump 437 Nicholl. Perhaps one day the Geographic Board will too! Finally, does anyone know who Nicholl was?
- Jeremy Foster (not a TTC member) offers the following theory:
"I have managed to find the origin of the place name Nicholl located in the Remutaka area. It is an alternative spelling of Nicols.
William Nicols and family farmed at a place they called Gum Grove which is just south of Featherston in the late 19th century. It is located approx. where Mt Nicholl is.
There is a family of Nicholls in the Wairarapa in the same time period but they farmed in the Tinui area which is located between Masterton and Castlepoint."
- Party members
- Joan & Reid Basher, Debbie Byers, David Castle, Robin Chesterfield, Richard Clarke, Colin Cook, Mike Crozier, Patricia French, Jim Gibbons, Paddy Gresham, Susan Guscott, Justin Kerr, Lois Kluger, John Larkindale, John Nees, Gavin Mikell, Lynne Pomare, Kerry Popplewell, Peter Reimann, Bob Stephens, John Thomson (leader and scribe)) and Lynne White.