Revisiting some special areas of the Tararuas
Dec. 17 to 19 2011
Deciding on a suitable three day pre-christmas circuit in the Tararuas proved a bit of a challenge given the fickle weather both forecast and actual. Our three day window did not appear to be blessed with much fine weather so we settled on the relative shelter of a Holdsworth, Cone Hut, Cone Ridge, Holdsworth circuit. This circuit had not figured recently on our list of trips. We were prepared to get wet and the weather did not disappoint as we had varying quantities of light rain each day. As we left the Holdsworth car park we noted that the tops were clear. That soon changed. The rooty, muddy water course-come-track to Totara creek improves little with age. Totara Creek was up a bit as were most of the other streams and the slightly discoloured Waiohine River. The track down Totara Creek and that down the Waiohine River as far as Makaka Creek showed the muddy effects of a wet winter. Once over Makaka Creek and on the Cone Saddle track underfoot conditions improved. The track over Clem Creek and on to Cone Saddle is an old track but in very good condition and shows little of the effects of the heavy win ter snow falls. Cone Hut was unoccupied and there was no shortage of firewood in its immediate vicinity. After a meal cooked on the open fire we decided on an early night, since, in the event of an evacuation, our assembly point was listed as Mid King biv! Sunday morning brought more grey skies and light rain. We left plenty of firewood at the hut and headed for the Cone tops. On the way we found a VHF radio on the side of the track; we picked it up and returned it to DoC Masterton before our return to Wellington. Conditions on the tops were cool and misty but we found time to admire the rich flora around the tarns and to photograph flowering leatherwood. Since our last visit, the Southern end of Cone Ridge track has been cut, making the sidle through the saddle straight forward. Just past the turn off to Neil Forks Hut we experienced our first sun of the trip, a good excuse for a lunch stop. Cone Ridge is delightful travel, not very muddy since it is not visited that frequently and seldom by large groups. Downhill travel is always a bonus but the final descent to the Waiohine River is steep, with some slippery sections, and has lush spring growth making for slow and careful travel. Totara Flats Hut had a serious rubbish issue and needs some basic maintenance as a result of the heavy winter snow falls. Firewood was not that easy to find but we had been left a good supply by the previous occupants. For our final day, light rain cleared to a mostly fine day. We opted for the Totara Forks Stream spur which intersects the Powell Hut track above the mountain House Shelter, and offers far superior travel to the commonly used track and an opportunity to use off track navigation skills.
When we returned the radio to DoC we reported the hut damage and rubbish issue, DoC were aware of the damage and have repairs in hand.
- Party members
- Bill Allcock, Dave Reynolds (scribe).