The Burn Hut Circuit
Saturday 5 May, 2012
Burn Hut is the northern-most DoC hut in Tararua Forest Park and is maintained in a partnership with the Horowhenua Hunting Club of Levin. From Wellington access is via Shannon and the gravel road into the Mangahao River catchment and Todd Energy hydro facilities.
When we arrived at the #2 reservoir to park the car, we had one of those fortuitous meetings that often result in increased awareness of an area. An engineer was overseeing the flushing of #1 and #2 reservoirs, to ‘de-silt’ the reservoirs. Apparently it occurs every two to three years. After an informative chat about the ‘de-silting’ and basic dam operation, we headed along the track downstream of #2 reservoir, constantly aware of the turgid brown water surging through the water course.
One of the attractions of the Burn Hut circuit is the variety of tramping environs. The tramper experiences a steep-sided river sidle, steepish ascent and descent, open tussock tops, mature forest, scrubby sub-alpine vegetation, water course travel and road plod. When we came out of the forest into the open tussock tops, we stopped for a nibble and drink. One of the unique features of the tussock tops on the northern section of the B.H. circuit is that they are below 800 metres – similar vegetation is experienced in the southern Tararuas above 1100 metres. From this open section of the track, Burn Hut is visible due south across the basin. The track to the hut in this section traverses gentle terrain and it is like walking through a corridor walled with mature leatherwood.
We had lunch in the sun outside the hut. [See Burn Hut via Google Earth at 40o13’13”S; 175o31’42”E] The log book went back four years – so obviously the hut does not get serious use. There were isolated entries by TTC members. We continued our clock-wise circumnavigation of Peak [890m] along scrub-covered tops and through mature forest down Mack’s Track to College Creek. From the bottom of Mack’s Track to Baber Forks, travel is via the water course. About 200 metres upstream of Baber Forks, the streambed compresses to semi-gorge narrowness. This section would present travel challenges in time of significant rainfall. From Baber Forks we followed the track to the head of one branch of #1 reservoir. We now were able to walk through the reservoir’s basin, as the braided inflow from the Mangahao River was just up to boot tops. We were able to get a unique perspective of the dam from this ramble.
From the #1 dam we had an hour’s road-plod back to the car (and a completely empty reservoir #2), to complete an enjoyable seven hour outing.
- Party members
- Bill Allcock (scribe) & Brian Ireland.