Akatarawa Rambles M/F
Saturday 28 July
Our Saturday offtrack exploration was to climb the familiar spur to Kakanui peak starting from the Akatarawa Rd between the twin bridges just west of Staglands. This was my fourth ascent of the ridge but the first one to be in fine weather. It was a hard frost as we arrived at the start point to find that the old wooden truss bridges had gone and in their place were gleaming concrete ones. More importantly the area had been landscaped beyond all recognition. There was sign that someone had pushed a route through the scrubby regrowth heading up hill so we followed it. It proved to be steep and slippery for the first 40m until we got onto the old trail. The spur is generally open and a very good gradient and the light supplejack lower down is easily avoided. There is one flat area at 500m where it is necessary to bear left. At 600m it is joined by a spur from the northwest which has an old overgrown permolat marked trail on it. At this point we got good views to the west and could see Mt Taranaki standing out proud. Kakanui peak is marked by an iron tube but you need to search to find it.
From Kakanui a short walk NW through kamahi sapplings brought us to the Odlins road. We then had a 2km walk north along the road. Our plan was to descend the narrow necked spur which descends over point 440 on the map. Determining just which bump is which on the Odlins road is tricky and we cheated by using a gps. Climbing onto the bump we wanted involved finding a route through the steep road embankment but a piece of pink ribbon marking the one viable route looked like a good omen. The map indicated a gentle descent for 200m horizontal distance on a westerly bearing before we had to change direction. An intermediate high point after about 100m needs to be ignored. At 700m elevation the bearing needs to change more to the south and we quickly picked up a well defined animal trail. The spur offers delightful travel. It is generally well defined except between 580m and 560m where it is necessary to bear to the right. The long flat stretch through the narrow neck has some nice rimu. Good trail led us all the way to the forks. From there we opted for a short steep climb onto the road near the tight corner where there is ample parking should anyone in the future choose to repeat the trip.
The intention now was to get back to the cars by traversing the ridge above the Akatarawa Road to the west. We had a short road walk to the gully in the big bend on the road. Recent road works provided easy access into the creek bed. A log jam just upstream prompted us to attempt a climb out to the south immediately. The initial climb was steep and greasy in the winter but would be no trouble in the dry of the summer. The climb to point 470 was not difficult. Just to the south of 470 we found a DoC orange triangle on a tree but no other markers in sight. After an awkward scramble trying to avoid supplejack we arrived on some sort of trail which steadily improved as we headed south. While the ridgeline looks fairly direct the trail wanders around and progress was slow despite easy walking
We were on a very good marked trail when we arrived at the last bump just 300m from our destination and 140m above the road bridge at the confluence of Bull stream and the Akatarawa River. Unknown to us the marked trail led us onto a spur which heads southwest towards the Akatarawa River rather than towards the road. Part way down the markers became scarce and then seemed to disappear. After a search we found a marker heading into a gully to the east and toward the road. That was the last marker but we did find a faint trail sidling across the hill side. The trouble was that it kept disappearing under recent windfalls. After a slow scramble we arrived on the spur which we should have been on in the first place. That last 300m took us nearly an hour. Quite why the well marked trail chooses to descend a spur heading away from the road rather than make a direct line to the road is a mystery.
- Party members
- David Castle, Neil Challands (leader and scribe), Ken Fraser, Susan Guscott, Bernard Molloy, Sieny Pollard, Nina Sawicki, Esther Swart