Blackwater Stream – Waiopehu
5 February 2014
Blackwater Stream, eh? And a climb up out of the headwaters to the Waiopehu track? Hadn’t done that for 55 years. Time to check it out. Not much (from memory) has changed. The old Ohau Hut with its rats has gone. Back then we took the track for water down to the confluence and started up the Blackwater the easy way; this time we looked for an easy way down from the swing bridge and found a hard one on the TR. Armchair trampers who read their Merv Rodgers will know of an easier way down on the TL.
Blackwater Stream, being without pools, presents no problems, though we did agree we would not like to be in it when it was up because of several narrow passages between high rock walls. Two and a half hours had us just below a large rock in the stream bed, a sort of roche moutonnée that had yet to have its edges ground down by a glacier. We were just below the point where the stream splits into several final tributaries. Time and energy were both running out, so it was up a steep but well vegetated slip face on the TL and into agreeably easy bush. Until we hit the leatherwood band at the top. Years ago, this had been painfully slow going through young and vigorous leatherwood interspersed with tall grass and hidden logs, though we could at least mostly see above it. Now the leatherwood is high and very elderly with a lot of dead branches; at least we could mostly crawl under it. The Waiopehu track, just a few minutes below the new hut, was as welcome as ever. This time, however, neither I nor any one else dropped their pack to run to the top of the mountain. Rather, we doggedly set to, and in three hours were back at the cars. JT
- Party members
- Colin Cook, Tricia French, David Ogilvie (leader), John Thomson (leader and scribe), and Bill Wheeler