Bucks Rd-Tauherenikau Gorge Track-.472-Frith-.513-.505 redux MF
3 December 2014
This trip was previously reported in just one word: Don't. (Tramper, December 2014) Here an elaboration of that somewhat dire message is offered.
Our intention that sunny windy morning had been to ascend Tauherenikau 889 from the east, a not infrequent Fixture Card entry. However at Bucks Road end we met some campers who reported heavy rain during the night, and from the car park terrace the Tauherenikau River did look to be in flood. Closer inspection found it discoloured, noisy, swift and certainly not safe to cross. Since the crossing at the western end of the DoC gorge track (part of our intended loop) would be even more dangerous we were stuck on the TR side of the river looking for a day's worth of tramping. A loop taking in the known Kaumatua Track up the gorge, ascent to Frith and return along the known ridge track was soon agreed and we set off along the Tauherenikau Gorge Track, continuing to its termination beside the river.
There was indeed no hope of crossing so we backtracked to the terrace and continued along the Kaumatua Track. Not always a distinct pad, we muddled our way for almost a kilometre before finally completely losing it and crossing a vast swampy area to arrive at the large side stream draining the north eastern flanks of Frith. This stream enters the Tauherenikau via a waterfall and chasm which are easily skirted. Two old camp sites seen on earlier trips were still in evidence, the one on the stream TL furnished with Hurricane lamp and other fittings
Our real difficulties began after leaving these camp sites. The idea was to travel over Bump 472 to Frith. A Peter Jagger map (which we did not have with us) shows the Kaumatua Track climbs to about the 300 m contour, sidles for perhaps 700 m then drops before rising again on a rib of the spur over Bump 450. And it is on this spur that a pad (previously travelled by at least four members of the party) rises to Frith. Forgetful of this we headed straight for 472 and soon commenced a long struggle through dense scrub with only the occasional patch of forest. It wasn't until we neared the 600 m contour that we were able to sidle freely though continuous forest to reach the top of Frith (which even on this windy, now cloudy day offered grand views to the west and north).
Don't attempt the spur over 472 to Frith. We may have had easier going lower down had we been slightly further west but from 472 almost to Frith the spur crest and surrounds are definitely unpleasant travel.
At Frith we joined the ridge track leading east and then north-east back to Bucks Road end. Although not sanctioned by DoC it does bear the familiar orange triangles. Not far beyond the Finis turn-off we found the route to be overgrown with vigorous young gorse and much larger gorse to either side of the track. This condition persisted until we dropped though the 400 m contour on our descent to Bucks Road - a gorse wade of perhaps two kilometres! That day too along this stretch we were exposed to a strong blustery unpleasant westerly wind.
Don't attempt to travel north east past the Finis turn-off on this track. It may be that determined trampers with appropriate protection could today still make it but another growth season must surely close the route off.
So we ended our makeshift day (over eight and one half hours), scratched, bloody kneed, subdued perhaps but not exactly daunted.
Thanks to Robin for supplying the gpx file of our route.
- Party members
- Helen Beaglehole, Robin Chesterfield, Colin Cook (leader and scribe), Tricia French, Susan Guscott, David Ogilvie, Anne Opie, Marg Pearce, John Thomson and Bill Wheeler.