Turere Plunge – Medium,
Wed 17 December
The ‘Checklist for trip Leaders’ states: write an account for the Tramper ‘if the trip was noteworthy enough’. Well it was for me - as it was the first one I have led for the Club. Having led student and research field trips for most of my academic career, on retirement I wanted to keep my head down for a while and had been happy to ‘walk along in a fog’ as some other experienced member did all the planning and leading. So, eventually stepping up to the plate to offer a replacement trip for Paddy, I chose to replicate one of the most satisfying day trips I had been on in the last few years - a trip organized a couple of years ago by John Thomson.
As various Wednesday walkers sent intentions to come, then not to come, the team began to take shape with almost all (to my relief) much more experienced local walkers than me . However, two issues arose – one that had me struggling and the second embarrassed. The first was a phone call from an unknown non-member asking to join the trip. I quizzed the person, asking had they read the trip description (very graphic about steep off-track work) and asked about tramping experience. They hadn’t read trip description and hadn’t tramped for a number of years – but claimed they could manage. I eventually made an uninformed executive decision and said yes! I worried about it all night and then assigned some experienced member to walk with the individual to see whether they were coping – with intention of sending them back with a volunteer if they weren’t up to it. Result - great! - they turned out to be a fit very competent tramper. The second issue occurred at the introductory talk before we left the cars. In the most polite and helpful way one of the experienced walkers asked me if I had next- of-kin (or equivalent) phone numbers for all the participants. Golly! I hadn’t thought of that. We ought to put that in the ‘checklist’.
The walking and route finding went well. This included, one hour on the Orongorongo track to the bridge and toilets, 2 hours off-track up the well-marked Turere ridge to the take off point at 460 masl. From here, for about 40 minutes, we plunged down a well-defined ridge towards Turere Stream. The ridge is mostly at a constant gradient and fairly open until 100m from the stream where there is a very steep drop-off hidden by almost impenetrable kiekie. Previous advice from John Thomson had suggested we should traverse to the left to avoid the difficulties at the end of the ridge – but we must have descended too far, because on the left we were confronted by precipitous landslide scarp. There are few places to get off the ridge without encountering vertical bluffs – but we eventually found a narrow exit to the left of the most prominent rimu above the stream bank (in future it would be worth reconnoitring an easier exit from the ridge). About 150m downstream from where we met the Turere Stream and had lunch, a tributary enters from the true right, and just beyond this a small ledge on the Turere Stream bank offers access to the broad ridge that would take us to McKerrow Track. The climb out , taking about 1.5 hours, covers just under 400m of elevation to the point it intersects the McKerrow track at 610 masl. From here we followed the track down to a point 490 masl where we left the track and followed a broad spur in a southwesterly direction, ending on the valley floor at the confluence of the Catchpool and McKerrow streams. The descent took about 1.5 hours. Once on the valley floor we immediately crossed the Catchpool stream and regained the Orongorongo track for a half hour walk back to the carpark.
The trip took 7.5 hours and was judged marginally on the fit side of medium.
- Party members
- Paul Armstrong, Simon Barnes, Mike Crozier (leader and scribe), Susan Guscott, Carol Kelly, Alan Knowles, Howard Larsen, Jan Nye, Lynne Pomare, Bob Stevens, David Wanty, Rosemary Wilson, Alan Wright