Tapokopoko Stream, part two
18 February 2015
The Tapokopoko Stream has two major branches. Colin Cook led a trip into the north branch exactly a year ago on 19 February (see Tramper, May 2014). Today’s trip was to run the length of the west branch. It began, and we didn’t know till the end of the day quite how grateful we’d be, with a ride in Alan Knowles’s Mitsubishi Delica down the Western Lake Rd right to the mouth of the Mukamuka. From there we walked on to the Mukamukaiti in quickly rising air temperature. First stop, the waterfall, which no one else had seen before. Set in shadow in its black cleft, it is not easy to photograph. Then back a little way to the TL portage. Not a sign of cairn or markers, and the route up in loose shingle and rocks, even though still under trees, has to be taken far more slowly and carefully than when I last used it 25 years ago. Animal trails indicate a much safer sidle back down on the other side to the stream
The map had shown me a spur up to the ridge encircling the head of the Tapokopoko Stream, reached from a side stream running NE from the Mukamukaiti. The side stream was easily recognized, though its forks some 100 metres up could just as easily be missed. The spur between the forks is very steep, and despite the animal trails required some interesting acrobatic scrambling in places. Half way up the cover of youngish kamahi gives way as the slope eases (slightly) to older beech forest. The far side of the ridge we eventually climbed on to is a steep rock and shingle face, still actively slipping, so we had a late lunch with a great view down the Tapokopoko valley and beyond to Mt Matthews while we considered our options.
Not too far down the ridge, I could see a line of old beech trees which dropped some way down a little spur, with a patch of green scrub to one side at the bottom through which a sidle into the head of the Tapokopoko seemed feasible. What we couldn’t see was how thick and tall the mingimingi was under the beech trees, nor how steep and thick the patch of scrub. It was a tussle, but a reasonably safe one and it worked. What would the going be like down the stream? It used to be good. The supply of rock from the face behind us has now emptied and widened the stream bed, so although less attractive it’s great for easy boulder hopping. Down at the main forks however there were a couple of solitary buddleias in full flower, so I fear the end is nigh. Just below the forks, the rocky valley sides close in and there used to be a pool, waist deep unless you risked a length of doubtfully secure wire around one steep and slippery side. No wire now so I packed my shirt away in case I slipped in, only to find the clean dry rock easy to get across. David, not liking the look of it, ventured into the water. It was shin deep! The last half hour was out on the open, baking Mukamuka shingle. The temperature was 28 degrees. My original plan had been to come from the end of the Wainuiomata Rd. Had we done that, we’d have had over two hours of road walk back. That afternoon, Alan, with his 4WD Delica, was a much-blessed man.
- Party members
- Colin Cook, Alan Knowles, Cathy Milne, David Ogilvie and John Thomson (leader and scribe).