A few diversions on the trail to Mick & Tangata Maunga
9 Jan 2016
Most accounts of the loop from Waitohu quarry behind Otaki up to the ridge with the bump named Mick and the open area with the hydrology station just under Tangata Maunga mention aircraft parts on the way to Mick, and a long day. We managed to add to the 20 kms with some classic (mis)assumptions about what we should expect… Off we strode on a fine morning along first a road, and then overgrown four wheel drive track on the true right of the Waitohu stream. After the stream was crossed the track becomes a trace through high grass, and we were not totally sure where on the map we were when we crossed back. But about an hour from our start we found a track heading just north of east on the true right of a stream, as the track to Mick should, and followed that – until it petered out. So one of us edged across the unreliable-looking slump ahead – did the trail continue on after that? And when it was clear it didn’t, we pushed up through kiekie and supplejack to get to the ridge where we assumed we’d meet the track. Half an hour of bush ballet on a steep slope, and indeed we did. A happy pause for morning tea. Then we followed the track… but after a while we began to doubt it. Why weren’t we clipping through the metres of height as the map showed? We clustered around the map and convinced ourselves that we had come up a spur too soon. So back down, laughing at ourselves - though the leader did this with some rue, thinking of what she should have done earlier - where this track entered the track we had followed along the stream …
Then we fossicked south-east along the stream, following footpads and pink trapping ribbons (no traps), across and up sidestreams, enjoying finding what TTC botanists later identified as a stinkhorn [see picture], and – finally deciding that we should tackle the track-that-could-lead-to- Mick. After lunch in the sun, up we went, and up, and up, and this time believed in the track (more rue on part of leader), even if it was marked only occasionally, with pink markers. (The loop has no DOC markings; the Mick track is marked by a loop of green at the start). It is a good track: nice bush, treefall that needed quite a lot of going around at around 600 metres. No obvious sign of aircraft parts, and we’d already used up any spare time to look for them!
The ridge route is pretty well marked with mainly orange ribbons now, and Mick itself has a faded toy plane, with three ribbons indicating an intersection. We heeded Merv Rodgers’ advice to follow compass bearings carefully coming off Mick so we didn’t find ourselves heading east instead of south-west. We refreshed ourselves at the hydration station and caught some views of the main Tararua Range in what was now hazy weather. Then a clatter down the ribboned route till we got to the overgrown four-wheel drive, and the long wind down back to the start. It’s not a bad track as they go – quite a lot of soft ground, and good trees and views. The final turn down back to the Waitohu – faced with a choice – the track to the left looked more direct, so we took that – and – well, as we stood by a fence above farmland and looked at the quarry in the distance – it wasn’t. The payoff though was a wonderful view of Kapiti sketched in silver and shifting beams of light before we turned back, and made our way down the proper route, glad that we had parked before the quarry gates, which were now closed.
- Party members
- Lois Buckrell, Tricia French, Gerald Leather, Cathy Wylie (leader and scribe)