Blake Bruce circuit
20 May 2017
A number of years ago I had done a circuit by climbing up to Bruce Hill from the bridge over the Mikimiki stream and then proceeding along the ridge to Te Mara before dropping to the saddle on the track from Kiriwhakapapa to Mikimiki.
This time I wanted to do the circuit to the south, ascending to Blake from the Mikimiki Stream and then along to Bruce before dropping directly down to the Mikimiki tramway track.
Three of us started the trip on a cold May morning, initially walking to the bridge that crosses the west branch of the Mikimiki Stream. Just prior to the bridge we turned left to go up the true right of the stream. Unfortunately the sidle was too steep and we were forced to drop into the stream and wade into it with a number of deep crossings for nearly a kilometre. While this would have been a very pretty stream to visit on a summerís morning, on a cold May morning, water-filled boots at the start of a trip was not the ideal beginning. The narrow valley widened where a tributary came in from the south and we decided to head up a side spur to get us part way to .632.
This we managed well but as we had a late morning tea at 11.15 large snow flakes were falling all around, picturesque but cold. From 632 we turned east, dropping into a saddle before a steep climb up to Blake.
Thus far we had seen no ribbons and the footpad had been occasional. From Blake north there was a good pad with many ribbons but these ceased 400m along and indicated a turn right. This was the top of a long spur which led down to the west branch of the Mikimiki Stream, which we noted as worth exploring another day. Continuing north towards Bruce, we stopped for lunch on a well-defined ridge with a light pad and no ribbons or markers of any type.
We arrived at the spur dropping off Bruce at 2.40 pm, so rather than going up we decided to descend. In stark contrast to the route so far, this had lots of permolat markers and a great footpad. 100 m down there was a rocky outcrop with great views of Mitre and the surrounding peaks with their recent dusting of snow.
The descent was easy until about 400m from the Mikimiki Track. Here we lost the markers and had to scramble around in the supplejack in the fading light before we finally dropped onto the track, literally, at 5.00 pm, returning to the car by 5.30.
- Party members
- Russell Cooke (leader and scribe), Sieny Pollard, Janette Roberts
A note on access to the western Mikimiki
This note was reported in August 2017 Tramper.
The BlakeĖBruce circuit of the western branch of the Mikimiki, which Russell Cooke describes in the July Tramper, makes for a satisfying day. It would be a shame if the icy wading Russell describes at the beginning put others off. Itís not necessary. If you cross the bridge over the western branch at the start (as is mentioned in Tararua Footprints), you can pick up an old logging track which follows the TL as far as a small side creek coming in from the north, where it crosses to the TR and after a flat section where it is not obvious, climbs above the stream till it reaches the point where the main stream heads NW. This is the point where, leaving the stream, you continue west, climbing up on to the spur to reach .632 and Blake. Like Russell, I too a few years back followed the excellent track SSE from Bruce Hill, until it stopped past .535, a bit below the 500m contour, where there was an assortment of coloured markers scattered about but no obvious continuation. My recommendation, for want of anything better, is to drop SE through the supplejack into a small stream which provided surprisingly good going back down to the western branch and the logging track. John Thomson.