Oct 7-9 2018
Aiming for McGregor Biv for the night we set off from the Pines at 11am. We crossed to the TR bank of the Waingawa at the pool by the last bit of grass, and climbed up into the bush a few minutes back downstream to avoid a vertical bank. Several minutes uphill and after a bit of casting about we found the lightly marked old route that sidles up the TR bank as far as Fall Stream, passing a stand of enormous matai on the way. It drops to a terrace where there is temporarily a good footpad. After a bit of awkwardness getting across Fall Stream, due to bluffs, we climbed up the open bush spur towards 730 then followed the track to Pinnacle Saddle. This all took nearly 4 hours, so it turned out not to be the shortcut I was anticipating, compared to coming up the Atiwhakatu, though it is a shorter distance.
Up to Baldy, then the cloud lifted as we turned south towards McGregor, revealing beautiful evening sunlight on the ridges dropping into Dorset Creek. Forgoing the sensible-looking poled sidle route around the Broken Axe Pinnacles, we climbed over the top. The first face is the only awkward one. It was almost dark when we reached McGregor Biv.
In the morning we followed McGregor Spur down to the Waiohine-Dorset confluence; a helpful soul has added some permolat markers. After a detour 30 minutes up-river towards Park Forks, which we didn’t quite reach, we returned and headed up Dorset Creek. It is a lovely stream, and not difficult travel, though a couple of narrow points would necessitate an awkward sidle if the stream was up. It took us nearly 3.5 hours to reach the foot of the spur where a lightly marked route ascends NNE to Dorset Hut. There is a cairn and a couple of markers on the Creek bank. 90 minutes later we reached Dorset Hut. It is a great hut in a nice spot that catches the morning sun. An enclosed porch includes a sink with running water. We appreciated the woodburner as the evening cooled.
On our third morning we dropped back down the marked route into Dorset Creek and headed further upstream. We were curious to find where the route up to the prominent spur to “Cairn” - just south of South King – departed from Dorset Creek, but didn’t notice anything until the next significant TL side creek about 300 metres up the valley. There was a large mossy cairn here and, less than a minute up the side creek, tape markers headed uphill on the TL.
However, we were aiming for North King, so instead headed up the spur on the TR of this side-creek. It leads up to the bump between Adkin and North King and was good travel with open bush and even a few tape markers higher up. Very little scrub at bushline. After a rest in the sun we continued up and turned right to soon reach North King. Descending to the flat tussock shoulder on North King Spur, we admired the impressive head basin of South Mitre Stream.
Our next objective was to try and find the old plane crash site just above the bushline a little north of the main spur. We were unsuccessful in this, despite quite a lot of thrashing around in the scrub. Maybe the wreck is now slightly below bushline, or else we just didn’t look well enough.
We then headed down North King Spur, passing the bits of plane wreckage that have been moved to the main spur. GPS helped us stay on the right line down this spur. After a brief stop at Mitre Flats Hut, including chatting to Phil, who was leading a Duke of Ed group and intended looking for the same plane wreckage the next day, we headed out to the Pines.
It had been great to explore another stream in the Tararuas.
- Party members
- Franz Hubmann (scribe), Paul McCredie.