30 March 2019
When I led this tramp as a medium Wednesday trip in January this year, after crossing the Makakahi River we discovered that the pines had been cleared and all the existing tracks obliterated. My intention had been to follow the track up the spur to the north past Point 656m then westwards to Kaiparoro, the route I had always followed with other groups. However knowing that this is not the ‘official’ DoC track and that it was probably private land, I decided it would be better to follow the spur which heads northwest more directly to the trig, which is the one marked on the map as “Kaiparoro Track”. This route took us more directly across the private land to the original DoC track. After this trip I contacted DoC Wairarapa who confirmed that we had done the right thing, and that the land crossed by both the ‘official’ track, and the one past Point 656m, belongs to the Tararua District Council.
So for my March 30 Saturday trip I was able to get permission from the TDC to cross their land and ascend via Point 656m, which we did. The Makakahi River was low so we got across with dry feet. The 4WD track up to Point 656m is generally quite usable, although there are a number of pines lying across it near the top which TDC had warned me about and which we were able to push our way through or around. After morning tea in the sun we continued onto DoC land along an undulating ridgetop track (an old road) through regenerating native bush to the main Kaiparoro Track and on to the summit (808m). Kaiparoro is unusual in that it is covered in red tussock and turpentine bush. By standing on the trig there are good views of the main Tararua range, although on this occasion the tops were obscured by cloud.
After a break here we returned to the bush edge from where we followed a marked routed down the spur to the south to the site of the RNZAF Airspeed Oxford which crashed here in 1952 (located slightly west of the spur at about 615m asl). After a brief stop here we returned to the spur for lunch. From this point I had intended to follow the spur back up to the main track at the bush edge, and follow that back to the road end. However another party member suggested continuing down the spur to the Makakahi River and following that back. This is something I had been wanting to do for a while, and I had even checked out the river from the road end as far as the first side stream on the true left and found it to be reasonably easy going, with an old road along the true left for part of the route. So, with the agreement of the whole party, this is what we did. The spur is reasonably open and there is a foot pad for much of the way down with a few pink ribbons to mark the way. It should be noted that the printed version of the NZTopo50 map (edition 1 2009) shows this spur incorrectly as ending at the confluence of two side streams. This is not correct – the spur continues all the way to the Makakahi River. The current on-line version of the map has been corrected.
We then followed the Makakahi River downstream, with a mixture of river walking and sidling, to the cars. Total time taken was about 5¼ hours and we were out sufficiently early to enjoy refreshments at Pukaha Mount Bruce on the way home. And the weather was good – dry and mild with little wind.
- Party members
- Russell Cooke, Gerald Leather, David McNabb (leader and scribe), Bernard Molloy, Sieny Pollard, Janette Roberts