Old Schormann Track
29 November - 1 December
The piece of the track covered in these recounts runs from 700m east of pt. 820 to join the Herepai-Dundas route at Ruapae Peak.
I have been on a few excursions along this route. The first, in early 2012, led by Neil Challands, started at the bridge across the North Mangatainoka, travelling along the river to the low saddle below pt. 655 where we left the river and climbed to the Schormann track, which is still deeply incised. We turned west and made good progress to pt. 820, where we encountered serious leatherwood. Realising that it would probably take us until after dark to get through the leatherwood, we retreated back to the low saddle and the river. Neil thought we could scramble up at the stream about 500m downriver to reach the Herepai track. We were delighted to find a benched track from this stream junction which led straight up to the tin-bottles sign nailed on a tree on the marked track. We decided this must have been the old way to get stock up and over the ridge and down to the Ruamahanga.
Our second foray on this route took us over pt. 655 and straight down to the low saddle, then it was a repeat of our route up to pt. 820, this time with much more time in hand. The section through the leatherwood to Kareti took well over two hours, mostly spent on our knees crawling and pushing under the scrub with overnight packs on. As we reached Kareti for afternoon tea Neil said, “Take a good look because you will probably never come back here again.” We made Herepai Hut about 6 p.m. When I heard some club members had cut a route through the leatherwood, I devised what I thought was the best route. Four of us tramped to Herepai Hut on Friday night.
On a nice clear Saturday we were off at 8 a.m. with day packs, down the pack track to the North Mangatainoka by 9 a.m. then upstream to the saddle where we easily followed the ridge up to meet the Schormann track proper, at 700m east of pt. 820. We were there at 10 a.m. and had morning tea in a sunny spot shortly after.
Sieny and I led up the track and could not repress the exclamations of relief at how easy the route was to traverse compared with our 2012 tramp. We trimmed any encroaching foliage and reached Kareti at 12 p.m. for lunch in still, hot conditions and great views.
I had little memory of the route on to Ruapae, except that it was much easier than what we had traversed. This time it was scrubby with lots of steep rocky outcrops to go up and down, much harder than the ground we had covered in the morning. We reached Ruapae for afternoon tea at 2 p.m. and ambled back to sit in the sun at Herepai Hut, en route admiring great views out to Cattle Ridge, Bannister et al, and discussing the exact location and extent of Haukura Ridge.
A pleasant night in the hut and relaxed return to Wellington completed the trip on Sunday. Many thanks to the track clearers for opening up this bit of country again. JR
- Party members
- Lois Buckrell, Russell Cooke (leader), Sieny Pollard, Janette Roberts (Scribe)