Beehive Creek

Sat 31 Dec 2016 

Scribe: Sandra Rogers

Last tramp for the year. Beautiful sunny weather saw 12 head off for Beehive Creek. I checked the DOC site prior to going and they said the track would be cleaned up before summer. Remember the Tui Advert? Yeah Right! Well, Yeah Right it was. The track hadn’t been touched for a long time. 

However, it was still a very pleasant tramp following the stream along in the Pohangina Valley. The windfalls weren’t hard to negotiate, but I feel the blackberry will make the tramp difficult in a year’s time if it isn’t dealt with. This is a lovely tramp in hot weather as you are in ankle deep water quite a lot and good shade. 

Thank you to all for your company and to Ross McBeth for his good driving.

Opunake Walkway

Wed 28 Dec 2016 

Scribe and Leader: Dorothy Symes

This walkway is the longest in South Taranaki and was chosen as an ideal outing for this time of the year, with 22 taking advantage of what promised to be a lovely fine day. We set out at 8am and travelled via Hawera and along the Surf Highway to Opunake. There we turned left down Layard Street to walk around the lake. We set a pace that allowed the group to take advantage of the historical interpretation boards explaining the hydroelectricity once sourced there, along with a vegetable garden which supplied the Armed Constabulary and early settlers. Also of interest was the (now) home for the elderly, the birth place of Peter Snell and Jim Bolger. Eventually we reached the coast and continued along the cliff tops and on to the Waiaua River Mouth, before turning inland over paddocks that were once the Opunake domain. All was well marked and easy to follow. 

Now back to the lake we descended to Opunake Beach. We carried on for the length of the beach which is a well-manicured, popular holiday park and playground, finally going up onto the clifftops again and walking past Opunake Cemetery towards the Te Namu Pa. This is the site of a famous battle where 800 Waikato Maori were repelled in a month-long siege against a single rifle. Before crossing the Otahi Stream we dropped down to a very rugged and picturesque coast (not suitable for swimming), offering a boulder-hopping challenge. Finally, on to smooth beach into Middleton Bay and past the fishing buildings. Then up to the cliff tops again, heading into the main street of Opunake and reaching the vans to make our way home. A great relaxed family day out in the sea breezes.

Whangaehu River Mouth

Wed 21 Dec 2016 

Scribe: Cherry Channon

Today was a tramp of two halves! Margret McKinnon led a party of nine to Mangaturuturu Hut and Cherry led a group of sixteen to the Whangaehu River Mouth. 

It was a stunning summer’s day. After a short drive to the end of Whangaehu River Road we headed across farmland and into a pine forest where we enjoyed morning tea in the welcome shade. Walking south-west we traversed sand dunes covered in scrubby beach plants including coastal flax, gorse and grasses, after which we skirted a large field until we reached the Turakina River. 

We then followed a rough farm track which eventually brought us to the sea gulls' nesting ground. Adult gulls wheeled overhead raucously voicing their displeasure at our intrusion while we were entertained by grey furry bundles of chicks, ranging from newly hatched to ‘teenagers’, who waddled to their hiding places among the dunes and grasses. 

Whilst being cooled by a soft onshore breeze we walked along the driftwood-scattered beach to the Turakina River Mouth. This was our lunch destination after which we enjoyed a leisurely stroll to the Whangaehu River Mouth, then crossed farmland back to the WTC van for an early afternoon finish.

Flowers and Waterfalls, Ruapehu

Sat 17 Dec 2016 

Scribe: Barbara Gordon

Where were you? Only four for Basil’s trip, and you missed a cracker. Warm, calm and sunny, and Taranaki on the horizon. 

Branching off Mangaturuturu Hut track towards the northwest, we spent six happy hours among rocks, waterfalls and alpine flora. Why didn’t I count stream crossings and the high waterfalls: a dozen or fifteen at least. This area of Ruapehu is seldom visited and we saw nary a soul. Celmisia daisies were breaking their buds, but what we were really after was the mountain buttercup. Would we find it? And then, hiding at the base of a waterfall, to our delight we found one solitary Ranunculus insignis

Rest breaks were taken on high lookouts with the whole world beneath us. We four lizards basked on warm flat rockfaces to digest lunch, shut-eyed to the sound of rushing water. 

After an afternoon negotiating sheer cliffs, rock-hopping and mountaingoatery - and the slaying of a rogue Pinus contorta - the expedition ended with a bang at Tom’s Garden. And all at once we saw a crowd, a host of golden buttercups, bright yellow in the afternoon sun. 

Thank you Basil for leading us into this special part of Ruapehu that few know of. I enjoyed too the company of fellow mountain goats, Tracey Hooper and Mike Miller. My best tramp in a long while. Absolutely. 

Taumarunui Weekend

Sat-Sun 10-11 Dec 2016 

Scribe: Dave Scoullar

Two new day tramps with the Taumarunui Tramping Club were giant pluses for the seven clubbies on a weekend on which the weather gods did not always look kindly on us. 

Day one: We meet TTC at the Rotopounamu car park and drive towards Turangi, a short distance to the Te Ponanga Saddle where the Mt Tihia track begins. After a marked climb through thick bush for just over an hour we reach the alpine slopes and a rock outcrop. Sadly, there is lots of clag and no chance of the promised views so we decide to retreat. 

Plan B is to visit Lake Rotopounamu and we whizz around in two hours -- always a good walk. On to Taumarunui where we settle in the camp ground and then, despite persistent drizzle, enjoy a festive BBQ with the TTC. 

Day two: A day of wind and intermittent rain, hail and sleet but good for all that! From Whakapapa Village our TTC guide Peter leads us up the Ridge Track and then along the crest of the ridge until the headwaters of the Wairere Stream. Down beside the stream to the RMT, close to Taranaki Falls, and then back along this track to our van. A tramp of about five hours. 

Thanks TTC for hospitality and we now have two more potential day walks for our future itinerary. On trip: Dave Scoullar, Dorothy Symes, Ken Howie, Barbara Francis, Esther Williams, Earle Turner and Val Wackrow. 

Footnote: WTC did a day walk to Mt Tihia in 1995 and Marg Walford's trip report enthused over the "fabulous views" and "wonderful sights". 

Whakapapa Village to Whakapapaiti Hut, Mt Ruapehu

Wed 7 Dec 2016

Scribe: Barry Hopper

This was a crossover tramp led by Graham Sutcliffe and Barry Hopper with 19 trampers and two vans. Departed clubrooms 7am picking up Brenda on SH4 at the Te Rimu Rd intersection and continuing on to Whakapapa Village where the uphill group of nine led by myself started from. The downhill group of ten led by Graham carried on up the Bruce Road to the point where the Whakapapaiti track rejoins Bruce Road, just below the Top of the Bruce, for their starting point. The uphill group departed Whakapapa Village at 9.10am with very pleasant tramping conditions, warm with total overcast. Up through beautiful bush with many little bridges over streams. A quick morning tea and on up the Whakapapaiti Valley where we crossed over with the downhill group and exchanged keys etc. A lot of board walks going up the valley and an encounter with several overseas tourists coming down from their Round the Mountain tramp. Just below the Whakapapaiti Hut it was our turn to cross the Whakapapaiti stream. What, NO bridge, what’s this? However the water was SO cold and refreshing it gave us our second wind and it was on up to the hut for a very welcome lunch break. Then, back on the track and up the zigzag to the top of the ridge out of the valley where we stopped to catch our breath. The wind started to get up and because it was so exposed it started to get quite cold, so we carried on over to the Bruce Road and shelter of the van arriving here at 2.15pm. Back down the Bruce Road and through the Whakapapa Village where we saw the downhill group at their van. We carried on down into Raetihi and were half way through our ice-creams when the other van drove past the end of the main street. What, NO ice-creams for them? So it was back to town, petrol and water and back to the WTC clubrooms arriving first at 4.30pm - and we had ICE-CREAM. Those who enjoyed a great day out were: Uphill Group: Andra Beck, Barry Hopper, Bruce Thomas, Cherry Channon, David Taylor, Ian Kirk, John Hamlin, John Smith and Royce Johnson. Downhill Group: Brenda Collins, David Scoullar, Dick Mitchell, George Neill, Graham Sutcliffe, Jeanette Prier, Juliet Kojis, Nelson Tizard, Suzanne Roberts and Robert Lakeland.

Kahui Hut and beyond

Sat 3 Dec 2016 

Scribe: Dave Scoullar

Dry weather over the preceding days meant a relatively dry track up to Kahui Hut in Egmont National Park. After that we took a hunting track heading for Black Rock on the bush edge but stopped just short for lunch with coastal views in pleasant sunshine. 

The return to the van was uneventful apart from meeting four DOC workers clearing pellets from the tracks following a 1080 drop two days earlier. A six hour day. On trip: Dave Scoullar (leader), Ady Gilbert, Margaret Silverwood, Brigitte Hund, Nikki and Kurt (14) Wink, Graeme Aitken and Ridgway Lythgoe.

Lake Dive Hut, Egmont National Park

Wed 20 Nov 2016 

Scribe: Diane Harries

An intrepid group (Esther Williams, Bruce Thomas, Cherry Channon, Kevin Ross, Diane Harries and Royce Johnson) set off to reach Lake Dive Hut. Unfortunately, it was too wet and windy to go up above tree cover, so we abandoned plan A to use the Upper Track, and took the Lower Track instead. The white flowers of the clematis were absolutely stunning, as was the rich green of trees, ferns, mosses and lichens. 

We reached the hut after three and a half hours of hard tramping along a track with many obstacles and stream crossings. We were too wet for more than a short break for lunch at the hut and a glimpse of the lake, before heading back along the track which was now even wetter and muddier. However, must say I really enjoyed this challenging seven hour tramp as I hadn’t been to Lake Dive before, and our group had so much fun!

North Egmont circuit

Wed 23 Nov 2016 

Scribe: Juliet Kojis

A picture-perfect day in Egmont National Park was appreciated by a good turnout of enthusiasts. The circuit followed was from North Egmont, along the RMT to Jacob's Ladder, across to Tahurangi Lodge, down to Maketawa Hut and back through the bush to the van. 

There were plenty of stops to admire the views and take photographs. Lunch was at Tahurangi Lodge. We also stopped at the Hut. The track was in good condition. A six hour day. On trip: Juliet, Helen, Andra, Ian, Barry, David B, Bruce, Suzanne, Cherry, Royce, Diane, Esther, Dick, Chris, Graham S, Dave T, George, Heather, Jeanette, Pippa, Derek and John H.

Ruahines –Toka Trig

Wednesday 16 November 2016 

Scribe: Bruce Thomas

Not many starters for this trip, with weather not very promising. Crossing Coal Creek at the start of the track was no problem and we all decided to go up Shorts Track with the option of carrying on when we reached the tussock, depending on weather conditions. While in cover of the bush it was quite pleasant and some of the group chose to go on to the top. But it was not so good up on the top, in fact it was terrible. Being unable to find the start of the track northwards along the ridge, the obvious option was to retrace our steps and head back into the bush. 

After lunch in a nice sheltered spot we carried on down via the Dearford track and back to the van. In spite of the weather it was still an enjoyable day. The group was Bruce, Dave S, Juliet, Laurel, George and Margret.

Old Ghost Road

9-13 November 2016 

Scribe: Esther Williams

Misty rain, thunder, fault lines, slips, swollen streams and mild temperatures and more we experienced on our five day trip off the Buller Gorge arriving north west at Seddonville, Westland: Sue and Ian Haden, Brigitte Hund and Esther Williams. Every day provided a new scene of rolling hills and long red beech-clad valleys. Tree trunks covered with luxurious lichens and amazing mosses bore witness to the damp climate. We began at The Lyell, passing skeletons of gold settlements and rusty abandoned equipment. Fully loaded people plodding upward for 18 km took seven hours. En route, discreet signs showed spots where cell phone coverage was possible, challenging corners for cyclists had red exclamation marks both sides of S bends. Not one cyclist had a bell. 

Roomy Lyell Saddle Hut held comfortable bunks, gas cooker, pots and blue Briscoes plates. One feature of the OGR Trust accommodation was composting toilets that worked! Further along, we appreciated the cabin accommodation complete with mosquito nets and drafts. Along the tops grew droopy-leaved dracophyllum, the Dr Seuss tree. Each leg of the walk had its resident weka, nosing near walkers but not demanding. Birds seen and heard over the five days: kea, rifleman, bellbird, tui, whitehead, robin, grey warbler, kereru, paradise shelduck, shining and long tailed cuckoos, kakariki, whio (blue duck), and one very loud and repetitive thrush. The area was 1080’d in 2015, a coup for the West Coast. 

Two days spent on the tops with dripping to soaking rain and a light southerly. The rose granite had endured dynamiting to push the track through dramatic landscapes: huge named rocks and slips. After our Ghost Lake second night we loved the top-of-the-world feeling till we met a sign which drew attention to the demands of making the trail: 200 steps to descend. Think of the cyclists going the other way who had to carry bike and gear. On our third night at Stern Hut several groups of drenched cyclists appeared and the main and summer huts were full. Oh, dear. Double booking, in which people had to squeeze up. Even in this remote country we heard the result of the USA election. Brigitte: “People like you and me benefit from those who over cater!!” Did anyone see a bag of dinners left behind in a summer hut? 

The Trust had warned about mud from Stern to Specimen huts so we wondered the quality: like Tararua or Stewart Island? It posed no problem to walkers, but the swollen creeks caused some hesitation. Mokihinui Forks Hut, I had decided, was a sufficient day of walking, 22km. The Old DOC Hut relocated had words warning about sandflies and the felling of an ancient kahikatea plus a slippery slope to the toilet. Thoughtfully placed, a tap alongside the track allows cyclists to clean their bikes. Farm land opposite was ungrazed. In the night a kiwi called three times answered by a rowdy out-of-tune gang of local weka. 

Up and away on our only dry day, crossing new bridges, still in the lush forest we admired the seething Mokihinui river. This awa was saved from hydro-electric power generation by conservationers a few years ago. We had noticed Powelliphanta shells, empty by the track. An interpretation board explained the preservation of these critters: they are sumo wrestlers of the snail world eating worms as we do spaghetti, nocturnal and hermaphrodite laying 5 to 10 1.2-centimetre long eggs a year. The southwest Nelson area abounds with these natives. Look under leaf litter and the base of flax for the live ones. Back in gold town territory with signs of rusty machinery and modern track maintenance digger and rock crusher. Finally another 19km in seven hours and we were at the eastern end of Seddonville getting our key from the new Rough and Tumble Lodge and seeking --- icecream!! 

Just after midnight in Westport, dead tired, we experienced a swaying creaking 7.8 earthquake to the east. Evacuation to outside, standing on sticky magnolia petals which we carted indoors. We enjoyed the ambience of Tripinn: a separate TV room, a sitting room with comfy chairs and a glowing coal furnace which warmed the heaters on the bunkroom walls. 

We were very concerned about club members walking the OGR, comforted by the fact we heard a helicopter daily whilst walking. Apparently this fault-rich area is very well known to the pilot. He flew over checking the huts. When he couldn’t land in the mist, he received a thumbs-up from the occupants. Bravo!!! 

Stats: Petrol and Ferry $266 (1800 km). Trail accommodation $95. Campgrounds and hostel 5 nights $166. Lyell to Lyell Saddle 18km 7 hours. Lyell Saddle to Ghost Lake 12km 5 hours. Ghost Lake to Stern Valley 13km 5 hours. Stern Valley to Seddonville 19km 7 hours. Total 62km / 24 hours walking. Limited accommodation en route provides a wilderness experience.

Penn Creek

Sat-Sun 5-6 Nov 2016 

Scribe: Shane McCulloch

It was a bit of a damp day as we left for Otaki Forks, but a nice walk up to Field Hut for lunch. About three-quarters of an hour above Field was our turnoff down to Penn Creek, a steep downhill track. We arrived just ahead of heavy rain. We had the hut to ourselves until six Victoria University students turned up. Next morning we had breakfast and were gone by nine (students still in bed). I noticed the old track, out of action for some years, had been recut for predator control but not marked. Somebody decided it would be a good idea to go out that way. We had trouble finding markers, had to use ropes to climb up out of the creeks and the slip faces were very unstable. However 9½ hours later, with five minutes for lunch, we made it (Shane McCulloch, Mike Cole, Val Wackrow).

Upper Hutt 

3 – 6 Nov 2016 

Scribe: Jan Pavarno

After the obligatory coffee and shopping stop at Otaki, we got to the Kiwi 10 Holiday Park in Upper Hutt, where we had very comfortable accommodation. After lunch we walked across the footbridge and down the true right side of the Hutt River, hoping to get as far as Moonshine Bridge. However we didn’t quite get there, as the Whakatiki River was a bit deep to cross, so returned to Camp. 

4th Nov: Walked in to Turere Hut on the Oronorongo River, along the Orongorongo Valley. A beautiful benched track through lovely forest. Ideal tramping weather with slightly overcast and occasional sunshine, and a most enjoyable walk. 

5th Nov: Met Ann Royl at the Hill Rd entrance of Belmont Regional Park and followed the Hill Farm Rd up to the WWII ammunition magazine. Lovely views over towards Pauatahanui and back to the Hutt Valley and the inner harbour. Followed the Old Coach Road for a while, then down via the Bull Run, back to the van. The Bull Run is a cycle track that is very steep and it beats me how they could stay on their bikes let alone ride downhill !!! 

6th Nov: Met Ann at Whites Line East and walked up the easy graded benched Te Whitu Firebreak Track to the Summit Road, where there were lovely views over to Wainuiomata and back over the Hutt Valley. Followed the ECNZ Road up a short but very steep climb to the unmarked Dry Creek Zigzag track. It was quite steep down and fairly slippery after light rain, so the bum brakes were in occasional use. 

The trip was cut short so that we could come back and farewell our good friend Margy Walford, who will be sadly missed. Many thanks to driver Jacky. 

Those on the trip: Jacky E, Helen A, June W, Pam W, Bev S, Kate J, Jeanette P, Jan P.

Burtton’s Track, Tararua Forest Park 

Wed 2 Nov 2016 

Scribe: Cherry Channon

Despite a dodgy weather forecast, 20 keen trampers were keen to stretch their legs and we headed off at 7am for Burtton's Track inland from Shannon. Burtton's Track is the historical trail built over 100 years ago by Jim Burtton and it follows the Tokomaru River. 

We crossed a number of streams and by late morning the rain became persistent so we didn't make it to Burtton's whare for lunch. Being aware that streams would be rising due to the rain, we decided to return to the vans which is just as well as one of our members became unwell. We thought the PLB may have to be used to summon medical assistance but our 'hero' was adamant that as long as he could take it slowly he could walk out – and he did! 

He perked up as soon as he had changed into dry clothes and was warm. On reaching Wanganui we took him directly to hospital where his wife and medical staff were waiting and we left him in good hands. He assures us that he will be back tramping as soon as possible. 

Burtton’s Track 

2 November 2016

Scribe: Graham Ellett

Tramping. Doing it right. Why do we do it? Most Wednesdays I go tramping. Why? Is it the 'thrill of the chase?' The sense of achievement from reaching a specific destination (hut, peak, trig, the rimu tree we saw three years ago), and the bull**** (ie, stimulating conversation) from whoever in the back seat? 

Some people get fit at the gym or by climbing Durie Hill steps. To walk through nature on Wednesday suits me fine. The outings, company, and changes of scenery replenish my soul and recharge my batteries for the week. 

There are so many locations and destinations to choose from each week. Sharing the decisions, costs and driving makes it possible. Training new members, developing navigation skills ...the challenges, organising, and the abuse, of course (!) We are central to a great assortment of mountains, beaches, farms, rivers and bushland and have built up an energetic tramping club. 

On a recent trip early November I was reminded why I choose to go out with such a great team. I’d had an enjoyable morning walk, lots of rain and lots of jokes. The afternoon, however, turned to ****.weatherwise - and healthwise. My stamina dwindled, then disappeared. I got 'there' but what a struggle to 'get back'. Tail-end Charlie encouraged me on, but to little avail. My health worsened and with the PLB close at hand, I pushed on with what energy I could summon. I have read about losses involving fit trampers in the wilderness and it was worrying realising I was so close to being one of them. 

Many thanks to all on the Burtton Track, those who took my pulse and pack and all who were patient and encouraging. I am so glad that I had you with me. Thanks, thank you, thanks again. See you on the track next time. Kind regards, Graham Ellett.

Rhodo Ramble, Taranaki 

Sat 29 Oct 2016 

Scribe: Sandra Rogers

We had a variety of places to see on this trip. First up was The Village Gallery in Eltham, an exhibition of pottery and mixed media by three different artists - mainly modern art. Second, Abstract Signs Garden Art – photos on corrugated iron and some lovely scenes from around Taranaki. Third, Regan House - an established English style garden with a 1910 villa, beautifully set out with ‘rooms’ of gardens. Fourth, Mosen’s garden, a mature 1½ acre town garden with a stream and extensively planted bog garden. A wonderful lunch stop and lots of lovely areas to explore. Fifth, Hollard Gardens, the pick of them all - a 4.5 hectare property established in 1927. Lovely walks through mature and intimate gardens and then, by contrast, the openness and diversity of the large lawn area; wonderful flowers. 

On the trip were Sandra Rogers, Dorothy Symes, Beverley Sinclair, Brenda Baxter, Doris Hamling, Irene Back, Jeanette Maskery, Jeanette Prier, Lynette Gordon, Mary Halberson, Pam Watson.

Wairaka Walkway, Pukerua Bay to Plimmerton 

Wed 26 Oct 2016 

Scribe: Sue Haden

Twenty-three hardy souls departed 7am to walk the Wairaka Walkway, a 9.2km coastal route from Pukerua Bay Beach to Plimmerton - ably driven by Barry and Mike C. Two hours later we parked at Pukerua Bay railway station and with the wind at our backs, zigzagged down to the foreshore, ably led by Barbara Gordon who resided in the hills of Pukerua from 1969 to 2005. 

The walk was fairly laboured and tough on the ankles, over stones and rock, an outgoing tide (thanks Earle), and much to Barbara’s delight a rough sea. Kapiti and Mana Islands periodically exposed themselves between odd light showers but the South Island was not visible. Chivalry from George and Dick who helped the ladies (and some men) over a particularly tricky rocky section, otherwise it was plain sailing to the Moana Rd shingle. Then tarsealed promenade in Plimmerton where Earle was quite taken with a mannequin of a young lady with a short dress displayed in a resident’s window! At one point we had our hopes up for a piecart stop when we stumbled across an (occupied) blue caravan tucked under the cliff face at lunchtime. 

Caught the train back to the van, free for gold card holders and a whole $3.00 for those U-65 and those who forgot their cards. Ice-cream stop at Te Horo (no George, your gold card does not get you a free ice-cream) and home. Thank you Dorothy for ably and willingly stepping up to help me lead my first trip. Much appreciated parrrrrdner!

South Beach 

Mon 24 Oct 2016 

Scribe: Dave Scoullar

You don't often get a good beach day in windy October, but this one turned out to be a beaut. The seven punters started at the very relaxed hour of 10am and walked for two and a half hours towards the Whangaehu River, observing lots of other Labour Monday activities on the beach, including fishing, boating, four wheel drive cars and motorbikes. 

The kids found one and half sharks (small) and lots of shells while the 43 adults talked about adult things and enjoyed the warm and near calm conditions. 

On trip: Dave Scoullar (leader), Steve Hormann, Ross McBeth and grandchildren Ina (8) and Grace (10), and Maurice and Sue Mildenhall.

Tangimoana Beach and Forest 

Thur 20 Oct 2016 

Scribe: Fred Verschoor

Twenty-seven drove off in light rain, which cleared by the time we reached Tangimoana. There was little wind for a brisk walk south along the beach. We found a sheltered hollow in the sand dunes for our lunch stop, before returning through pine forest. This was a great walk with fabulous views, marred only by trash littering the beach – glass, tins, bottles, beer cans, plastic. The ice-cream stop was at Tangimoana store located in the attractive little village. Most of us had never been to ‘Tangi’ before, making for a special and very enjoyable day. 

Zeke’s Hut, Hihitahi Reserve 

Wed 19 Oct 2016 

Scribe: Graham Sutcliffe

The track crosses farmland, enters the bush and winds its way to a high point (once supporting a trig) with good views of the surrounding countryside - especially Ruapehu. From here the track winds its way down the other side to the hut. We pass at times very good bush although realising it was not that far from surrounding farmland. Today the track was fine because of little previous rain but it’s not advisable in wet conditions. Allow a good 5½ hours for this trip, not including lunch. 

Those out for the day were: Andra & Andy Beck, Bryan Shaw, David Davidson, David Scoullar, Diane Harries, Esther Williams, John Hamling, Ken Howie, Kevin Ross, Laurel Stowell, Margret McKinnon, Royce Johnson, Sandy Glennie, Sue Haden, Suzanne Roberts, and leaders Barry Hopper & Graham Sutcliffe. 

York Road, Taranaki 

Wed 12 Oct 2016

Scribe: Sandra Rogers

Twenty-four headed for York Road at the foot of Mt Taranaki, a pleasant and easy three-hour walk through bush, with a river and streams. This area was the quarry producing metal for the railway and roads in the area. Good information boards and relics to view along the way. What was the weather like?  – well…

It rained and rained and rained.
The average fall was well maintained.
And when the tracks were simply bogs,
It started raining cats and dogs.
After a drought of half an hour,
We had a most refreshing shower.
And then; most curious thing of all,
A gentle rain began to fall.
Next hour, but one was fairly dry,
Save for one deluge from the sky.
That wetted the party to the skin,
And then at last the rain set in.   (Anon.)

On the trip were Sandra R (leader), Andra B, Barry H, Bruce T, Cherry C, Di H, Dorothy S, Earle T, George N, Graham E, Jacky E, Jeanette P, Jill R, John S, Kevin R, Margret M, Ray W, Royce J, Sandy G, Shari T, Sue H, Sue M, Suzanne R, Margaret C.

Marton Sash and Door Tramways

Sat 8 Oct 2016 

Scribe:  Dorothy Symes

We met Peter Panton and three members from the Taumarunui Tramping Club at Station Café, National Park, our group of seven becoming eleven. The plan was to explore the round trip on these trails, which are also designated cycle trails. At TTC’s advice we drove about 2km through a wire gate, parked on a grassy area, and started walking through an old mill site and quarry. The extra info TTC provided was useful and most interesting.

Soon we were heading up what was pretty much the only hill, where we could look back at our start point.  From the top we continued through native bush, eventually coming to a Y section in the track. We took the right arm and continued down the western side of the loop to the metal road off Erua Road at the end.  This part of the track is most interesting, with evidence of sleepers from the logging tracks that in former times transported the logs. The walk itself is very pleasant, with several interpretation notices conveying the logging history, which included a significant tragedy. Among numerous points of industry were remnants of machinery just off the track, possibly the means of moving the logs for milling. 

Getting to Cuff Road, we took a left and walked approximately 2km down to Erua Road, then a km or so before veering off a well marked downhill on logging tracks.  This followed Waimarino Stream, with views to the south over swamplands and National Park.

At the bridge near SH1 we had our lunch before locating the track back into the loop. No one had done this section before, so it was ‘a bit of an explore’. Most pleasant, flat all the way as we followed the main trunk railway through tall pine forest and an old dilapidated hut. A further 2 km to our vehicles, where we changed and made for the café for a lovely hot drink and cookie.

The walk itself is 17 km, easy going and taking just on five hours. An overcast day, so no magnificent mountain views. Nevertheless a great day was the verdict as we farewelled our Taumarunui chums.

On the tramp: Peter Panton and three TTC members, Andra, Brigitte, Jill, Marilyn, Reti , Linda and Dorothy (leader).

Mangawhio Lakes

Wed 5 October 2016

Scribe: Dave Scoullar

Of the 25 who turned out for the trek to Mangawhio Lakes, seven were children aged 5 to 15 -- is this a record for a Wednesday?  It certainly underlines the opportunity to recruit the next generation of trampers by running children-friendly tramps during the school holidays.

The trip itself was pretty routine -- along the newly-refurbished road to the lakes, up the track to the crest and back down again through the production forest. Ending a good day out with only brief showers, with a compulsory ice cream at Waitotara. 

Old Coach Road

Sun 2 Oct 2016

Leaders: Royce Johnson and Diane Harries (scribe)

Undaunted by an awful weather forecast, the group of nine Wanganui and two Taumarunui members tackled the Old Coach Road from the north end, starting at 9 am. History of the cobbled coach road and the train track was given on interpretation panels. Beautiful podocarp forest, mountain cabbage trees and tree ferns shaded most of the trail.

The weather improved gradually all day with sunshades and t-shirts during lunch at noon on the viaduct. Walked back via gully track and out to Marshall's Road end by 1:45pm.

Thanks to Peter Panton from Taumarunui for helping with the vehicle swap-over.

Taranaki Weekend 

Sat - Sun 1-2 October 2016 

Scribe: Dave Scoullar

A bit of tramping, a bit of culture, a bit of this and a bit of that -- the annual Taranaki Weekend was its usual eclectic self. 

Day one the team headed to Stratford Mountain House and walked (almost) to Curtis Falls in gloomy weather. The track was sopping but it wasn't cold. Moving on to New Plymouth, we spent time at Tupare, a stately house and gardens complex before the customary meal and movies at the cinema complex. 

Day two didn't look that flash when we joined five members of the New Plymouth Tramping Club. But we stuck to their game plan and began a tramp in Egmont National Park but were turned back by a river too high to cross. Returning to the van and with the weather improving rapidly, we did a circuit involving the Waiwhakaiho Track and Egmont Rd. On the way home we called at an art gallery in Stratford and heard the glockenspiel do its thing. At Nukumaru we admired Dalvanius' elaborate headstone to complete an enjoyable, many-faceted weekend. 

On trip: Dave Scoullar, Ken Howie, Julie Kearse, Jacky Evans and Esther Williams. 

Mt Thompson Otaki

Wed 21 Sept 2016

Leaders Graham Sutcliffe and Dorothy Symes (Scribe)

‘Mount Thompson’ is a tramp of 4½ to 5 hours, supposedly DoC-managed.  On the south side of the track were few markers but easy to follow, mostly four wheel drive with some places walkable only and very muddy. Easy enough to negotiate through very pretty native bush despite a few foreign botanical species there. To get to the start of this end of the track we turned left at Waitohu Road, the second turnoff north of Otaki. We continued east past Ringawhati Road, around to the right, then left into a quarry entrance. Access through the quarry continues for a short distance over private farmland, requiring permission and any parking direction for the day.  We were on a weekday when the quarry was working;  it’s important to consider these details when planning.

The trip was not too familiar as a club trip hadn’t been taken there for some time.  Roger Kealey had explored earlier in the year and was able to lead the group from the north entrance. Intrigued trampers, numbers filling two vans, was just perfect for the crossover we hoped for.  We didn’t quite meet for lunch - a little uncertainty about which grassy point was the spot for lunch. So both groups were waiting and waiting and finally the northerners moved on, finding the southerners, all lunched up and basking in the sun. So here at the ‘cross over’ a natter and some banter, then downwards for both groups on opposing sides of the ‘mount’.  As well to know there is no cell phone coverage up there.

So now, the southern group continued down on the northern side, and ten minutes to arrival at the other lunch spot - actually Mt Thompson - where we enjoyed magnificent views up and down the Kapiti Coast. We continued down through quite different landscapes, on forestry tracks where trees had been felled some time ago.  A bit tricky, keep to the right track as there are quite a few turnoffs. Roger told us about the woody arrows at our crossover point. At day’s end we crossed a very smart new bridge over the Waikawa Stream, where the van was waiting. The drive out was on the Manakau road to SH1 and home..

We had good weather, an enjoyable day for 23 club members.

Rangitikei Reserves

Sat 17 Sep 2016

Scribe: Graeme Aitken

Those on the walk: Graeme Aitken (leader), Nikki Wink; Andra and Andy Beck; Beverley Sinclair.  We left the clubrooms about 7.30am and arrived at McPherson’s Reserve 8.15am.  Shortly after finishing this, on to Sutherland Turakina Reserve. Just a small amount of mud but otherwise fairly dry considering recent rain.  Both reserves had some windfall and there was a good amount of birdlife.  Next, Bruce Reserve just south of Hunterville.  At the entrance you could see where State Highway 1 was.  During this time there was light rain but we were mostly sheltered.  This is a small reserve which only took up to 30 minutes.    Our last reserve was Pryce’s Rahui Reserve, somewhere new for us.  Have often seen the sign so thought it would be worth a look.  This reserve had a wetlands with board walks.  There was a good size matai tree, the base and roots providing seating for our lunch break.    All these reserves were in native bush and we were lucky with the weather considering what was forecast.  Our icecream stop was Marton,  back home before 3.

Manawatu Gorge

Sun 4 Sep 2016

Scribe:  Dorothy Symes

A favourite for our members, the Manawatu Gorge, led by Barbara Francis who stepped in at short notice. There were 15 passengers and one van so a car was necessary. But not for a crossover - can’t cram a vanload into a car at the other end!  Not to be beaten, all were dropped off at the Ashhurst end while the drivers carried on to the Woodville end, setting off uphill to meet the main group.  There, the drivers about-turned and descended to the van with the others.  

Earlier, the drivers had discovered another walkway, about 20 minutes through bush and down to the café we normally visit.  Weather good with only an occasional slight drizzle and all enjoyed the day.

Leatherwood Wandering

Sat-Sun 3-4 September 2016

Scribe: Dave Scoullar

The highlight - or maybe lowlight - of our traverse of the southern Ruahine to Kiritaki Hut was the leatherwood grovel. The Fab Five climbed the steep DoC track on the end of No 1 Line in an hour and a quarter and then came some three and a half hours along an undulating informal track through a swathe of leatherwood. In all we climbed 600m and then dropped 200m.

There were many windfalls to clamber over or under in windy conditions with low visibility but eventually we spotted the orange hut in the distance, emerging some 400m from our destination on a nice, smooth DoC track.

We had the hut to ourselves and it was a windy night but things had settled down by the morning and the team set off at 7.40am and arrived back at the van right on noon, a bit on the damp side from drizzle over the 1011m highest point. An interesting trip which covered some new ground for all of us. 

On trip: Dave Scoullar, Brigitte Hund, Ken Howie, Val Wackrow and Alan Taylor. 

LEATHERWOOD WARS

by Tail End Charlie

Gather round friends and I'll tell you a story
Of the Famous Five tramping to glory.
Into the tough leatherwood with never a care
Always confident that they would get there.
 
Alan's in front, showing us the way.
Then comes Val, she can walk all through the day.
Brigitte is good at dodging low logs
And Ken, he's a gun at avoiding the bogs.
Our brave leader Dave trails in the rear
With assuring words, "I think the track's here."
 
The hours they drag by and the hut's now in sight
We have almost completed our leatherwood fight.
But to think at the end of such a hard day
Tomorrow we face going back the sameway!

Rotokare Reserve

Sun 28 Aug 2016

Scribe:  Dorothy Symes

This trip was planned for Rotokare Reserve, but because of the distance to travelI wanted to add extra interest to the day. Audrey Thompson (one of our members who lives in Taranaki) put me in touch with Kara, a very active Forest and Bird member in the region.  Audrey invited us to travel with them to a totara forest walkway in from Eltham on the way to Rotokare where we enjoyed magnificent scenery over high hills all the way to Mount Ruapehu. What a sight, with Mt Taranaki behind us as we travelled on with our new Taranaki friends.  At our destination we met the F&B people and walked with them on the 3 km track up to the hut.  

The hut was just amazing: obviously built on to over time and looked after by this very passionate group of people.  Very proud they were too, to show it off. The 360 degree views were a treat, just stunning withRuapehu one way and Taranaki the other. The bright, sunny and calm day was ‘one out of the box’. We were treated to scones and home-baking for morning tea, while listening to Kara.  Then pleasant chat, including our own club’s achievements:   Waitahinga and Possum Lodge literature has since been sent on. 

Reluctantly we made the move to Rotokare, with Audrey as well. She is a very active member and volunteer for the Rotokare Reserve and we learned more from her.  Lunch was taken overlooking the water before the lake circuit. 

Another good day enjoyed by nine.  Doris came too and was treated with a quad bike ride with Rex up to the F&B hut.

Dawson Falls, Wilkies Pools Plateau

Wed 24 Aug 2016

Scribe:  Graeme Ellett

Another early pick up at Waitotara with Bruce organising the vans and Cherry the second van driver.  The mountain was mostly clear, a lovely fine day to start with, and was a challenging sight/site for the 13 on the trip.  With a 9:00am, start up through the Goblin Forest of old kamahi trees till we reached the elevated board walk leading us to Wilkies Pools, named after a local farmer and mountain climber - the pools formed with water gouging out channels in 20000 year old lava formation.

As we climbed higher, more hardened snow patches let us know it is still winter. The dotted lines of the ski tow were still showing on the snow -covered mountain.  The enchanted walk down the steps lived up to its name and was also in very good, well maintained condition.  The pace was so good that Andra had a tumble resulting in a sprained thumb.  She was treated by Dr Mike with a small first aid kit. We were able to carry on to Waingongoro Hut for lunch (a nice hut, could have stayed for a week).  

But with the weather settling in to the steady rain which had been predicted, we trudged back to Dawson Falls. The track was covered with small branches broken by the recent heavy snow storm. With the rain getting heavier, an early end to a good day was a good idea, with a hot drink at Hawera.  Passing a car accident by Ihaia Rd junction was a reality check.  We realised how lucky we were to have enjoyed another day on the mountain and to make it home safely.

We were : Cherry, Esther, Andra, Val, Sue H, Rozy, Bruce, Barry H, Mike M, Dave, Juliet and of course, happy birthday tomorrow to George!


 
This Year’s Winning Tramper Contribution: Diane’s vivid description and her stunning front-cover photo had me wishing I’d been there, on that tramp. #251 p47
— Barbara Gordon 7th June 2017

Ruapehu Summit in the Snow

Sun 21 Aug 2016

Scribe:  Diane Harries

After a successful snowcraft course the week before, Royce and I headed out again with Mike Cole to the snowy slopes of Ruapehu. A Sunday with beautiful sunshine on the mountain meant that the skiers and snow boards were out in force, and we had to park down at car park number 9 on the Bruce Road. This meant we had to walk even further to get past the chalets before fitting crampons to our boots. Shane and his friend Niranjan, Tracey and Mike made up our group of six for the tramp up the snow to the summit. 

Sometimes we followed trails and other times we worked our way straight up the gentler slopes, grateful for our ice axes and crampons to get traction on the slippery icy gradients. With the sunshine making the temperature pleasant, the melting ice formations resulted in many stunning photo stops. One huge block of ice next to a metal track marker pole had melted unevenly, forming a window through which we could see the snow-capped summit of Ngauruhoe way below us across the valley. 

On reaching the rim of the crater, we faced a bitterly cold wind coming across the summit, soon avoided by dropping back down below the rim, where three of us soaked up the view, while the others worked around the rim to the highest point. Returning with tales of slippery, icy, scary conditions, Shane reassured us that we would not have enjoyed their escapade around the rim. Our climb had taken four and a half hours to the rim, and had been worth every tiring step of the way, but going down was all play, stepping and sliding in the soft snow, and only taking half the time. Definitely the tramp of the year for us!


Ruatiti

Sat 20 Aug 2016

Scribe:  Bruce Thomas

 Roadworks on the Parapara meant a detour up Field’s Track, then back to Raetihi to meet the Taumarunui group at Ohura Road corner. From there it was a slow, interesting trip to the beginning of the Mangapurua Road where the lone toilet attracted an instant queue.

Track conditions were good, with just the odd muddy puddle. After half an hour we stopped for morning tea with a perfect view of Ruapehu to the east, arriving at the McIntyre place right on lunch time. Going further to the trig and the new memorial was too far for this day (next time), so after lunch we retraced our steps back to the van.

As the trip was originally going to be based around Winston and Heather Oliver’s place, we called there on our way home for a quick look around their garden and a very welcome cuppa from Winston. The day finished with an interesting return journey via the River Road.

It was a good day for Bruce Thomas, Helen Atkinson, Jacky Evans, Dorothy Symes, AndraBeck, Barbara Gordon, Jeanette Maskery, Ady Gilbert, Ross McBeth, Margaret Chainey, Julie Kearse and Jeanette Prier, plus ten from Taumarunui.

Wharite Peak

Wed 17 Aug 2016

Scribe: Dave Scoullar

Oh dear, another DS trip that was meant to go over there but finished up over here. It's true. The promo said Egmont National Park but the reality was Wharite Peak. DS pleaded not guilty to wilful deception, explaining that snow levels ruled out the original plan.

As it happened the day was perfect for a wander up to Wharite Peak from Coppermine Creek, an enjoyable six hour there and back trip.  

On trip: Dave Scoullar (leader), Cherry Channon, Margret McKinnon, Esther Williams, Tracey Hooper, Sue Haden, Royce Johnson, Ross McBeth, Ridgway Lythgoe, Mike Cole, Maura Skilton, George Neil, Graham Sutcliffe and Katharina Scheff (German visitor).


Runner-Up Tramper Contribution: Don Gordon’s dramatic account of a cluster of calamities had lessons for us all
— Barbara Gordon 7th June 2017

Harrex Forest, Rangitatau West Rd, Maxwell

Thur 11 Aug

Scribe:  Don Gordon

Twenty-one happy trampers and a fine day. We’d been here before – pine forest on fairly steep country and muddy under foot.  After an hour and a half, opens out on to paddocks grazing some quality bully beef. Then back in to forest, heading down to a known good spot for lunch. Maybe we were a bit slow and did not quite make it.  Fed and watered, we set off re-tracing our steps. 

Shortly we were to be reduced to twenty happy trampers:  Katy went over and suffered what appeared to be a sprained ankle. She put on a brave face and made it back to the open ground. At this point it was clear she would need assistance to get out. Our leader Earle convened a council of chiefs and the decision was made to set off the PLB. 

So far so good. An hour passed and then Jan said she had weak cell phone reception. Another meeting of chiefs – decision, phone Police.  Great decision, and Jan became our communications centre. Out of left field (really!) came Sandy Henare on his tractor. Yes he could help.  Now Jan was tasked with sorting all this info out with the Police. The day was saved - no helicopter.

The party had split - one half returning to their van, remainder to wait for Sandy’s ute.  At this point situation saved - drama over.  Not quite.  The return-to-van party ‘lost’ a member, this communicated to us while waiting at Pukerimu Road.  Our intrepid leader at this point was shuttled by Sandy.  Another meeting of chiefs plus Sandy:  Walter and Ray to retrace the steps of our van one party.  Meantime van one party returned to Rangitautau West Road and located our man. Phew!

The heroes in this exercise:  Sandy (suitably acknowledged), Jan, Ray, Walter and Earle – for stress!  The patient is recovering – fracture of the fibula.  Thanks to you all for your support.   


Gourmet Meal trip

Sat-Sun 6-7 August 2016

Scribe: Dave Scoullar

Our annual gourmet meal trip to Egmont National Park coincided with a southerly blast and snow dump that blocked roads to the huts, so we turned our backs on the mountain and ended up at the New Plymouth Top 10. 

A brisk walk was taken along the Coastal Walkway before settling down to the main event - the meal. We celebrated with an Olympic theme as a succession of delicious dishes were consumed.

On Sunday the team walked further along the Coastal Walkway, climbed Paritutu or explored the nearby beach, and then drove to Lucy's Gully in the Kaitake Range where we completed a loop walk. Though the weekend didn't turn out anything like the organisers planned, everyone seemed pretty happy with the outcome.  

On trip: Dave Scoullar, Juliet Kojis, Andy and Andra Beck, Margret McKinnon, Esther Williams, Brigitte Hund, Dorothy Symes, Sandra Rogers and Val Wackrow.

Mangamahu Meander 

Sun 31 Jul 2016

Scribe:  Frances Gibbons

With Brenda Collins and Frances Gibbons as leaders, we were sixteen in total. Although we departed Wanganui under gloomy and threatening skies, the optimists among us pointed out that the horizon to the east was noticeably lighter - and indeed conditions did improve as we travelled 45km to Mangamahu. 

Welcomed by Brenda at the local hall, we then walked back along the road adjoining the Whangaehu River - fast-flowing, high and muddy after recent rain - then through pine forest on a road leading up to an airstrip and fertiliser store. From our vantage point we could view a patchwork of light and shade across the landscape immediately below us and on the distant hills. 

Descending via a 45 degree ridge proved tricky – mud, mud and more mud – but all made it safely down to the road.  We visited the local church (built in 1907), admiring the beautiful native-timbered interior and noticing two boards honouring men and women of the district who had made the supreme sacrifice in two world wars.  

After lunch at the hall (with the luxury of hot water on tap for coffee, and flush toilets!) we wandered north, through another plantation and across country, making our way back along the road to the vans. My thanks to our drivers Dorothy and Earle, and to fellow trampers for their company on a day when, in spite of the Mangamahu mud, our meander was enhanced by reasonable weather. 

Rangiwahia Hut, Ruahine Range

Wed 27 Jul 2016

Scribe:  Graham Sutcliffe 

The weather report was not good but 23 turned out for a 7.30am start. The track to the hut is well formed and the gradient is good which makes it a popular track for families and school parties in both summer and winter.  Leaving the vans at 9.30am we were all at the hut by 11.30am.  

On the way up we experienced rain which had stopped by the time we had finished lunch.  The track goes through a range of vegetation types from red beech forest through kaikawaka and leatherwood to tussock.  On clear days there are views to Mt Ruapehu.  

Those out on this day were Andra and Andy Beck, Brenda Collins, Sue Haden, Diane Harries, Tracey Hooper, Barry Hopper, Ken Howie, Royce Johnson, Juliet Kojis, Sue McBride, Margret McKinnon, George Neil, Suzanne Roberts, Sandra Rogers, Kevin Ross, David Scoullar, Bryan Shaw, Cherry Channon, Bruce Thomas, Esther Williams, and leaders Dorothy Symes and Graham Sutcliffe.

Six Disks

Wed 20 Jul 2016

Scribe: Esther Williams

Forecast for 20 July: south west gales, avalanches likely in National Parks.  Therefore, Guide George advised the sheltered Six Disks Track in the forest east of Levin. 

The Horowhenua basked in midweek sunlight, remote peaks dusted with snow.  After trudging over a sun soaked soggy river flat we paused for a bite then entered the still forest of the Tararua foothills. The DoC sign indicated the junction to Gable End, Waiopehu and South Ohau Huts with one indication only for Six Disks. An arrow pointing the other way would improve the information, since this track is circular.

A pied tit appeared to challenge and welcome us; occasional bird song: bellbird, grey warbler and robin. Strands of giant trees rimu and tawa overhead while sometimes we glimpsed pale blue fungi, like homes for miniscule gnomes appearing from the soil. As we ascended and descended, lots of human talk. Still warm and windless.

"It was quite taxing with the climbing. I enjoyed it immensely with lunch by the river."

The writer's once muddy Keen boots are scrubbed, awaiting Inspector George.

Trampers; Esther, Andrew, Barry H, Bruce, Cherry, David and Juliet, Royce, Margret, George, Margaret C.

Lake Mangawhio

Sun 17 Jul 2016

Scribe: Dorothy Symes

Threatening weather, but 24 trampers enjoyed a great day with just some brief light drizzle. Basil, with his back-country Waitotara knowledge, encouraged me to lead this trip after visiting the lake just after the devastating storm of June 2015 which lowered Mangawhio Lake dramatically and destroyed its former serenity.  We had been advised the way through was passable,  and – not really knowing what to expect - decided on a cross over.  A good decision and we had the numbers.

The first group parked at Kaimanuka and walked a short distance on a ‘paper road’ not requiring landowner permission. The Kaimanuka track leaves Waitotara valley about 4km from Kakaho Junction. The second group went to the other end of the track on Lakes Road, from Ngutuwera.  At our end, it was gradually upwards all the way to the lake, a bit muddy in places but not too bad. We met the other group on the way, had a bit of a yarn and continued to our respective destinations.  We had lunch at the lake, still very different from the serenity it once displayed. Obviously over time we might expect it to re-establish its uniqueness and continue to be a special place to visit.  An interesting pause, and the lake, I’m sure, will continue to change for a good while.  

On we toddled, downhill now, coming to the site of the great ’blowout’ / collapse that caused the lake to drain to the lower level one sees today. Having visited this part of the track before the 2015 storm, I noticed the landscape has become vast and bare looking. No pine forest – trees all cleared now.  The huge new culvert and earthworks have created what looks like a four line highway - newly completed for access to properties we had passed earlier.

So, yes!  We had a good day, finishing at the Waitotara Store with the usual ice cream treat.

The Kai Iwi tramp that wasn’t

Thur 14 Jul 2016

Scribe: Barbara Gordon

A foul, foul weather forecast – gales, heavy rain and maybe thunder - but Jan, Kate, Sharron, Jeanette, Earle, Jim and Barbara were prepared to give Ngarino Road a go. It can be pretty exposed there: how about Westmere walkway instead? Oh, that will be muddy and slippery. Resolve is fading ... How about around the bridges? But the rain stops, blue patches appear, and the outcome is a dry, very pleasant bridges walk ending with coffee at Caroline’s - and just in time to avoid the next heavy shower. No dirty, wet gear to deal to and a picnic lunch on our own living room floors. Not so bad, after all.

York Loop Track and Stratford

Sat 9 Jul 2016

Scribe: Graeme Aitken

A 7.35am departure for the York LoopTrack, arriving about 9.30am. This walk was made interesting with signage and historic sites. Although the information booklet said ‘about three hours’, we finished just before lunch including looking at the sites and morning tea. From there we set off for Stratford, with lunch at the park before starting the Carrington Walkway. At the Western Loop we found the track closed for maintenance, so back to where we started near the netball courts and to the other side through to Swansea Street, then back to the van. The York Loop was through native bush. Through the Stratford part was bush and you would not think you were in a town. East of Broadway was more urban. The tracks follow the Patea River and were fairly dry, but there was a south-easterly wind keeping things cool. Coffee or ice creams at Hawera before arrival in Wanganui before 4.30pm. On the walk: Graeme Aitken (leader), Nikki Wink, Barry Hopper, Michael Hopper, Linda Hart, Pippa McLay, Derek McLay, Maura Skilton, Margaret Silverwood and Ross McBeth. 

Waiaua Hut

Wed 6 Jul 2016

Scribe: Graham Ellett

What a wonderful country! A cool crisp start to my day as I waited at Waitotara - all the spade work done in town by Bruce and Royce our other van driver. Low cloud as we journeyed through Taranaki. We passed by my first farm purchase back in 1980 (Oeo Rd), on to Ihaia Rd and up to the end. Well nearly, then 1 km of grass and slush walk before climbing a steady grade of track and bush to reach an open spot for our smoko break. The bush was quiet of bird calls. Further up the track the chimney of the old Oaonui hut site still stands near the Oaonui Stream. Another hour further on we crossed the Waiaua Stream and heard from Dave how a swing bridge used to be the way across. A short detour to the ladder before stopping for lunch at the Waiaua hut. Large – sunny - a toilet - a beautiful view of the mountain, and everyone wanting a return trip. Mike practised firewood splitting.

With a tight schedule some had a shortened lunch to allow time to venture into the Avro Anson plane wreck of September 1944. History – nostalgia – passion – adventure - and sadness for the couple of guys who lost their lives. We enjoyed our visit and soon were on our way back to the van. With an occasional look back at the magnificent mountain, we felt close to paradise. At the van we were approached by a local farmer's wife. Farming is fun too, but apparently we must have had more fun than this exhausted farmer. She had been mustering escapee young heifers much of the day. All ended happily!! To be followed by an ice-cream and home.

On the trip: Andra and Andy B, Barry H, Bruce T, Cherry C, David S, Diane H, George N, Jeanette P, John H, Juliet K, Kevin R, Mike C, Robert L, Royce J, Sue H, Suzanne R, and myself.

Rangiwhaia

Sat 3 July 2016

Scribe: Sandra Rogers

Fifteen merry souls set off for Rangiwhaia and the new bush reserve with beautiful big rimu, totara and kahikatea trees - a little steep in places but well worth the journey. Recommended to take one to one and a half hours. I was impressed how well marked the track was. A lot of work has gone into it, even having steps cut. Next, off to the Mangahuia Wetlands Reserve between Rangiwahia and Pohongina Valley East: a large man-made lake with plantings and white swans. Another delightful new area for us to explore. Pohongina Valley East DOC camp was last on our list. This one has the biggest tree of them all, a kahikatea. Thank you to the 15 who accompanied me: Margaret Walford, Pam Watson, Adie Gilbert, Barbara Gordon, Delia Carrington, Kathy O’Donnell, Jeanette Maskery, Caroline Shingleton, Jude Harrison, Andy and Andra Beck, Ross McBeth, Barbara Francis, Dorothy Symes, and leader Sandra Rogers.


Commended Tramper Contribution: An arduous and gruelling trudge described with humour
— Barbara Gordon 7th June 2017

Waitotara Mud 

Thur 30 June 2016

Scribe: Julie Kearse

A day of MUD and JUSTS. Fourteen trampers were warmly welcomed by Bas with hot drinks in the newly refurbished farmhouse. Just a bit of mud to get through first-off: a slow pace through the mud and rain. Just three minor falls as we carefully negotiated downhill through the mud. Just a bit of a scramble as we climb down to the waterfall. Just a bit more mud. Just a bit of a wade through the creek. Just a bit more mud. Just a bit of a climb up to find a spot for lunch. Just a bit more mud. Just need to survive the next 300 metres. Just a bit more mud. Just a bit of a climb around the corner and then we’re on the home run. As we reached the top of the final hill the rain which had been with us all the way eased off slightly and we enjoyed the views. Back to the farmhouse for another very welcome hot drink. A great day out.

Many thanks to Basil for his wonderful hospitality, also to Earle and Royce. Those enjoying the mud, the bush and the waterfall were Anne C, Earle, Margaret L, Jude, Kate, Julie, Diane, Royce, Sharron, Dorothy, Jan, Fred, Ray, Barbara G, Storm and Bas.


Carrington Walkway

Wed 29 Jun 2016

Scribe: Sandra Rogers

Yet another weather forecast for wet weather. Off to the fairly sheltered track of the Carrington Walkway at Stratford. An enjoyable walk of about 3½ hours along a river. Very pretty bush and you felt as if you were in the ‘middle of nowhere’ for a lot of the walk. The far end of the track was closed due to maintenance, otherwise it would have been 4½ hours. Back to McDonalds for a welcome cuppa afterwards. On the tramp were Sandra (leader), Andra and Andy, Carolyn, Cherry, Dorothy, George, Julie, Margaret W, Robert and Suzanne, Graham and Glenys. 

Possum Lodge

Sat-Sun 25 Jun 2016

Scribe: Bruce Thomas

Crook weather didn’t matter. Plan B was to sit around a warm fire at our own Possum Lodge. In overcast weather we went straight to The Chateau and Top of the Bruce, where some of us walked up to Hutt Flat. Snowmaking machines were all around, sitting idle with only very small patches of snow. The ground had a crunchy, frosty feel to it. Back down to The Chateau. After lunch four of us walked up to Silica Rapids and back. It was then on to Possum Lodge to get the place warmed up before our evening meal at Station Café at National Park. A very cosy and interesting place, and a jolly good feed. Sunday morning was raining. Doris planted some young totara up on the bank. We then packed up and went up Fishers Road for a short walk to the lookout, followed by a detour at Erua to where the cycle tracks begin and also to look down the end of the Matapuna Road at Horopito

for future reference. Finally, onwards to home. An enjoyable weekend was had by Bruce Thomas, Doris Hamling, Pam Watson, Anne Fulcher, and Trevor and Julie Kearse.

Paekakariki Escarpment

Wed 15 June 2016

Scribe: Dave Scoullar

The weather gods smiled on us as we tackled the Paekakariki Escarpment Track, completing it in three and a half hours. This was very different from Roger Kealey's earlier trip there which saw the track crowded. We, however, encountered only a half a dozen other people. Apart from the wonderful views of Kapiti Island and the South Island, the group also enjoyed the train journey to and from Waikanae. Sadly, one member, who should have known better, forgot to bring his Gold Card, an error which cost him $8.50.

On trip: Dave Scoullar, Juliet Kojis, Bruce Thomas, Cherry Channon, John Hamling, Barry Hopper, Nelson Tizard, George Neil and Suzanne Roberts.

Otaki Forks - Emergency Access Track

Queen’s Birthday, 6 Jun 2016

Scribe: Linda Hart

DOC made this temporary track to enable access to Otaki Forks, as Otaki Gorge Road has been closed due to a large slip. Work is underway to fix this, so we took the opportunity to explore the access track before vehicle access is restored. We set off on a cold and frosty morning and started at Shields Flat Historic Reserve, walking by the stone walls built during the depression in the 1930s. It was a steady hike up (why is 'down' a four letter word, and 'up' isn't?!) through pine forest as the sun came out and rewarded us with lovely views out to the coast. The track then led us down through native forest - steep enough that DOC had provided a sturdy rope to steady ourselves with - for a descent of about 100 metres. Fortunately the four 'gentlemen' went on ahead to clear the way and did a good job of helping the helpless frail ladies safely to the bottom (this didn't happen really.... they were trying to hurry us up as it was lunchtime..!!). We came out on the road and crossed a swing bridge to our destination (and lunch) at Parawai Lodge. Such a lovely spot, frost still in the shade but glorious warmth on our backs as we sat in the sun on the verandah. Believing work on the slip was advanced enough, we thought we could find our way back via this route - but we were wrong, it looked as if work had hardly started. We therefore retraced our steps and pulled ourselves up, one hand over the other, packs and poles and legs getting rather entangled in the rope, all the way to the top. We would definitely qualify as army cadets. And so we came back through the pine forest, paddocks and stone walls – and our ice creams at Levin were well deserved.

Recruits were: Ridgway Lythgoe, Neil MacIntosh, Ross McBeth, Stephen Hormann, Dorothy Symes, Helen Chitty, Linda Hart.

Turakina-Fordell - Okoia Historic Railway

Sat 4 June 2016

Scribe: Dorothy Symes

The day dawned overcast as 29 people were shuttled to Turakina Bridge for the start - no mean feat, with only two vans. The trip was not a crossover nor a loop and private cars and extra drivers helped knit together these more extreme logistics. Great teamwork and thank you to those who helped. Safely delivered to the Turakina apple orchard and kitted up for a crisp morning, we crossed the bridge and main highway to the first farm. Twenty-two farmers were contacted as our usual club courtesy and all remembered the club’s summer trip two years ago. All supported our plan and some may even have joined us - but when invited “Oops, no! We won’t be as fit as you guys.” Maybe next time? I was warned of damage from the 2015 floods. Probably the worst was at the first farm where considerable damage and earthwork was evident, however all safe and negotiable. On over more farms until we saw Ratana Temple standing proudly in the distance. We decided to take an extra walk this time to view some of the village with its impressive temple and huge community centre. Morning tea was in a very pretty railtrack grove of pines with welcome sunlight filtering through. From here we arrived at the site of the tragic derailment on Easter Good Friday, 1938. Six passengers died, 40 were injured and 13 others taken to Wanganui Hospital. Among those admitted was the engine’s fireman who died in hospital, making a total of seven deaths. NZ’s rail history is fascinating and I’m sure there would be more information on the web. One of the landowners also told me “Millie Dean’s hangman lived in the valley there below”. We continued down Whangaehu Beach Road and over the Whangaehu River bridge, then veered right for the second stage of the walk. The Turakina track was closed because of increasing goods loads from Wellington. Some of the steepest inclines in NZ were regraded and the curve radius extended. Work started August 1937 and progressed until 1941 when war brought it to a halt with both manpower and concrete in short supply. Work recommenced in June 1946 and was completed November 1947. Here we were in 2016 reflecting on the history and still able see some of the railway’s original earth formations and cuttings. Some concrete abutments and structures are still there. Getting close to 3pm we decided to pull the pin and not to continue on to Okoia. Winter now - no daylight saving - and a little disappointing for some. There will be another day, I am sure. All round this was a pleasant and successful day, with only six from the last trip taking part. The day’s tramp was about 18 km and took nearly six hours – an easy walk and very interesting. Great camaraderie too. Taking part: Ady, Andy and Rhiannon Becks, Sue Campion, Helen Chitty, Mike Cole, Brenda Collins, Anne Condon, Brian and Kim Doughty, Graham and Glenys Ellett, Rachelle Enderby, Barbara Francis, Frances Gibbons, Barbara Gordon, Linda Hart, Judith Harrison, Barry Hopper, Victoria Kay, Ridgway Lythgoe, Ross McBeth, Jeanette Maskery, Kathy O’Donnell, Marie-Anne Sleyer, Earle Turner and me.

Marton Sash & Door Tramway

Wed 1 June 2016

Scribe: Dorothy Symes

The first day of Winter 2016 and our intention is to stack firewood at club hut Mangaturuturu, off the Turoa skifield road. Tuesday’s weather forecast was real mean and wet, and only two were brave enough to commit to Wednesday for which the forecast was sun and cloud, snow down to 1100 metres - about where the hut is. In the end we had eight hardy souls to see to the task and, well wrapped up, on their way to Ohakune. Clear blue skies met us at the mountain but we were greeted with “Road Closed from 9 km”. Bother !!! Off down to I-Site to get an update - we needed to get 15 or 16 km up that road to make our way to the hut.

So, Plan B - The Marton Sash & Door Tramway. Off to Erua: Left off SH4 to Erua Road, right at Cuff Road, and park up on to the walk/cycle track. It was extremely cold and very fresh, with the magnificent displays of snow-covered Mount Ruapehu, and Hauhangatahi just dusted; very pretty indeed. The walk itself is very pleasant with numerous interpretation notices conveying the track’s logging history. There is evidence of machinery on the trackside and you can see what could have been their method of moving logs for milling. We encountered one hardy volunteer working on the track who told us of another track which would extend our day. At the completion of the loop we could take the van back to Cuff Road, turn right there and travel one more km up to explore a track clearly pegged ‘Sash & Door’, downhill to the left. This track took us on well- defined logging access down to the bridge we had crossed just off the State Highway. Some of us went back up the hill to retrieve the van and met the others coming up the road. It was now around 2 pm, so time to head home with the usual icecream on the way and the club’s AGM later. A most enjoyable day.

The eight icebreakers: Andra Beck, Bruce Thomas (driver – thanks), Cherry Channon, George Neil, John Hamling, Val Wackrow, Laurel Stowell and me.

Shaws Property, Parikino

Thurs 19 May 2016

Scribe: Sharron Prouse

Eleven trampers left 9 am for the Shaw farm up the Whanganui River Road. Rain expected: ready to start walking when down it came, so out with rain gear. Aftercrossing a little bridge we were met by a herd of curious steers, a little intimidating and it looked like they weren't going to give way. We headed for the hills, stopping for morning tea before starting on the steep hill tracks. The wind was blowing but the views got better. At the top, after much huffing and puffing (on my part anyway) we could see for miles. The terrain is very steep and rugged, with quite a few slips, and spectacular views all around. Then along a ridge with forestry on one side, and straight down on the other. The track took us around hills and across some slips before we found a sheltered spot for lunch. There was discussion about which track to take, Earle saying we “hadn't been going long enough and it was still early” so we continued on, up and down, before taking a last steep downhill. Ray had been watching out for mushrooms and filled his lunchbox. Down on the flat there were more, and several of us helped fill a plastic bag. (I hope you enjoyed them Ray.)

Then through a gate to a delightful bush walk. The birdsong was lovely and we all commented it was the most we had heard for a while. We returned to the paddock we had started from (no sign of the steers, just sheep), paused at the family memorials, and reached the van just as the rain came down again. Earle drove over to farm shed, giving us shelter to remove boots. On the way home we stopped at the cafe at Upokongaro for much needed hot drinks, and a good day was had by all. 

On the trip were Earle Turner, Barbara & Jim Gordon, Ray Walton, Don & Katy Gordon, Margaret Walford, Margret McKinnon, Murray Laing, Walter Lennox, Sharron Prouse. 

Old Coach Road

Wed 18 May 2016

Scribe: Esther Williams

Headline of Chronicle Wednesday 18 May: "Batten Down the Hatches … gale force winds, thunderstorms and tornadoes." Our group headed up the Parapara to test conditions, tipping out at the Old Coach Road into cool driving rain. The lush forest contained fungi, carpets of karamu flowers and a large native worm. Further investigation of the worm revealed it grows up to 30cm and lives 1.5m down in big complicated burrows lined with yellow or orange glow-in-thedark mucus. They are found in the southern half of the North Island and east in the South. After two hours we met the return drivers and sought cold shelter in a disused tunnel for a kai break. Soon we reached the van, bound for the first hot drink cafe. As we parked in Ohakune, Rotorua trampers asked were we trampers and where had we been since they had been told the OCR route was muddy. We happily encouraged

them to go and enjoy the firm walkway. 

Participants: Andra, Bruce, Cherry, Dorothy, Esther, Jacky, Margaret C, Margret, Sue H.

Otaki Gorge Road

Wed 11 May 2016

Scribe: Dave Scoullar

The focus was the temporary access track to Otaki Forks which DoC built in response to the chronically unstable slip that closed Otaki Gorge Rd. The 5.1km route began at Shields Flat, climbed steeply through pines on a bulldozed track and then plunged down a bush ridge to rejoin the road. We were assisted on this descent by about 100m of rope. From the road it was another kilometre to the forks where we lunched at Parawai Lodge. Six of the party of 18 opted to return while the others walked the Arcus Track before retracing our boot prints to the vans. Despite some drizzle and patchy rain, we enjoyed a good day out. 

On trip: Dave Scoullar, Juliet Kojis, Andra and Andy Beck, Bruce Thomas, Cherry Sutton, Dorothy Symes, Esther Williams, Graham Ellett, Heather McKenzie, Helen Atkinson, Jacky Evans, John Hamling, John Newton, Kevin Ross, Margret McKinnon, Sandra Rogers and Val Wackrow.

Sledge Track

Sat 7 May 2016

Scribe: Dave Scoullar

New Plymouth Tramping Club didn't make it but the Sledge Track retains its popularity in our club with 13 punters lining up for this visit to the Kahuterawa Valley. We completed the 3.3km Toetoe loop in five hours. As far as I am aware, we have yet to do the newish 7.9km Otangane Loop which would be good for a summer visit.

On trip: Dave Scoullar (leader), Mike Cole, Roger Kealey, Rob Lott, Ady Gilbert, Helen Chitty, Virginia Baillie, Ross McBeth, Brian Doughty, Hamilton Ngapo, Raewyn Sharrock, Juliet Kojis and Barbara Francis.

Otaihape Scenic Reserve

Thurs 5 May 2016

Scribe: Bev Sinclair

‘Where is everyone?’ muttered Earle as 8am was fast approaching. With minutes to spare they swooped in and bagged a seat. Two vans and a car. ‘I’ve got 25 on the list and 26 people here,’ said Earle. It took a while to find Margaret W’s name off the list. Maybe the confusion arose from five Margarets tramping that day! A two hour drive took us through beautiful countryside and mellow autumn colours, a thriving Taihape, and up and up the final hill. (‘Thank goodness’ everyone muttered.) Morning tea, including the first birthday shout – Suzanne’s - was enjoyed as some sheltered amongst the sheep dags in the bus shelter. Margret led us up and around to the trig where we enjoyed the amazing 360 degree views of steep countryside including that of Margret’s farm. Then the wind got up, the temperature dropped, the rain started and the coats came out. We wound our way down to the lunch stop at an abandoned house, outbuildings and car fleet. We munched, wondering about the tough life of the people who originally farmed in this remote spot. Margie cheered us up with the second birthday shout. As we made our way down over and under several fences Fred decided to take an extra trip, a very gracefully executed fall, with thankfully no more bones broken. People mixed and mingled as they made their way down. Chatter filled the air and a great variety of topics were covered and problems solved. We enjoyed an icecream stop and chat with the llamas at the growing complex at Flat Hills Café and were home by 5.30. It had been a great day. Many thanks to leader Margret and drivers for the day Margaret W, Earle and Jacky.

Lake Surprise via Horopito Track

Wed 4 May 2016

Scribe: Ken Howie

With enough trampers signed up for this trip for two vans, it was decided to make a crossover trip from Horopito to Ohakune Mountain Road. With the van parked at Bishops’ farm entrance on Matapuna Road, we set off on foot along the old access road to where the carpark used to be - this walk now takes about one hour. Here the crossing of the Makotuku River usually means wet feet but today the river was dry. The track and area around the old mill site is now more overgrown than I remembered, but still well marked. Next the dreaded swamp but again this was the driest I have ever seen it and we got through with dry feet. Even some of the old experimental floating batten sections we pegged down more than twenty years ago are still usable. The track gently climbs to the spur leading onto the ridge. This is not so gentle with washouts making for some high steps, but the ridge travel is good. At 12n we met up with the southbound group. 

Having lunch were Barry Hopper, Bruce Thomas, Cherry Channon, George Neil, Helen Atkinson, John Hamling, Kevin Ross, Stuart Kelly, Sue Haden, with Margret McKinnon leading south and Ken Howie leading north. After lunch we soon dropped down to the Mangaturuturu valley and our club hut. Our downhill group had given it a quick clean and it was looking very tidy. From here it’s up and over the cascades and then up to the Mountain Road with relief to see the van.

Old Coach Road

Sat 30 Apr 2016

Scribe: Frances Gibbons

Trampers: Frances Barrie, Sue Campion, Ron Chapman, Margie Chiet, Brian Doughty, Rachelle Enderby, Barbara & Jim Gordon, Barry Hopper, Michael Hopper, Brigitte Hund, Christine Lace, Michael Lace, Jeanette Maskery, Ross McBeth plus two grand-daughters, Raewyn Sharratt & Hamilton Ngapo, Bev Sinclair, Bruce Thomas, Frances Gibbons (leader).

Departing at 8am, we planned a crossover tramp, thus approaching the track from both the Horopito and Ohakune ends. Fine and soon-warm weather provided glorious conditions to tackle this historic, evocative walk and for many, it was a “first”. The track surface was dry and, although shared with a few mountainbikers, resulted in easy progress. The name for today’s tramp derives from the path taken by horse-and-coach transport to fill the gap in the Main Trunk Railway line, which had been constructed as far as Raurimu and Ohakune. We were amazed by stories of the work-force which completed that difficult last section and marvelled at engineering feats of 115 years ago. Pictorial signs along the way clarify the extent of that monumental undertaking. At intervals, clever rusted-metal silhouettes depict those who were involved, along with clever use of railway sleepers as track markers and reminders underfoot of the original cobbled surface. We met up in Raetihi post-tramp for the traditional energy replenishment (ice creams or coffee - Angel Louise cafe’s carrot cake is to die for, I am told!) and were back in Wanganui soon after 4pm. My sincere thanks to our drivers Ross and Bruce

Atene Skyline

Wed 27 Apr 2016

Scribe: Jack Abbott

While enjoying time off school, I decided to visit Grandad (Graham Ellett) at Waiinu Beach. After countless hours of working, I started to question whether I was actually having a holiday. Grandad proceeded to show me how old people have fun and the answer was to join the Wednesday tramp

along the Atene Skyline. After an early start for us at 5.30 am, I swallowed down a quick breakfast, travelled the 40 km to Wanganui and joined the other 16 trampers ready for their 7.30 departure. After a short journey we branched off the main road and followed a narrow road beside the river. “Here we are!” was the comment, “Out and Up”. There were many steps. Up, up and up! It was a crisp morning, needing a few warm layers. The track was overgrown and had an abundance of orange markers, but a well-used highway led some of the experienced trampers the wrong way. We regrouped at the top of the trig and after some ‘debate’ the party split, with the larger group, including myself, carrying on to the shelter where we stopped for smoko. The smaller group returned down the steps. We continued on to the bulldozed track and a gentle walk with only one small slip to cross.

The Atene Track was officially closed due to a huge slip caused by very heavy rain last June. DoC had advised us not to attempt a crossing so our group returned to the vehicles, taking a route down a gorse track and through some farmland. 

Those enjoying the day: Bruce, Cherry, Earle, Felix, Sebastian, Sue McB, Sue H, Ridgway, Nelson, George, Margret, Laurel, Kevin, Ken, Helen A, Grandad and myself. 

Ohau River

Sat-Sun 23-24 Apr 2016

Scribe: Dave Scoullar

The Ohau circuit in the western Tararua didn't go quite as planned but all the participants achieved red lines. Day 1 was up the Ohau River and then the north arm to North Ohau hut, reached in four and a half hours. We wondered if anyone else would turn up at the four-bunk hut but we had it to ourselves. It rained quite hard at times overnight which was to eventually impact on our trip. However, all began well on Day 2 as we headed up the informal track behind the toilet, helpfully marked by ribbons. Reaching the top of the range we headed south, past the Deception Spur turnoff and along a well-padded though unmarked track until we hit a big windfall. Strangely, we were unable to find the track beyond the windfall. This coincided with an unexpected downpour. At this stage we decided to return to Deception Spur and we headed back down the spur to the Ohau River, which was running higher than the previous day. After some deliberation and checking the time, the consensus was that our progress up to South Ohau hut would be too slow to make it before dark. So we headed downstream, getting out of the river right on dark. The last hour plus along the track was by torchlight and we reached the van about 7.15pm, going on for 11 hours after leaving North Ohau hut. So we returned home a day early with some unfinished business.

On trip: Dave Scoullar, Mike Cole, Val Wackrow and Brigitte Hund.

Easter Odyssey - Te Araroa Trail, King Country

Fri-Wed 25-30 Mar 2016

Scribe: Dorothy Symes

Participants: Murray Laing, Dorothy, Symes, Jacky Evans, Helen Atkinson, Tresh Newman, Brian Sixtus, Maureen Johnson

Odyssey – A journey planned by Brian Doughty: unfortunately a “little cardiac incident” intervened. But, fixed up, Brian was at my place the day before we left, ensuring we were ready to go and now under the leadership of Murray. 

Day 1. Thank you Dick for delivering us to Palmerston North to board Northern Explorer to National Park – an exciting trip with wonderful views of Mangaweka Gorge and viaducts. Arrived 1.30pm and booked into the very comfortable and friendly Ski Haus. After dinner at Park Hotel we watched half the rugby before an early night and final preparations for the walk ahead.

Day 2. Back to the hotel for breakfast at 6am, we were confronted by lockout, with the fire brigade checking alarms that had gone off. We were wrapped up and warm while waiting, unlike guests in jarmies and rugs, some wrapped in towels - not good on a cold and dark National Park morning. Breakfasted, we crossed the railway line to Fishers track, starting with a 3km uphill before descending over 10km of magnificent views over the hills beyond. At Purua Road corner we waited in sunshine for our pickup by the Steeles for the 30-odd km to Whakahoro. Passing Retaruke we came across the local sports day at Kaitieke – and some welcome refreshments. We stayed overnight in the Steeles’ shearing quarters, dining at The Blue Duck Café and Restaurant.

Day 3. Serious tramping now into the historic Kaiwhakauka / Mangapurua Valley, the streams tributaries of the Whanganui River. The valley has a very sad history of WW1 veterans who were offered land, settling with hope and expectations of a good start for the future. These pioneers cleared much virgin native bush and transformed it into farmland. At the peak of settlement there were 45 families. Eventually poor access, constant erosion and the depression years forced most of the farmers to abandon their efforts. The few remaining were forced to leave in 1942 when the government refused to invest any further funding. The efforts of these pioneers have provided a unique historic quality to this valley, and a walking/cycling track now enjoyed as part of the world-renowned Te Araroa Trail. For the first two hours we traversed private land before entering Whanganui National Park, our destination the Mosley homestead site. We had already passed several sites identified with signs erected by Friends of the Whanganui River some five years ago, a project that Murray was involved in. He was able to share the interesting history of the settler families. This was the first of our three campsites, with a very good DoC shelter, water and toilet. At this point Brian and Tresh returned to their work commitments, leaving five trampers.

Day 4. We continued to Cootes’ homestead, crossing many small bridged side streams and passing the old Tobin homestead and its chimney stack. A steep 3.5km climb through undisturbed forest brought us to the junction of the old Kaiwhakauka and Mangapurua roads. To the left, Ruatiti; we went right for about three hours, with stops for magnificent views to the north and behind us. We climbed a short track to Mangapurua Trig (second highest in the park), finding a cave where dynamite and gelignite were stored during road/track-building. Back down, we had lunch while soaking up magnificent views out west, where we were heading. The next campsite was at Johnsons with its DoC shelter and good facilities. Here we discovered two well-established hunters’ campsites so took advantage of one, lighting the fancy iron cooker for the evening meal – and a cosy fire for the evening.

Day 5. Up early, re-light the fire for porridge, and off into more beautiful scenery through dense forest, passing spectacular papa bluffs and deep ravines. Each day the weather had been fine and hot and we were well off for water. Our next stop was Hellawells where we expected to pitch our tents. Whoops!! – no water at this DoC campsite. Midday and our first consideration, water! We’d just passed a diversion to Waterfall Creek, so dumped our gear and walked up to the waterfalls but the track was too overgrown. So, down again just in time to see a DoC officer passing by on his bike, checking out nuts and bolts on swing bridges. He off-loaded all the water he had and advised us to go on to a bridge builders’ campsite with macrocarpa shelter. Very cosy indeed, and water springing from the bank a short distance away. This was at Bennetts historic site and we pitched tents, set up for dinner and looked forward to an easier day tomorrow. We’d heard significant bird song all the way from Whakahoro, and at night the calls of moreporks and the kiwi were very impressive. There was no real evidence of possum or trap lines – maybe controlled using 1080? Although we knew it was roar season, we’d heard nothing until now. Holy Toledo !! Around 11.30pm there sure was a performance. The first roar woke and scared the hell out of us, and we all lay very quiet. Murray estimated that this roar came from a red deer only about five metres away. Maureen, from her experiences in the wild, was able to identify responses and communication between the animals. As the night went on so the roars faded. Thankfully they weren’t interested in us, so we slept on until woken by our rooster morepork again. .

Day 6. Our last day on the track was quite short, around 45 minutes before turning a corner to the Bridge to Nowhere. There we boiled up for a cuppa and finished what was left for morning tea. We idled there reading the impressive interpretation boards, with views of the bridge. The remains of the old suspension bridge must have been vital in transporting supplies to the lower valley before the settlers abandoned their dreams. Then the last 40 minute walk to the Mangapurua Landing before boarding the jet boat downriver to Pipiriki. A lovely cuppa at Ken and Josephine Haworth’s little café, then along came David Davidson and Fred Verschoor, up from Wanganui to take us home. A very memorable “Odyssey”.…… and thanks again to all who made it just that ! (“Big job eh Murray?”)