Extended Trip - Thursday 9 November 2017 to Tuesday 14 November 2017 (6 days)

Photos - David Holl            Map - Google - David        

Photos - Terry Chubb        Map - Google - Terry       Map - GPX - Terry

Thursday, 9th November. We left Auckland at 7am and after a slow drive due to road works arrived at Backyard Tours in Turangi at 12.15 pm.

A quick change of clothes, armed with a permit to enter Helisika country, and we were into the shuttle with Gloria who drove us to the Urchin Track start point. We were tramping by 1 pm and set off up the well-defined Urchin track, with sunny weather and not much wind. On crossing the Waipakihi River we met up with a hunter who had walked up the stream that morning. He was to camp further up the valley. We re crossed the River and set up camp approximately 400m downstream from the mapped Thunderbolt track on the other side at 5 pm. Next morning this distance proved to be incorrect as there was a 400m difference between the mapped track and actual track.

Friday 10th. Away at 7.30 am, we crossed the Waipakihi River and up the defined track until we exited the bush. During this phase, we spotted a long-tailed cuckoo and heard others. We then traversed the ridge tops to Motutere, reaching that point after about one and a half hours and then continued along the ridge tops. Winds had risen to the forecast 60 to 70 kph during the day and it was rather cool on the tops. We set up camp at 3.15pm on a ridge top using a nearby creek and small tarn (puddle) for water.

Saturday 11th. Another early start at 7am and we had a steep descent down to the Rangitikei through bush, windfall and bush lawyer. We spotted a NZ falcon on the way. We crossed the Rangitikei (less than knee high deep) and it was then a steep climb up through scrub on the other side. Terry spotted a deer in the distance, probably a sika, judging by its colour and the noise it made. We worked our way along the tops, past Whakamarumaru, setting up camp around 5.30 pm under trees. Snow had started falling at 4pm and this then turned to light rain.

Sunday 12th. We had light snowing during the night and woke to find the tents and ground covered with a fine sprinkling of snow. We were away at 7am heading into bleak wilderness. The snow stopped around midday but the 60 to 70 kph wind continued and visibility was poor. We worked our way along the tops towards Makorako, at 1726m, the highest peak in the Kaimanawas. We skirted around Makorako as we had all climbed it two years previously. We then circled around and along the Island Range and bush bashed our way through windfall, scrub and bush lawyer down towards the Rangitikei River, setting up camp beside the Rangitikei at 5.30 pm.

Monday 13th. Away at 7am and crossed the river. We set off up towards Middle Range, fighting our way through treefall, bush lawyer and a bit of scrambling (Terry one way, us another) up a rocky face. There was some steep country in that area. It took two hours to climb the hill. Weather had improved on the tops to sunny but still windy. After moving along the tops of Te Hiwi Range we descended down the ridge through more of the same of bush and some windfall towards Thunderbolt Creek We passed the carcass of a young deer (spiker) which had been shot for meat in a creek bed.

We exited at Thunderbolt Creek where we found an appealing hunter’s campsite but continued further to shorten our efforts for the next day. Our campsite was by the Waipakihi River, close to where we were on our first night. That was a big day, setting up camp at 6.45pm, 11.75 hours.

Tuesday 14th. We were away at 7.30am. There was frost in the morning with David and Andrew who had camped out in the open having frozen boots. This was our get out day so it was over the Urchin track to arrive at our pick-up point at 11.30 am. Long tailed cuckoos were heard on the way. We had a half hour wait at the track end for Gloria who arrived bang on time, armed with a complementary drink for each of us.

We were: Terry Chubb (organiser), Alex Sancho, Andrew Murdoch and David Holl (scribe)