Extended Trip - Saturday 10 February 2018 to Friday 23 February 2018 (14 days)

Vicky King Photos

Chris Burnett Photos

Tony Walton Photos

Trips 2 and 3 - Wangapeka - Karamea - Leslie and Tablelands

Five of us shuttled off from Tapawera to the Rolling River road end, packs on, heavy with ten days food for the walk to Kings Creek Hut about 4 hours up the Wangapeka track.

Kings Creek Hut was busy as our group was complemented by a group from the Brisbane Bushwalkers and a DOC facilities inspector. The roomy hut accommodated us all very well. We made a food drop here while we spent a couple of nights up at Kiwi Saddle.

Kiwi Saddle is a fairly easy walk up a good track from the Wangapeka to the hut, a six bunk Forest Service type which was comfortable, well sited and had views to Mt Luna.

The Wangapeka and Kiwi stream have a very noticeable presence of birds that we are generally not used to seeing in the North Island. 1080 poison was dropped in the valley 2 years ago which probably explains the proliferation of Bellbirds, Riflemen, Kea, South Island Robins, Fantails, and Ruru at night. There are also a lot of box traps and wasp poison stations closer to road ends which allow more volunteers to service the traps.

We hosted the ATC fit party who were doing a traverse of the Matiri and Arthur Ranges for the night as they passed through from Stone Hut and Mt Luna.

The intention was to climb Mt Luna and Mt Patriarch. We did not complete the climb to Luna but with moral support of the fit group, who promised us that the climb was "just a ramp", we summited Mt Patriarch on which we were given fine views to all points. We parted with the fit group as they headed north along the Arthur Range to John Reid Hut.

In the afternoon we had a look down into Taylor Stream on an nmaintained track which once would have been to the same benched and graded standard as the Wangapeka. After an hour or so, things started to get dense and markers sparse. Taylor Stream eventually flows into the Crow and then the Karamea.

Two nights at Kiwi Saddle

We had two nights at Kiwi Saddle, a pleasant stop that we recommend. We then headed back to the Wangapeka and Stone Hut, picking up our food on the way. Christine left us here to head out to Rolling River and our company reduced to four. We headed on to Stone Hut up the beautiful Wangapeka valley on an easy graded track. The old growth bush is beautiful and there are some nice views of the river from the track. It was wet this day so it was good to get to Stone Hut and get the fire going to warm up and dry out.

Reports of Whio ducks are common in the Hut Books and we were treated to seeing some at Stone Hut that allowed very close scrutiny, which was a nice treat. Whio have apparently been seen all the way to the Motueka River mouth the last year. This is due to the success of the trapping programme and no doubt to 1080.

Stone Hut to Trevor Carter Hut in the Karamea.

We were away before 8am and left the beautifully benched and graded track of the Wangapeka to head up the hill to the Wangapeka Saddle. The track is not too difficult. We had quite decent weather after the rain of the previous day so from the W. Saddle we headed over the Biggs Tops, sort of a Walton short cut, though going in this direction was not that much of a strain. It is a nice walk over open tops and the route is not difficult to follow, complemented with good views to the south and west of Nuggety Knob and the Matiri Range.

Leaving the tops, the track descends steeply through beech, then through scrub and is very slippery in places. We met a couple of trampers coming up the hill so were glad of our downward direction. We had a sunny afternoon at Trevor Carter with a walk to Saxon Falls which still remain undiscovered for us.

It’s beautiful country however and we seemed to have had it to ourselves.

There are not so many birds in this part of the park, though whenever we stopped there was nearly always a Robin fluttering in to check on us. We were further from the road, in a place where volunteer trappers do not penetrate.

Trevor Carter hut has 16 bunks with a wardens’ quarters. Obviously DOC was intending to have this part of the park used more than it is now and they have recently said that they are going to maintain the western part of the Wangapeka as a route, rather than a track which will also mean the Karamea section is visited less often.

Trevor Carter to Venus Hut

We went down the Karamea River. Pushing through wet Tutu, we immediately missed the high standards of the Wangapeka track. The track enters the ancient Beech forest - it is still fairly rough going but worth it to travel through such magnificent bush. The river is fairly boisterous up in these parts with an impressive jumble of big rocks and cascades. There are more wasps in this area and noticeably less birds. Some of our party suffered stings.

Venus to Karamea Bend

I think it’s 2003 vintage with twelve bunks, nicely situated and very near a really good swimming hole. Rain started at 4am and we suffered the side effects of Cyclone Gita. We left Venus and our nudist tramping hut mates. We headed north down the Karamea, coated up, in the bush most of the way, still quite warm as long as we kept moving. A quick stop at Crow Hut for a snack and a good view of the river, a similar vintage as Venus and Trevor Carter.

On to Karamea Bend with the fire going to dry out. There was some heavy rain for a time and we watched the Leslie River rise to flood levels. This was our Cyclone Gita. Nothing too serious though and by first light next morning the river had dropped and continued to drop while we breakfasted and got ready.

Karamea Bend to Tablelands

The track was good up the Leslie. We took about 2 hours before we crossed the Leslie bridge and started up the hill toward the Tablelands. It is quite a steep climb but the track is good. About an hour from the top there is the interesting Splurgeons Shelter. The area that the shelter sits on was blasted out of the rock by an early track worker and the shelter grew from there. It has five bunks, a nice outlook, and is mostly enclosed. It’s a good place to stay for sure, though just a lunch stop for us.

We went on to the Tablelands and Salisbury Lodge rather than a hut. It’s more expensive because it is apparently serviced with gas and firewood supplied.This lodge is special because of the fabulous view of Gordons Pyramid and Mt Arthur. We got the fire going and spent a lot of time looking out the window at the changing vista as mist moved over and around the peaks.

The tussock meadows and beech forests here are worth a look also. Sheep used to be driven up here in times past from the Motueka side for summer grazing. The weather next morning was not great, so instead of taking the route over Gordons Pyramid to Mt Arthur Hut, we followed the track past the various Rock Shelters to Flora Hut, then climbed up from there.

At Flora Hut we met a volunteer trapper who told us about the mayhem caused by Gita - wash outs, slips, floods with property and farmlands destroyed. It was a surprise to us as we were only a few kilometres away. Flora road was blocked due to a slip which was useful information for us.

We went up the hill for our last night at Mt Arthur Hut.

Next morning we were greeted with a fabulous sunrise and a clear day.

The walk up Mt Arthur was an easy two hours from the hut. Views all around We took photos, had a snack and then it was back to the hut for the trip out, all down hill on a gravelled benched track, then beyond the car park to our shuttle pick up, six kilometres down the road. This was

the end to a very enjoyable nine days in Kahurangi.

Thanks Tony for planning and leadership. Thanks also to Catherine Doyle, Vicky King, Chris Burnett (scribe), and Christine Major.