Weekend - Friday 4 July 2014 to Sunday 6 July 2014 (3 days)
Tangihua Forest is a very rugged patch of bush covered hills and steep gullies to the SW of Whangarei. Tangihua Peak is 627m, and there are also a number of peaks in the mid 500’s. Near the north boundary is Tangihua Hut - a standard hut originally maintained by the Whangarei TC but now managed by DOC on a bookings required basis. On the southern boundary, with vehicle access (gate has a key) is the spacious Tangihua Lions Lodge, used for accommodating large youth groups.
The area is home turf for the Whangarei TC, who have maintain a number of tracks in addition to the topo marked DOC tracks. For our weekend they had spent two days clearing and remarking two key tracks, and provided us with a wealth information on the area, including the necessary farm crossing permissions required.
Even with an extra North Shore pickup on the Friday, we were soon on our way north, albeit with some concerns about the number of attempts it was taking to start Big Blue. On arrival at the Tangihua Lions Lodge, we were impressed by the amount of space - we could have had twice as many people and the place would still not have been full.
In the morning the start for all 3 groups was from the north side of the Forest. The longer group had overnight packs, whereas the other two groups had day packs - with a prospect of hot showers and a pot luck dinner back in the Lodge that evening.
The target for the day for the Long party was using one of the Whangarei TC tracks up a ridge over point 456, to Tangihua Peak, then along the main ridge and down to the Tangihua Hut.
No chance of getting lost given the photos provided as to how to navigate onto the correct ridge, and then very well marked all the way to Tangihua and beyond. A cool breeze from the west, cloudy, but no significant rain, and views along the main range to the Horokaka transmitter at the other end. Tangihua trig provided superb views in most directions.
The old track down the very steep other side of the trig is not safe, so our faithful markers took us down and around the south side on a rough sidle to a saddle from where we were told there was a "gunsite". Not knowing what to expect, this turned out to be the top contour of the next high point on the ridge.
Onwards along the steep and at times narrow ridge took us to the junction with the topo marked DOC track, where we caught up with the end of Tina’s group, which had climbed to the main ridge from the opposite direction.
We then arrived at the Tangihua Hut around 2pm, earlier than expected, thanks principally to the information provided and work done by the Whangarei TC. Not content with an early finish, some of us accompanied Tina’s group out to the bus and back - an hour each way. A relief to hear that the bus started OK and they at least could return to the Lions Lodge for their well earned cruisy evening.
Rain overnight, but remarkably we awoke to blue sky - quite contrary to the forecast from Friday. The morning started with the bush highlight of the weekend - the Whangarei TC Helipad track across to a stream, up it in the stream to a waterfall, then a stiff climb up onto the main ridge again. A very picturesque stream in lovely bush, warm, and no rain - what more could one want from the world?
Once up on the main ridge we were onto DOC tracks for the rest of the day - following the ridge as far as Horokaka trig / transmitter 552m and then down following various tracks back to the Lions Lodge.
As expected, slow going, with some quite slippery sections up and down - a shorts inspection by the end of day revealed some great encounters with the muddy hills.
But we arrived in good time for a quick shower, final Lodge cleanup and packout, and back in Auckland not too long after dinner time.
Thanks to Malcolm Fisher for coaxing Big Blue to life on a number of occasions, and then driving us safely there and back, including navigating the at times rugged bush driveway to / from the Lodge.
The Long party were Antal Kalocsai, Garry Williams, Geoff Fischer, Kathy Engelbrecht, Margaret Law, Rob McKay, Rob Worley, Tony Walton (leader, scribe), and Willie Williams.