Weekend - Friday 14 July 2017 to Sunday 16 July 2017 (3 days)
Medium Fit Party
Photos - Margaret has some great photos, but they are quite large file sizes - contact Margaret or Tony to get a copy.
Neatly nestled between two periods of wet weather, was our fine weekend in the Far North exploring the Omahuta and Puketi Forests and their superb stands of kauri trees. An uneventful drive on Friday evening to the Puketi hut - an old schoolroom - on the eastern side of the Puketi Forest. Being able to drive to our weekend accommodation and then have bunks for everyone is a treat for a tramping trip on a cold night.
Saturday started with a drive around into the Omahuta Forest - to the west of the Puketi Forest. A long forestry road was bus suitable, so as per plan we commenced with a short walk around the Kauri Sanctuary loop with a good number of large kauri trees. Then a forestry road walk for a few kms, picking up the Te Araroa route as it takes you deeper into the Omahuta Forest. The river level indicator ford on the road has the instructions to not go past if there is water running over the ford ... well there was some, but it was assessed as happening because of some of the drains under the ford being blocked, so decision taken - onwards !
Turning off the forestry road you follow a well cleared descent into the Mangapukahukahu Stream, a tributary of the Waipapa River. Yes, definitely some noticeable water here, but in the event, while we continually crossed it and had a few deeper spots that resulted in some unladylike comments, we were able to continue all the way downstream. With a bonus sunny spot for our lunch stop.
On meeting the Waipapa River, there is a short track downstream, before there is a crossing of the main river that doesn’t require a swim. Then from there following a sidle track upstream for 3 kms - a bit rough and muddy, with a few opportunities to slip down the steep bank, and soon enough everyone was wishing the main river was low enough to walk in the riverbed (it had been in a dry summer when Tony was last here).
But soon enough we reached the point where the track leaves the river and climbs steadily up the Pukeatua Ridge, with its gorgeous display of kauri trees in many places - great to see a huge amount of regrowth, with trees of all ages. At various points over the weekend it was interesting to note some very tall thin / young kauri trees.
And then it was out onto the Pirau Ridge Track - a good forestry road (private vehicles not allowed) that takes 9 kms to get back to the Puketi hut area, and for some in the party using up all the remaining daylight hours. The feature of the evening was a pot luck feast, with everyone rolling into their sleeping bags that night well content !
The next day for our party was a loop walk involving the upper Waipapa Valley with a circuit up to a quarry on the northern edge of the forest. Yet again some lovely large and small kauri, and a few noticeable stream crossings for good measure.
Upper Waipapa River Track, Onekura Track (to quarry), Mangahorehore Track and then back on the Upper Waipapa track again. After the quarry Tony returned the way he came to deal to a significant treefall that required a very scrambly detour, and then continued working back down the track until the rest of the party caught up. A fairly late return to the hut (just before 5pm), with a message that Martin’s party had finished their own walk an hour or more earlier and were keen for their pickup. Soon achieved and a quick trip home - thanks to our drivers Jim and Marilyn.
The party were Catherine Doyle, Fay Zhong, Jim Morrow, Margaret Law (Leader, photos), Robin Houston, Tony Walton (scribe), and on Saturday Bill Mancer, Jonathan Fanning and Tina Jacques.