Weekend - Friday 21 February 2014 to Sunday 23 February 2014 (3 days)

Me and my big mouth! Should have known better with Carol being weekend trip organiser. What do I do but go and say we have not done this trip in 30 plus years. Well you know Carol, its on the program and I’m the leader!

Saturday morning in the Kauaeranga we left Margaret’s party to tramp off to Crosbies, and set off for the Kauaeranga Gorge, farewelling Tony’s party at the Moss Creek track.

A short rocky stretch of river bed and we are at the outlet from the Kauaeranga Gorge. This gorge never ceases to amaze, even 50 years after I first scrambled through on a school trip.

 

The first slippery awkward rock face, Garry is going to swim through, Garry can’t climb out, swims back to rock face. Garry - I’ve lost my camera, where, here somewhere, I see it, where, in that pool! Camera recovered, carry on , scramble above some pools, swim through others, Garry and Michael haul the leader up a small waterfall, and lets have lunch. How much further? Guess about 3 hours.

Weather has turned to light rain, but its not cold, just as well as we are all soaked to the bone! Lets move on, here’s a tricky climb, pass the packs up, Fay’s pack almost drags me off the ledge, what the hell you got in here? 3 litres of water. What! The river water is safe to drink! We pass under the power lines spanning the gorge, this is the Pack Track crossing, wonder if Tony’s been this way yet? Do we take the track? No certainly not this is a river trip. Another hour and check the map at the forks, don’t want to take the wrong stream, the small creek is it, are you sure, other stream looks like the main one, no, small creek is the one(hope I’m right about this). Half hour later we come to Dancing Camp Dam (old logging dam) yay! We are there. Up the track to Pinnacles Hut. Surprise. We beat Tony’s group to it. They arrive shortly after us.

 

I’m not a great fan of this palace in the bush, but even at capacity you don’t have the feeling of being with 80 people. Got to say it was nice not to have to carry camping gear.

Sunday morning doesn’t look too promising, with light rain and thick cloud down over the Pinnacles, but still the forecast is for a fine day.

Lets go. Up the "highway" to the Pinnacles, leave packs at the last saddle, up the ladders and look at the non existent view. Back to the packs and where to now? Down to the right here somewhere, then swing left, do you remember the way, yes of course, but some visibility would be nice, looks like its clearing, where do we go, see those dead trees down the ridge, head for them. Through thick bush on what seems like a 60 degree slope, over, under, around, scramble, slide, across 2 slip faces, this is the spot, down we go, how do you know? Memory didn’t fail me. Grab, swing, slide, hang on for dear life and we tumble out on to the rocks of Scot Stream, tributary of the Tairua Second Branch. Time for a morning snack and wow the sun has come out it’s a nice day after all. Memories come back of the first trip down here in the 1960s with several other members in the hosing rain.

The Second Branch has a short gorge section, nothing like the Kauaeranga, but with several waterfalls to be climbed around, almost all passed on the true left. Lunch time is pleasant and warm partway through the gorge, any guesses on our time out? Um, maybe 4pm latest. Beyond the gorge the river opens out to a wide rocky bed, very easy going. Michael has some strange fascination with a dead pukeko! Just before 3.30pm we cross the main Tairua and climb out to the road. Done!

What a trip, why did we wait so long, must do this one again. A short wait for the bus to show up and off home, a wonderful weekend.

Party: Michael Loo; Susan Woolnough; Garry Williams; Cam Mitchel; Simon Rainger; Fay Zhong; Jim Morrow (leader and scribe)

Photos: Fay Zhong's camera