Long Weekend Trip - Friday 5 February 2016 to Monday 8 February 2016 (4 days)
A quick summary so some of the super photos can see the light of day.
Medium Party - Manuoha Track to Manuoha Hut, then to Sandy Bay Hut, then out to Aniwaniwa. Capably led by Geoff Fischer, party Mark Abela, Fay Zhong, Mike Champion, Catherine Doyle, and David Fischer (Geoff’s brother - demonstrating how to tramp barefoot). Fortunately they reached the small Manuoha Hut for a large AUTC party also arrived - everyone coexisted happily, taking turns to share the floor space since it was kind od damp outside ! Some superb moss covered forest producing weird tree shapes along the way.
Easy Party - To and from Sandy Bay Hut, taking time to explore the joys of the Urewera bush. Leader Liz Ware, party Hazel Walton, Jeanne Furukawa, Lory Barrage Lee.
Sandy Bay is at a very shallow end of Lake Waikareiti - the AUTC party were also at Sandy Bay Hut the second night and decided to see how far they could walk into the lake ...
And then there was the Fit Party - who managed to squeeze in around 30 hours tramping in the three days ....
Day 1, after a delayed start because the arranged pickup did not arrive, a pleasant 4WD road walk up through Whites Clearing, then following a track down the Parahaki Stream as far as the turnoff to Totara Hut. We stayed in the stream at that point, but the track where it existed now became much less obvious, so a slower rate of progress. At the junction with the Waiau River), there is a high swing bridge, but the river was fine to cross individually, taking us over to a sunny lunch spot.
Having had sufficient stream time for the day, in the afternoon we opted for the marked track heading downstream away from the river for the most part - first past Central Waiau Hut, then onwards towards Te Waiotukapiti Hut. As indicated by web reports the track was passable, although it was steep scramble up and above Blue Slip - with scrambly going too for some of the following river sidling sections. We reached the hut in drizzly conditions around dinner time, please to find no one else there and it all in a very tidy condition.
The next day we found the cableway across the Waiau River - all in good working order and very efficient to use. On the other side the OT marked track continued up the hill and along the ridge - all good until we came to an unmarked junction not on the topo maps, with OT’s heading off in 2 directions. We took the one that dropped us down to the Te Waiotukapiti Stream more directly ... wrong, because the "tracked" route up the stream was intermittent at best, making for some very slow travel - by that point we now into hunting for white permolat markers.
It is strongly recommended that future parties avoid going up / into the Te Waiotukapiti Stream - too slow. At the point where the other track possibly descended to cross the stream and head up the other side there were no obvious tracks - it took some real exploring to find an old wooden track sign in the bush away from the stream.
From here onwards we were into some great bush, but not really taking it in because the primary task was trying to spot the next white / red permolat marker and not go the wrong way into saddles. Yes there had been warnings about treefalls from a few years back that had not been cleared, but the reality was that the primary issue determining rate of progress was that the track had not been vegetation cleared recently or remarked with OT’s. Time was passing as we continued on, with the A team of Lee, Gareth, Rob and Willie doing a tremendous job keeping us on track.
And then, getting close to the expected track junction tree falls that had completely destroyed any sense of where the track went seriously did kick in. Exploring this way, that way, using GPS to find where the track should be, but wasn’t, in the end, a compass bearing bush bash had us inching forward in the expected direction to the junction .. and yes, we hit a helipad beside the track heading north. We tried to follow the track heading downhill, soon losing it again. At which point it was dinner time again and we had all had more than enough of tramping for the day.
A quick conference around options, a return to the helipad for our unexpected overnight spot, and a rush to get the radio aerial up in time for our backup radio sched time - requesting that we have a different pickup point the next day where the Pukekohu Range hits SH38.
Time for dinner, then eventually a more detailed look at the maps ... which revealed the true length of the range, and a conclusion that if the track along there was no better than today’s track, then we would have great difficulty getting it traversed in the daylight. So back to plan A down the shorter distance to Lake Waikaremoana - after a night’s rest we managed to find most of the track OK - just a couple of points of significant treefall that held us up for a while. Arrived at the Lake for lunchtime, then an easy fast 4.5 hour track bash from there back to the bus (that we had called up to rearrange the pickup point again)
We were Tony Walton (leader, scribe), Lee McKay (driver), Gareth Facer, Willie Williams and Rob Worley.
Thanks very much to Bryan Taylor for being our second driver for the weekend, and having a relaxing time in and around the bus at Aniwaniwa