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Tararua Footprints Escape Routes

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Escape routes

Bad weather on the tops or flooded streams in the valleys can be serious obstacles.

  • If you are in a secure position (in a hut or sound camp) when bad conditions strike, then stick to it until conditions improve.

The SAR people are aware of the problems caused by poor weather and will not panic.

The Tararuas, quite close to Cook Strait, are subject sometimes to fierce and rapidly changing weather. If these conditions strike, be prepared to change your plans - the hills will be there next week, and safety is paramount. Be prepared to turn back.

In these ranges, it is generally better to escape down a major spur rather than a stream. Even a small waterfall can be difficult and almost none are marked. Often you can move from the higher ridges to the comparative shelter of a main valley, though a sidestream may still block further progress. For example, Marchant Stream in the Tauherenikau, or the head of Totara Creek; both small streams; can prove uncrossable during heavy rain. Smaller streams fall quickly once the peak rainfall has passed.

Drowning happens quickly and too commonly. Wait patiently until the streams drop. Be particularly careful where you cross a small side stream just above a larger stream, as to be swept into the larger stream could be disastrous. In heavy weather, be particularly alert for flash floods coming down sidestreams, where the waters may have been pent up by slip or log-jam. Read your Bushcraft Manual.

There are a number of valleys into which one should not drop! These cannot be listed exhaustively, but all those with gorges would be on the list. Examples are the upper reaches of the Tauherenikau, Hector, Ruamahanga and Mangahao. If you must choose a valley exit, then choose one that leads more or less directly out of the hills, or that gives continuous travel on the one side.

If you have been held up by the weather or loss of route, this is the time you will appreciate those few emergency supplies you carry in the bottom of the swag. When hungry or cold, your performance will be well below par. The grade of your trip will increase in bad weather. In particular, sidling through off-track territory will be very rough and quite hard. Your speed, or that of the slowest of your party, may drop to one-third or less! When you regain civilisation immediately inform friends of your safety, and also the police in case they have been alerted.

Examine prospective escape routes, and those to be avoided, when you pass the territory on your trips.

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LIVE life at the full ;
blend dream with the deed ;
drink deep of the draught.
The men who moved before us,
the mountain maids who bore us,
dared the roar of the pool,
raced from the hills of speed,
hunted the high winds, and laughed
as they drove their sea-freight home
slant to the fall of foam.

Geoffrey Winthrop Young, from Motion


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Page last modified on 2014 Feb 14 01:29

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